Why the Big 10 dumped divisions and safeguarded 11 games

The Huge Ten has revealed its football schedule design for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, when the league broadens to 16 members with the arrivals of UCLA and USC.All hail Flex Protect Plus!The league’s new design includes no divisions and 11 safeguarded yearly games that are not evenly spread in between the teams. The Big Ten concentrated on maintaining the games its schools cared about the majority of, from the obvious(Ohio State-Michigan, USC-UCLA, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue)to the historic (Minnesota-Wisconsin) to current regional competitions(Iowa-Nebraska )to matches for odd prizes (Illinois-Purdue, where the Purdue Cannon is at stake). Every Big Ten matchup will happen twice in a four-year span, once at each team’s house website. USC and UCLA will deal with every Huge 10 team at least once before completion of 2025, and every Big 10 team will play once in Los Angeles in the very same span.Flexibility is at the core of the Big 10’s method, and the league wants to– get this, SEC– play each other more often as both the subscription and the CFP broaden in 2024. But there are likewise some disadvantages and items to debate.ESPN’s Expense Connelly, Adam Rittenberg, Paolo Uggetti and Tom VanHaaren break down what the Huge 10’s announcement means.What are the implications of eliminating divisions?Connelly: The main effect is just that the two finest groups will in fact bet the conference title.

Looking at my SP +rankings, the top two groups in the conference were East division groups eight of the last 10 years, and the East boasted the leading three in four years throughout that period. It was definitely enjoyable blogging about unique division title runs– Northwestern’s in 2018 and 2020, for example, and Purdue’s( nearly Illinois ‘)in 2022– however just three of the past 11 Big Ten Championships have been decided by single digits, and Michigan has actually won the last two by a combined 85-25. Department imbalance isn’t the only thing that produces title-game blowouts, however it does not help.On the disadvantage, you get untidy brand-new problems when it concerns tiebreakers and the odd idea of, say, Michigan and Ohio State playing each other in back-to-back weeks. But it’s tough to grumble too much about anything that produces much better championship game matchups and lead to everybody in the conference really playing each other semi-regularly. Editor’s Picks 2 Associated Rittenberg: There likely will be repeat Ohio State-Michigan matches in Indianapolis. However the league still gets a more compelling title game in the majority of seasons, even if both groups

likely will have

CFP spots currently confirmed. Although less teams reasonably will be in conference title mix, you also need to have a few more that are still in CFP contention as the regular season winds down. The huge upside with getting rid of divisions is the elimination of annual games that don’t need to be played. A more robust schedule rotation is a win for fans, players and TV. Every player will have a chance to play in every Huge Ten location prior to his profession ends. Also, the number of weeks with 3 or four nationally significant games increases considerably in the new format.Uggetti: From the viewpoint of newbies USC and UCLA, departments might have been useful if both were placed into the traditionally weaker West department. As Adam, Tom and Expense have mentioned, the East has actually dominated the title game and by extension the CFP discussion over the last few years and so there might have been a world in which we ‘d be getting USC-Ohio State Big 10 title games. Obviously in this brand-new, division-less format that still may happen which is why it’s eventually the very best relocation as part of the conference’s makeover. USC got a taste of this in 2015 after the Pac-12 removed divisions– instead of dealing with the very best team in the department formerly known as the North (Washington), the Trojans had to deal with Utah once again in the conference title game. That ended up poorly for USC.Is the Huge Ten format fair?VanHaaren: It depends on how you take a look at the current format. I personally believe the current setup was unjust due to the fact that we didn’t constantly get the 2 finest teams in the championship game game. That being said, if there were no divisions in the past, we would have had a lots of Michigan-Ohio State games, which some fans may not like. I do not

believe there’s a perfect method to do this, however I don’t think the existing format makes good sense. Had the conference evened out the departments, that may be a great solution.Rittenberg: Usually, schedule formats are everything about harmony and attempting to achieve an image of evenness/fairness. The Big Ten’s stands out since there are notable distinctions in the number of protected games per team. Iowa has three while Penn State has none. I wonder with time how Penn State, which has been singing about repeatedly opening Huge 10 play on the road, views having a more active total schedule rotation than other groups, consisting of Michigan(two secured games )and Ohio State(one ). The Big 10 states it polled all of its members about the games that actually mattered and ones that could rotate in and out. However schools might change their positions as soon as the format goes into effect.Connelly: The brand-new format is certainly more reasonable to teams in the East! Not including the shortened 2020 season, Maryland and Rutgers have actually each played all of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State every season considering that they participated in 2014. In that same variety, Nebraska has actually played those three teams a combined 8 times. The brand-new format develops familiarity among all challengers but prevents a natural schedule imbalance based on department lines. Win-win. What games are we losing and would like to keep?Connelly: The good idea about this format is that we aren’t truly LOSING any games: Even the ones that aren’t played yearly still occur every other year usually. That’s fantastic for familiarity and continuity. That stated, if we’re preserving Illinois-Purdue (and hello, hooray for the continued significance of the Purdue Cannon ), I hate that we’re whiffing on a chance to make Michigan-Minnesota yearly once again– I want my Little Brown Jug!Battle for the Cannon today! #RivalryGame #Illini #Purdue pic.twitter.com/Zb4MeBAsDZ!.?.!— Illinois Football( @IlliniFootball)October 4, 2014 Rittenberg: The design’s overall versatility actually helps

, but any year when Ohio State and Penn State don’t play feels a bit weird. Given that I started covering the Huge Ten for ESPN in 2008, the Ohio State-Penn State game has had more league-wide significance than any other annual pairing, even Ohio State-Michigan. Both environments are electric and the field always includes a good number of future NFL players. Here’s hoping OSU-PSU doesn’t turn off for two seasons extremely often.Games we’re most thrilled for?VanHaaren: I would have liked to see an Ohio State-USC game, however the Bruins and the Buckeyes need to still be a great one. The one I have my eye on, though, is Michigan-USC who have actually

n’t faced each other considering that the 2007 Rose Bowl. That game could have significant ramifications for the conference title and for the playoff if both groups stay on their present track. USC’s high-powered offense versus a Michigan defense must be fun to see and Michigan will travel to USC to play the game. I also like getting Penn State and Ohio State in 2024. The Nittany Lions are on an upward trajectory and will have a third-year quarterback in Drew Allar and third-year running backs in Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen in 2024. That might be enjoyable to watch.Connelly: I agree about Ohio State-USC– if you’re going to make a move like including USC and UCLA to

a conference of eastern and midwestern programs, I would have figured you would aim to get the most recognizable helmets playing each other as regularly as possible and make that a yearly competition. They’re undoubtedly still going to be playing a lot, however that omission was a surprise. However clearly with USC at Penn State, Michigan at USC, UCLA at Michigan, Ohio State at UCLA, et cetera, we’re still getting great deals of very appealing helmet games right off the bat.Rittenberg: I really wanted both USC and UCLA to visit among the mega arenas in Year 1, which is achieved with the Trojans going to Penn State and the Bruins headed to Michigan. I concur with the others that waiting till 2025 for Ohio State-USC is a mini downer, and USC’s total 2024 Big 10 road schedule lacks much pizzazz beyond Penn State.

The 2024 Big Ten home schedules for both USC and UCLA jumped out, as the Trojans get Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, while the Bruins will host Ohio State and Nebraska. Those fan bases like to travel and already have solid alumni bases in Los Angeles.What does the travel schedule look like for USC and UCLA and who else is traveling a lot?VanHaaren: It would’ve been handy for either UCLA or USC to get Nebraska as an away game, however neither did. In 2024, USC has to go to Maryland, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and UCLA, which is a rough slate of travel. Outside of the UCLA game, that’s approximately 32 hours of flying time round trip to the other 4 games. That is a lot of travel for one season and it will be fascinating to see if it impacts the players towards the end of the season. Outside of the California teams, Nebraska is rather in the middle geographically, so they also have an interesting travel schedule. The Huskers take a trip to Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue and UCLA. Get your favorite live sports, stories and originals with ESPN+, Disney+and Hulu. Upgrade to a Disney Bundle strategy and start streaming something for everyone today! Connelly: In the end, there’s absolutely nothing the conference might do to make

the travel scenario helpful for USC and UCLA. That’s just the risk of generating 2 schools that are at least two time zones far from the other 14 schools. The flex rivalry technique is enjoyable; I was excellent with creating 3 permanent rivalries for everyone and turning six other challengers from year to year, but among the disadvantages of that was producing random long-term matches like, state, UCLA-Nebraska or something. This makes certain that nobody from the east/midwest is traveling out west more than anyone else.Uggetti: Alright, I have actually crunched the numbers and USC’s roadway slate in its launching Huge Ten season will include almost 20,000 miles of travel with all of their road games outside of UCLA requiring a 2,000-plus mile trip each leg of the trip. It’s not perfect, to say the least, but for both the Trojans and the Bruins, this is a small-ish price to spend for what they’re getting financially by joining the conference. It’s likewise essential to remember that while travel for the football groups will be brutal during the season, the non-revenue sports which have to travel east as well will be simply as affected if not more.Rittenberg: I’m a bit amazed that USC needs to go to both Penn State and Maryland in 2024, and both Rutgers and Ohio State in 2025. Those are some long trips for the Trojans. But ultimately we require to see where the games fall in the real schedules. My sense is USC and UCLA often will get open dates either before or after their longest road trips. They won’t be taking a trip often– or at all– for midweek games, like they perform in the Pac-12. Rutgers apparently gets the most difficult travel East-to-West travel schedule in 2025, as the Scarlet Knights will check out both UCLA and Nebraska.What would division-less

title games have appeared like over the past 5 years?Connelly: We obviously don’t understand what particular schedules would have looked like and how tiebreakers might have come into impact, but based simply on my SP+rankings, we ‘d have gotten Ohio State vs. Michigan in 2018, Ohio State vs. Penn State in 2019, Ohio State vs. Iowa in the abbreviated 2020, and Ohio State vs. Michigan again in 2021 and 2022. That none of those matches actually occurred in real life definitely enhances how the divisional structure held this conference back, but the existence of 3 extra Buckeyes-Wolverines games is definitely notable.

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