The Big Ten has released its 2015 and 2016 schedules and we can now get a good idea of what current recruits will face as upperclassmen. Granted, 2016 is a loooong way away and the landscape of the Big Ten could be much different, but let's take a quick look at both schedules.
|Date||2015 Opp.||Date||2016 Opp.|
|Oct 3||@ Michigan State||Oct 1||Michigan State|
|Oct 10||Wisconsin||Oct 8||@ Minnesota|
|Oct 17||Minnesota||Oct 15||Northwestern|
|Oct 24||@ Illinois||Oct 22||Bye|
|Oct 31||Bye||Oct 29||@ Wisconsin|
|Nov 7||Nebraska||Nov 5||Illinois|
|Nov 14||@ Northwestern||Nov 12||@ Nebraska|
|Nov 21||@ Iowa||Nov 19||Iowa|
|Nov 28||Ohio State||Nov 26||@ Ohio State|
Some initial reactions:
- As has been pointed out on twitter by Kyle Meinke, things set up well for a Michigan/Michigan State night game in one or both years to open the Big Ten season. If both teams continue to play at the top of the conference -- no reason to expect either to slip -- I wouldn't be surprised if one of those games gets a visit from the College Gameday crew.
- You want to prematurely talk about national title runs? Set your sights on 2015 because getting Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Ohio State at home gives Michigan an advantage and a pretty solid strength of schedule when paired with tough but manageable games against Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois on the road.
- You want to panic? Look at the back half of the 2016 schedule. Five games in five weeks with three of them on the road (Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Ohio State) sandwiched around home games vs. Illinois and Iowa. That is a gauntlet, folks.
- Notice who isn't listed? That would be Indiana, Purdue, and Penn State. Michigan will get Penn State and Indiana in the next round of scheduling (2013. 2014), but loses big by avoiding both Indiana schools in '15 and '16. The beauty of protected rivalries is that Michigan always gets Ohio State, but the downside is...Michigan always gets Ohio State. Now is the time to shoot glares at Michigan State (rival Indiana) and Iowa (rival Purdue) for lucking out.
- Depending on your view of the Bye week being a good thing or a bad thing before a tough game, Michigan either lucked out or is at a disadvantage with two challenging opponents (Nebraska '15, Wisconsin '16) following the week off.
- One thing is appreciated: Michigan gets the Bye in the middle of both seasons, rather than early or late. This breaks the schedule up a bit more and should help the team recover going into two tough home stretches.
- Hopefully 2016 has a marquee non-conference opponent coming to town early, because that is a pretty lousy home schedule with Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Ohio State all on the road.
- If the status quo holds, Ohio State should have a pretty easy path to the Championship game in both years. The Buckeyes have all the three Leaders division punching bags -- Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois -- with the added bonus of Minnesota as a crossover game.
- Meanwhile, Minnesota gets the toughest looking schedule with all five Legends division opponents and crossover games against Ohio State and Wisconsin (plus Purdue).
Bonus per twitter:
I can report ESPN has removed Pam Ward from its college football coverage.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 21, 2012
No more Pam Ward or Craig James? Pinch me, I've got to be dreaming.