Courtesy of the Big Ten Conference
PARK RIDGE, Ill. â€“ The Big Ten Conference office announced football division alignments beginning with the 2011 season as recommended by conference directors of athletics and reviewed and supported by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors. Nebraska will officially begin conference competition in 2011, giving the Big Ten 12 football programs for the first time in conference history.
The winner of each Big Ten division will meet in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game, to be played December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The championship game will determine the Big Ten Champion and the conferenceâ€™s participant in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.
The Big Ten football division alignments will include a division featuring Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, and a division featuring Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. Each school will play the other five schools within its division and will also face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed on an annual basis. The guaranteed cross-division matchups are Illinois-Northwestern, Indiana-Michigan State, Ohio State-Michigan, Penn State-Nebraska, Purdue-Iowa and Wisconsin-Minnesota. Names for each Big Ten football division will be announced at a later date.
â€œOver the past several months, Big Ten staff and directors of athletics have met on several occasions to discuss and finalize division alignments,â€ said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. â€œWe focused on competitive equality, traditional rivalries and geography. We considered multiple models and countless permutations in an effort to achieve the most competitively balanced divisions while at the same time respecting our traditions, preserving existing rivalries, and creating opportunities for the establishment and growth of new rivalries. We have listened to the feedback from our institutions, alumni and fans, and while we understand that no final alignments could possibly satisfy all of our constituents, we believe that we have achieved a very exciting result.â€
With the division alignments finalized, the Big Ten also announced updated conference schedules for the 2011 and 2012 football seasons. The 2011 and 2012 intraconference schedules are attached as PDFs.
The 115th season of Big Ten football kicks off Thursday, Sept. 2, as Indiana hosts Towson, Minnesota plays at Middle Tennessee State, and Ohio State welcomes Marshall. The conferenceâ€™s other eight teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 4.