With less than three months to the start of the college football season, the summer is the time to analyze and over analyze the upcoming season's schedule. The Big Ten has made two key changes to non-conference scheduling for football moving forward. The 2016 season will be the first with nine conference games on the schedule, thus eliminating one non-conference game moving forward. In addition, the Big Ten decided that schools can no longer schedule FCS opponents. The deadline for this change is the 2018 season, as several schools already had games scheduled. These changes will alter the way in which non-conference scheduling is done moving forward.
For example, Rutgers has played an FCS school every season since 2004, winning all but one game, the very first one 12 years ago against New Hampshire. This was one week after Rutgers stunned Michigan State at home, an upset victory that marked the beginning of the modern era for the program. Rutgers has now won 11 games in a row against FCS opponents. They already had an FCS opponent scheduled for the following two seasons, with games against Howard in 2016 and Morgan State in 2017.
Tom Dienhart from BTN ranked the Big Ten East's non-conference schedules for the 2016 season and he pinned Rutgers in the middle at #4. Starting the season against Washington on the road will make for an extremely difficult debut for new Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. In addition, Rutgers hosts New Mexico in week 3, a team that played in a bowl game last season. Ohio State was ranked with the toughest schedule due to a road game at fellow national championship contender Oklahoma. Maryland was ranked as having the easiest schedule with a home game against Howard, followed by road games at FIU and UCF.
Non-conference basketball schedules change often and contracts aren't usually made too far in advance, with sometimes just one game agreed upon. Other than the Gavitt Games and Big Ten-ACC Challenge, no other non-conference basketball games have been announced yet for Rutgers next season. Football non-conference scheduling is far different, with schools coming to home and home agreements years in advance.
Let's take a look at a grid detailing each Big Ten East school's non-conference schedule for the next 10 years. All of the information was sourced from FBSschedules.com. Believe it or not, I could have extended it past the 10 year mark, because Maryland has a 4 year home and home deal with Virginia Tech between 2026-2029. They aren't the only Big Ten East team that has scheduled that far in advance. Michigan will play Oklahoma and Texas one game each during the 2026 and 2027 seasons. Michigan State has Notre Dame scheduled for 2026 and 2027. Still, there are multiple schools with open dates as early as 2018, so let's focus on the next decade. Here are the current non-conference schedules for each team for the next 10 seasons.
|B1G East Team||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||2022||2023||2024||2025|
|FIU||FIU||FIU||Ball State||Ball State||Idaho||Idaho||UMASS|
|Ball State||GA Southern||Ball State||WKU||WKU||WKU||Charlotte||Charlotte|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma||TCU||TCU||Oregon||Oregon||Notre Dame||Notre Dame||BC|
|Bowl Green||UNLV||Oregon St||Cincinnati||Texas||Texas|
|FIU||UCF||Temple||Temple||No Illinois||No Illinois|
|Howard||Towson||Bowl Green||Bowl Green||Towson|
|Hawaii||Air Force||Ball State|
|Notre Dame||Notre Dame||ASU||ASU||Miami||Miami||Boise State||Boise State|
|Kent State||GA State||App State|
Here are a few interesting notes regarding the schedules:
- Indiana's non-conference schedule is confirmed for the next 8 seasons, Maryland is confirmed for the next 5 seasons, Ohio State for the next 4, and Penn State for the next 3. Michigan, Michigan State, and Rutgers are still looking for an opponent to add for 2018 and beyond.
- Games scheduled against power conference opponents: Ohio State (13); Michigan (12); Rutgers (8); Penn State (8); Maryland (6); Indiana (6); Michigan State (6)
- Big Ten East team's with games scheduled against Power Five conference opponents: ACC (24); PAC 12 (14); Big 12 (13); SEC (3)
- Big Ten East team's with games scheduled against non-power conference opponents: AAC (19); MAC (17); Conference USA (12)
- A reminder that Notre Dame is now considered an ACC opponent in football. They are scheduled to play Ohio State and Michigan State twice. BYU is counted as an independent for now, but that could change with the constant threat of conference realignment. The Cougars are scheduled to play Michigan State in 2016 & 2020.
- Regarding the service academy's, Army will play Michigan and Ohio State once each. Air Force is also scheduled to play Michigan once. Navy does not have any games scheduled against the division.
- Conference that each Big Ten East has the most games scheduled against: Indiana - Con USA (8); Ohio State - Big 12 (6); Maryland - MAC/Big 12/AAC (4 each); Michigan - PAC 12 (5); Michigan State - ACC (4); Penn State - ACC (5); Rutgers - PAC 12/AAC (4 each)