Wisco Wednesday: Post-Realignment Schedule Thoughts

Oregon and Washington are in the B1G (in 2024). Time to rip up the current schedule plans.

I have some thoughts on future B1G schedules I want to touch on with the new additions to the B1G. I don’t think they are very extreme. But, there is likely to be some disagreement. This is a longer article that is a deep dive into schedule making (and how it’s impossible to please everyone). 

Schedule Demands Post Realignment

With Oregon and Washington being added to the B1G the schedule has to be redone, again. I have a couple of demands for the new schedule. They are all common sense, I think, but they should be said.

  1. Stay at 9 conference games. I fear that if the B1G goes to 10 conference games right now, most teams, including Wisconsin, will try to cancel their future, marquee, non-conference matchups. I do not want Wisconsin canceling their home-and-home series vs Alabama for 2024 and 2025. And, I want the B1G to continue playing big non-conference games in the future.
  2. Keep all 11 rivalries highlighted in the previous model, Flex Protect Plus, and keep Oregon vs Washington. This is likely a given, with one exception. Every time the Big Ten reconfigures or redoes the schedule, the Wisconsin vs Iowa game is in jeopardy. Everyone in Iowa and Wisconsin wants that game played. Rivalries are the most important part of college football. It’s one of the few things that make it different from the Sunday game.
  3. Play everyone at least once every 3 years. I’m setting the bar low here. This should be easy. In the current divisional format: teams play cross-division opponents 2 times in 6 years (or an avg of 1 in 3 for people that can do basic math). 
  4. Keep the Ax Game on Thanksgiving weekend.

How I Would Build The Schedule

Give every team 3 protected opponents; I would rather remove games later than regret not having them protected to start.

The current 2024 build (the one being thrown out) has a version of this, but some games are permanently protected, and some are designated to be rotated (2-plays as the B1G calls them). 

If we protect 3 games for everyone, that leaves 6 games on rotation. How often will teams play each other? Non-protected opponents will play 3 times in 7 years. (3 home-and-home series over 14 years).

3 times in 7 years is better than the current 2 times in 6 years from the East-West divisional format. 

Does everyone need 3 protected games? No, but…

Protecting 3 games will reduce travel and encourage future rivalries to form. And, if it isn’t perfect in the first go round, mix up some of the protected games later on.

I am in favor of no divisions and taking the top 2 teams for the conference title game. In some years some teams will have an easier path than others, and tiebreakers will likely piss some teams off. But if you win your games, you’ll be there at the end (or in the 12 team playoff).

The Protected Games by Category

The 11* Must Plays:

Ohio State – Michigan

Michigan State – Michigan

Maryland – Rutgers

Indiana – Purdue

Illinois – Purdue

Illinois – Northwestern

Wisconsin – Minnesota

Iowa – Minnesota

Iowa – Nebraska


Oregon – Washington

*Iowa is Special and Has 3 Rivals:

Iowa – Wisconsin 

(This makes 12 must plays)

Historical Rivals:

Minnesota – Michigan

Illinois – Ohio State

Indiana – Michigan State

Current Competitive Rivalry:

Penn State – Ohio State

Logical Regional Games:

Oregon – USC

Oregon – UCLA

Washington – USC

Washington – UCLA

Penn State – Rutgers

Penn State – Maryland

Nebraska – Wisconsin

Purdue – Northwestern

The Leftovers:

Nebraska – Northwestern

Michigan State – Maryland

Indiana – Rutgers

The Protected Games by Team

Penn State:

Ohio State, Rutgers, Maryland

Ohio State:

Michigan, Illinois, Penn State


Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota

Michigan State:

Michigan, Indiana, Maryland


Rutgers, Penn State, Michigan State


Maryland, Penn State, Indiana


Purdue, Michigan State, Rutgers


Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern


Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State


Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska


Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska


Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin


Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan


Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern


Washington, USC, UCLA


Oregon, USC, UCLA


UCLA, Oregon, Washington


USC, Oregon, Washington

Week 13 – Rivalry Week

Who plays who during rivalry week at the end of the season matters. There are a couple of issues that need to be addressed here.

The every year games:

Michigan – Ohio State

Indiana – Purdue

Illinois – Northwestern

Minnesota – Wisconsin

Iowa – Nebraska

Oregon and Washington:

I would prefer if Oregon – Oregon State and Washington – Washington State stayed the rivalry week games. If that’s not possible, then Oregon – Washington is the obvious replacement.


When USC hosts Notre Dame on the last week of the year, UCLA should play Cal if possible. When USC plays at Notre Dame early in the season, USC – UCLA should be on rivalry week.

PSU, MSU, Rutgers, and Maryland:

In the 3/7 years when Penn State plays Michigan State the rivalry week games will be Penn State – Michigan State and Maryland – Rutgers.

In the other 4/7 years, the matchups will need to be Penn State – Rutgers and Michigan State – Maryland. 

Penn State vs Michigan State is a great end of year game right now, but in this model that game is not protected, so it can’t be the last week game every year.

If you think Penn State – Michigan State must be played every year (and on rivalry week every year), then the fix is to swap protected opponents to PSU – MSU and OSU – Maryland. That’s an option. 

Send this to the B1G office, please

These are most of my thoughts on what the B1G should do with the schedule after Oregon and Washington are added. If the league does anything else, I will likely be disappointed (or impressed they found a solution I didn’t think of). 

If you can get this in front of someone important at the B1G scheduling office, please do so.


Want more Walk On Fan? 

Check out our preview of Wisconsin’s 2023 opponents here.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

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