Big Ten announces it will move to a 9-game football schedule for 2017
The Big Ten announced in a press release today it will move to a nine-game football schedule beginning in 2017.
Michigan will play five home league games in even-numbered years, beginning in 2018. It will play four home games in odd-numbered years.
The change from eight conference games to nine had been discussed for the past year, after the Big Ten added Nebraska as its 12th member and introduced division play. The Big Ten has played eight conference games every season since 1985.
In the current model, each Big Ten team faces five divisional opponents and one protected cross-division rival, and doesn't play three teams from the other division each year. That means each team will miss one cross-divisional opponent until 2015.
Michigan's cross-division rival is Ohio State, and won't play Wisconsin until 2015.
The nine-game schedule in 2017 assures all teams will meet at least six times in a 10-year span rather than four times in 10 years.
The nine-game schedule had been anticipated after officials at Purdue said last month they were told by the league to clear some of their 2017 schedule.
Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke told the Indianapolis Star a nine-game schedule was coming.
Now, it’s a reality.
The 2017 schedule will include five conference home games for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska of the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division.
The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Leaders Division.
The Big Ten last played a nine-game schedule in 1983 and 1984. Eight of 10 conference schools also played nine-game schedules from 1981-82, and two of 10 from 1971-72 and 1977-80.