Big Ten FB conference Schedules for 2024-2028

The Big Ten has released conference FB schedules for 2024-2028. There are 12 protected rivalries, including Nebraska vs Iowa. (Iowa gets 3 protected rivalry games, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota.)

The 2nd link has the year-by-year schedules.

Nebraska’s 2024 season includes USC, UCLA, MIchigan and Penn State. Rough!

Sorry, read the chart wrong.

Nebraska plays Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue and USC on the road in 2024, they play Illinois, Rutgers, UCLA and Wisconsin at home.

In 2025 they go to Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State and UCLA while hosting Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Northwestern and USC.

I was expecting more of a modification to the list of protected rivalries. The conference just added Oregon-Washington to the list of 11 rivalries it was planning to protect prior to the latest expansion. But by keeping multiple protected rivalries for some teams, that meant that it was mathematically impossible to achieve the goal of having every team play on every campus in a four-year cycle. While I thought that they could have gotten away with forcing Iowa to settle on just one protected rival, I think they realized that they couldn’t couldn’t limit Michigan to just Ohio State or just Michigan State as an annual game. Something had to give, and what gave was the four-year cycle to visit every school.

Instead, the conference is going with a five-year cycle to meet that goal, which is why today’s announcements cover the five seasons from 2024 through 2028 where this spring’s announcement prior to the latest expansion only covered two years with the option of changing out UCLA and Minnesota from Nebraska’s extra opponents to go with Iowa. (It is interesting that Minnesota went from being one of the extra flex games in Nebraska’s schedule rotation to being entirely off of Nebraska’s schedule next year, along with Northwestern from the current B1G West.)

The stated goals of the new five-year rotation are:

  1. Protected rivals play every year.
  2. Everybody plays everybody else at least twice, home and away.
  3. Nobody but the protected rivals plays more than three times in five years.

According to the conference, the selections of those additional third games in the five-year cycle will be made with an eye towards:

  • Balance of annual travel by distance, regions of the conference, and time zones.
  • Maintaining control and flexibility as the college football postseason format evolves, with the goal to create access for programs into an expanded College Football Playoff.
  • Balance of historic competitiveness and recent competitive trends, including home/away balance of traditionally competitive schools.

Anyway, the breakdown for Nebraska in this five-year cycle is:

  • One team we play every year: Iowa
  • Four teams we play three times, including twice on the road:
    Minnesota: @2025, 2027, @2028
    Purdue: @2024, 2027, @2028
    Ohio State: @2024, 2026, @2027
    USC: @2024, 2025, @2028
  • Four teams we play three times, including twice at home:
    Northwestern: 2025, @2027, 2028
    Rutgers: 2024, @2026, 2027
    UCLA: 2024, @2025, 2028
    Wisconsin: 2024, @2027, 2028
  • Eight teams we play just twice:
    Illinois: 2024, @2026
    Indiana: @2024, 2026
    Maryland: @2025, 2026
    Michigan: 2025, @2028
    Michigan State: 2025, @2026
    Oregon: @2026, 2027
    Penn State: @2025, 2028
    Washington: 2026, @2027

We play newcomers USC and UCLA both years out of the gate. We don’t play Oregon and Washington at all during those two years. We play everyone else exactly once during those two years (except protected rival Iowa, of course). This balance does break down a bit at the end of the cycle, however. There are four teams that we don’t play during both 2027 and 2028 (Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Michigan State). I’m guessing that they will be forced to be priority games for the 2029 schedule when it comes out. Every team (except Iowa) does have a two-year gap somewhere in the cycle. Nobody ended up playing Nebraska in just the three even-numbered years or just the two odd-numbered years, though that was mathematically possible. Illinois and Indiana appear in the first two even-numbered years, but not 2028.

I do think agree that the 2025 schedule is probably the toughest on paper, but it appears to be reasonably well-balanced overall during the full five-year cycle with Nebraska probably playing about the right mix of the flexible third games befitting their current status as a somewhat-faded, but still high-profile brand in college football.

P.S. Having an odd number of conference games and also having various numbers of protected opponents introduces some additional constraints or biases in the allocation of the flexible games in a five-year cycle. Nine teams have five home games in odd-numbered years like Nebraska, with the other nine having the extra home game in even-numbered years. I expect this partition into two distinct sets of teams to continue indefinitely unless the conference goes to ten games or expands again. When allocating additional flex games, it will be naturally easier to match up teams that are in the opposite phase. For example, it will be easier for Nebraska to play a game against UCLA than it will be to play USC since UCLA has an extra home slot during the years that Nebraska has an extra road slot. This is ameliorated somewhat by the fact that all three of those teams have exactly one protected rivalry and that rivalry game accounts for the extra home or road game for all three teams. Therefore, when scheduling Nebraska against USC or UCLA, all three teams have four home and four road slots available that aren’t already committed to protected rivalries, eliminating the scheduling bias in that specific example. However, this does not hold true across the board. Michigan State has one protected rival, but they play Michigan on the road when they have five home games. So Michigan State’s available slots after accounting for the protected game alternate between five home and three road games in odd-numbered years followed by three home and five road games in even-numbered years. Purdue has two protected rivalries, Illinois and Indiana, that are either both home games or both away games, so even though they have the extra home game in the same odd-numbered years as Nebraska, they are actually in the opposite group since they only have three available home slot free in those odd-years, the same as Michigan State. Because of this mismatch, it will be slightly harder to pair those schools up. But the B1G did manage to make them into three-game opponents for this cycle, nonetheless.

You have spent way too much time in this.


Sadly, I am way too over-analytical.

Back in the 80’s, the National League had a beautifully symmetric schedule structure that became apparent when looking at the schedules they listed on the back of the annual “Green Book” for the 162 games for the 12 teams. The 12 teams were divided into two divisions, each team playing 18 games against teams in their division and 12 against teams in the other division. For scheduling purposes, each division was divided into two halves for the two-fifths of the schedule where inter-divisional play was occurring and into three pairs for the three-fifths of the schedule containing intra-divisional games. The schedule could have been laid out naturally over 27 weeks by playing one weekend series and one weekday series each week plus one off day, but the schedule makers needed to accommodate the All-Star break and also compress the entire season into 26 weeks. They did this by having a few weeks of divisional games that were played as a pair of two-game series within a select series of weeks. Knowing all this, and memorizing just the pattern for one team (the Cardinals, since I became a fan while attending WUSTL in the early 80’s), I could recite the upcoming opponents for all of the teams in the league when looking at the out-of-town scoreboard. Nowadays, that is not possible. You would have to memorize the order of each team’s entire schedule independently.

I do still pay attention to the NFL schedule rotation, in part because my youngest son has plans to attend a Broncos game in every stadium. The way the NFL works, you basically have only one chance in every eight years to catch a game on the other conference stadiums. This year, it’s the Bears (last week) and the Lions (in December). For AFC games, it’s once every six years, plus a one-in-four chance in two of the other years in the cycle, depending on whether both teams finish in the same slot in the standings for their division in the previous year. (The 17th game added to the schedule back in 2021 does give an additional opportunity for a third NFC road game every other year. Last year was Carolina for the Broncos. But the schedule rotation to spread out that opportunity evenly over all four divisions is 16 years. In a 16-year cycle under the current schedule, there are two guaranteed opportunities – not counting international games or Covid years – plus one additional chance on average, though the average is built from a fair number of zeroes plus maybe a handful of places where you can play as many as four additional games, six in all in the most unlikely distribution.)

See, far too analytical!

Great work, Steve.

The Huskers need to get in gear before 2025. Hopefully the Illinois game will mark a turning point.

The unanswerable question is whether the Big Ten will still be just 18 teams by the end of this set of schedule rotations. Odds might be 50-50.

I’m somewhat surprised the Big Ten didn’t grab Stanford and Cal.

Greg Zimmerman, UNL '75
Overland Park, Kansas

My guess is their added value to the media contracts was well below their annual payout.

But academically, you’re right, they should have grabbed them.

They don’t bring much to the table in terms of viewership/market share/valuation. The Bay Area isn’t much of a college football market.


We’re going to be at the game in Champaign tonight and I’d like to be able to listen to the Husker Radio Network during the game. Any ideas on what radio station in the area might be carrying it? Or possibly streaming it on the Internet?


Jerry, true not many College football fans in the Bay Area unless Stanford is playing Cal. But hey! Have some sympathy for those of us who are still stuck in California! Having Stanford in the B1G would have been sweet for this Husker fan!

Go Big Red!

Totally agree Lynette! As it is, I’m planning my annual visit to USC or UCLA for a Husker game day!! GBR!!!

Looking at the list of stations on the Nebraska network, I didn’t see any east of the Missouri.

I think there’s an option there to stream the games, but I’ve never tried it.

Coverage of tonight’s game starts at 3pm!

I am not necessarily against having the Big 10 come to be the Big 18 or more. However, through all of this my interest in college football is waning some. Eighteen, or more, teams in one conference? Come on.

One thing I would like to see is the NCAA make a rule that says if a team wants to be in the National Title hunt they have to be a member of a conference. That has nothing to do with what is now called the Big 10 but it has rubbed me a little wrong for quite a while. If a team doesn’t want to be in a conference then fine. They have that right. Just don’t expect to be a part of the National Title process.

I also would like to see the NCAA set a maximum number that can be in a conference. I know that opens other cans of worms but no situation will ever be perfect.

John Papenhagen

I have my doubts that the NCAA could pass a rule limiting the number of teams in a conference, much less have the courts uphold it.

The only significant team that is independent is Notre Dame, and they march to the beat of their own drummer, and have for decades. BYU went independent for a while but joined the Big Twelve because it was a better deal for them. As long as NBC is willing to fund Notre Dame football, they’ll never become a full-fledged conference member in football. The ACC has the inside track if they ever do decide to become a full-fledge conference member, though Notre Dame might find a way around that if they ever come to their senses and realize they belong in the Big Ten.

CTE is the 1000 pound gorilla that might eventually prevail.

Mike Nolan



This might work, Jerry, depending on you internet connection.
I think it is $5:00/year. It has the 590 radio crew . It is actually ahead of television by a play

CTE - chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Lawsuits for CTE are starting to pop up at the high school sports level. IMHO CTE is more likely to damage college football than all the conference realignment and union/pay-for-play effforts.