Big games in the Big Ten are nothing new during conference play, but many teams have intriguing matchups prior to that. Here’s a breakdown ranking each school’s 2017 schedule.
Important games in Big Ten play begin immediately and carry through to division battles and rivalry matchups, highlighted by the annual Ohio State vs. Michigan showdown on the final weekend of the regular season.
But if one of those teams want take it a step further and compete for the national championship, its best shot is to go through its entire schedule unscathed.
Plenty of Big Ten teams will be tested by quality opponents even prior to the conference gauntlet this season. For instance, Michigan kicks off its season on Sept. 2 against Florida at AT&T Stadium, and Maryland will be just down the road in Austin when it faces Texas and new head coach Tom Herman that same day.
The Jeff Brohm era begins at Purdue that Saturday, as well, as the Boilermakers take on reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and Louisville at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. And Iowa won’t be looking past a tough Wyoming team when the Cowboys invade Iowa City that same day.
Ohio State and Penn State face tough obstacles in their quests for the College Football Playoff the following week. The Buckeyes welcome Oklahoma to Columbus, and the Nittany Lions host a Pittsburgh team that wound up keeping them out of the Playoff this past season.
The conference also gets a look at two of the biggest new coaching hires Sept. 9, with Wisconsin hosting Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic while Nebraska travels to Eugene to face Willie Taggert’s Oregon Ducks.
All of that comes after P.J. Fleck makes his debut at Minnesota when the Golden Gophers face Buffalo on Thursday, Aug. 31.
Here’s how the Big Ten schedules stack up against each other. The rankings are based off of opponents’ 2016 winning percentages and includes non-conference and Big Ten foes on the 2017 slate.
Big Ten Football Schedule Rankings For 2017
14. Indiana – .457 (opponent win percentage)
13. Minnesota – .477
12. Northwestern – .488
11. Wisconsin – .494
10. Penn State – .507
9. Ohio State – .521
T-7. Iowa – .525
T-7. Nebraska – .525
6. Rutgers – .536
5. Michigan – .541
4. Maryland – .545
3. Purdue – .547
2. Michigan State – .577
1. Illinois – .584