With 16 teams in the picture and no divisions marrying anyone to a set schedule, the 2024 football season will bring a level of variety we’ve never seen before in the Big Ten.

But there are still some basic rules.

Every team has 3 set 2-year opponents for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Half the teams will play 5 conference home games and 4 road games in ’24, then reverse that order in 2025.

Given those parameters, not every schedule is created equal.

We’ve broken things down and picked the highlights and challenges for each B1G team in 2024, which marks the debut of USC and UCLA in the conference.


Home: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Purdue

Away: Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers, USC

Most interesting game: At USC

Who knew this is technically a rivalry renewed? Illinois and USC have played 13 times, and only 1 of those matchups was in the Rose Bowl. The Illini head to LA Memorial Coliseum for the first time since 1989, when Jeff George led the boys to a 14-13 season-opening upset of the 5th-ranked Trojans.

Takeaway: With games against both Ohio State and Michigan on top of the trip to USC, Illinois is getting chucked from the comforting cocoon of the Big Ten West in a harsh manner. The Illini have the displeasure of traveling to New Jersey and Los Angeles in the same season, though presumably the league will not lump those trips near each other on the schedule.


Home: Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA

Away: Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin

Most interesting game: UCLA

The Hoosiers and Bruins have never played each other before in football. And history dictates that this should become a basketball rivalry. If you can be rivals with a school that’s 2,100 miles away.

Takeaway: You have to figure Tom Allen will get the opportunity to make things right again in 2024, because the schedule sets up for it. No Michigan or Ohio State. Only 4 conference road games, and Michigan State and Northwestern are certainly places where Indiana is capable of winning. Nebraska too, of course, though Matt Rhule may change that.

2023 will be another rough season in Bloomington, but Indiana should be a bowl team again in ’24.


Home: Maryland, Nebraska, UCLA, Wisconsin

Away: Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State, Rutgers, USC

Most interesting game: At USC

Did you think I’d pick Rutgers?

Expect Ashton Kutcher in the house when Iowa visits LA Coliseum for the first time since 1976. The Hawkeyes actually have a couple wins in the Coliseum, the most recent being in 1961 when the Jerry Burns-led Hawks beat the John McKay-led Trojans, 35-34.

Good luck replicating that score.

Takeaway: Like Illinois, Iowa is stuck going to LA and Jersey in the same season. Not fun. Plus, a trip to Ohio State on top of that. Very not fun. At least there are 5 conference home games.


Home: Michigan State, Purdue, Rutgers, USC, Wisconsin

Away: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan

Most interesting game: USC

I’m going with the novelty of seeing USC in Maryland for the first time, not to mention the fact that the matchup has Pac-12 potential in terms of yards and points.

Takeaway: No Ohio State. No Penn State. It’s somewhat unfortunate 2023 is Taulia Tagovailoa’s last season in College Park, because sweet freedom is right around the corner.


Home: Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, UCLA, Wisconsin

Away: Illinois, Ohio State, Rutgers, USC

Most interesting game: At USC

For maybe the only time in history, the answer to this question is not Ohio State. Michigan and USC are two of the most tradition-rich brands in college football history, and they’ll meet in the regular season for the first time since 1958.

Takeaway: The degree of difficulty for Michigan’s schedule moves up several notches in 2024. In addition to drawing both Los Angeles teams, there’s a nonconference game against Texas to consider. And don’t sleep on the trip to Illinois — Bret Bielema schemed very well against the Wolverines in 2022.

Michigan State

Home: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers

Away: Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State

Most interesting game: At Michigan

The Spartans don’t get either newcomer in 2024. But they do return to the Big House for the first time since last season’s tunnel incident, so expect that storyline to play out ad nauseum on game week.

Takeaway: Michigan State has the last “traditional” Big Ten schedule we’ll ever see in 2024. The Old Brass Spittoon and Land-Grant Trophy remain annual staples!


Home: Iowa, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers

Away: Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, Wisconsin

Most interesting game: At Michigan

As the B1G moves away from tradition, it feels comforting to see the Gophers and Wolverines play for the Little Brown Jug for the first time since 2020 and just the third time since 2016.

Takeaway: The league did a good job splitting Minnesota’s protected rivalries. In 2024, the Gophers get Iowa at home and visit Wisconsin. Getting Ohio State and Michigan the same season is a challenge, but at least the Buckeyes come to Minnesota. A tough but equitable schedule.


Home: Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Away: Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA

Most interesting game: At Penn State

This delightful clash of white helmets with a colored stripe down the middle has only taken place twice since 2013. The beauty of the Big Ten’s new Flex Protect Plus schedule is that the Cornhuskers and Nittany Lions are now assured of seeing each other every other year.

Takeaway: On top of being a bad football team, the Huskers were stuck playing either Michigan or Ohio State (or both) during the program’s recent decline. 2024 marks the first time since 2015 that neither the Wolverines nor Buckeyes are on Nebraska’s schedule. Mercifully.


Home: Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, USC

Away: Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA

Most interesting game: USC

When two of the premier drama programs in the country get together, there’s no telling what could happen. Or maybe there is. The Trojans are 5-0 all-time against the Wildcats, including a pair of wins at Ryan Field (1954 and 1968).

Takeaway: Try as it might, Northwestern isn’t actually embraced as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team.” The Cats are almost always outdrawn by Chicago-area alumni from the other Big Ten schools. But when you frame it as Chicago vs. LA a couple times a year? Maybe the Wildcats will get new fans to come out of the woodwork.

Ohio State

Home: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Rutgers

Away: Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, UCLA

Most interesting game: at Penn State

Remember, Penn State has no protected rivalry games. So this will be the last meeting between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions until 2026. On top of that, Penn State’s roster is sophomore- and junior-laden, meaning 2024 is the year the Lions are built to win the Big Ten.

This could be the B1G game of the year in ’24.

Takeaway: Placement will be everything here. When the full schedule comes out, I’m curious to see who the Buckeyes play the week before Michigan. It’s unlikely to be Penn State. Minnesota is probably locked in with Iowa that week.

Will Ohio State be sent to the West Coast, Michigan State, or close with back-to-back home games?

Penn State

Home: Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, USC

Away: Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Most interesting game: USC

Every one of us will gladly take a reprise of the 2017 Rose Bowl, an absolutely bananas game which the Trojans somehow won 52-49. (Although Penn State fans will probably demand the reprise is reversed on the scoreboard.)

This will be the 11th meeting between the programs — the first of which was in the 1923 Rose Bowl.

Takeaway: Outside of a trip to Wisconsin, this is as friendly as a road schedule can get. Only 4 games away from Happy Valley, and 3 of them are against Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers.

The only thing missing here is a nifty graphic announcing the schedule, which Penn State was somehow too lazy to produce.


Home: Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, USC

Away: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Wisconsin

Most interesting game: USC

A reprise of Purdue’s lone Rose Bowl victory in 1967. Expect that theme to be hit heavily on game week.

Takeaway: Despite having 4 conference home games, Purdue arguably has the friendliest transition for any former Big Ten West team. Penn State and USC will obviously be tough, but both are coming to Ross-Ade. Michigan and Ohio State are nowhere to be found.

The Boilermakers might be able to do something in Ryan Walters’ second season.


Home: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, UCLA

Away: Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State

Most interesting game: Michigan

This season devolved into a 52-17 blowout, but Rutgers actually led the Wolverines by a field goal at halftime. And the previous 2 meetings were decided by a single score. At some point Greg Schiano is going to crack the code against Jim Harbaugh. Maybe it’ll be here.

Takeaway: Eventually, the Flex Protect Plus model will benefit Rutgers because it gets the Scarlet Knights away from Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. But 2024 is Rutgers’ last hurrah against the beasts of the Big Ten East.

Guess that’s why they didn’t make a nifty graphic.


Home: Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, USC

Away: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rutgers

Most interesting game: Ohio State

Expect the Rose Bowl to look like, well, a Rose Bowl — at least half of the stadium awash in scarlet and gray.

Takeaway: The Bruins have a brutal path in 2024, visiting Hawaii and LSU in nonconference games before jumping into Big Ten play for the first time.


Home: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin

Away: Maryland, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, UCLA

Most interesting game: Michigan

It’s not just a matchup of classic brands, or potential top-10 teams — it’s a fascinating contrast in styles between Jim Harbaugh and Lincoln Riley. Provided neither is poached by an NFL team in the next year. (They won’t be, but the possibility never seems to go away.)


Home: Indiana, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue

Away: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, USC

Most interesting game: At USC

The Badgers are making their first trip to the Coliseum since 1966. And with Wisconsin’s new-look offense, it could be a shootout.

Takeaway: An intriguing and challenging schedule. Getting Penn State at home is big. But Michigan, USC, Iowa and Nebraska could all be pretty stout road tests in a couple of years.