Three years ago, I came up with a system.

It’s nothing that wild, though in my opinion, it should be used to take the subjectivity out of determining strength of schedule. It’s a scoring system I used to determine who has the toughest slate based on the quality of their opponents. Simple enough, right?

For today, I decided to just take a look at the non-conference schedules in the B1G to answer that question.

Here’s the scoring system:

And look. There’s a reason why I call this a “way-too-early” ranking. It’s because strength of schedule in the preseason is ultimately just for conversational purposes until the games play out. But we’re a long time a way from that happening. Sadly.

So, with that, let’s rank some 2020 B1G non-conference slates from easiest to toughest (the point total for each game is in parentheses):

14. Illinois (30)

  • vs. FCS Illinois State (10)
  • vs. UConn (10)
  • vs. Bowling Green (10)

Worth noting — What an absolute joke. This is as cake of a non-conference schedule as you’ll ever see. Not only are there no Power 5 games there, but those 3 teams combined to go 6-30 last year. Do athletic directors know how awful teams are going to be there year before they play? Not necessarily, but come on. For all the grief SEC schools get about their non-conference slates, this one is as embarrassing as any.

13. Maryland (50)

  • vs. FCS Towson (10)
  • vs. Northern Illinois (10)
  • at West Virginia (30)

Worth noting — I actually think this schedule will prove to be tougher than some other teams ahead of it. It gets a slight bump because while the West Virginia game is on the road, it wasn’t a bowl team last year. Neal Brown’s squad should be better in Year 2, though. The Terps have traditionally scheduled well in the non-conference with the recent home-and-home with Texas. I’ll give them a bit of a pass for having one of the weaker numbers here.

T11. Indiana (60)

  • vs. Western Kentucky (30)
  • vs. Ball State (10)
  • at UConn (20)

Worth noting — I might need to make an amendment to my scoring system. How about zero Power 5 opponents results in subtracting 20 points? Maybe? Just a thought. I’ll give Indiana some credit for at least being willing to travel for a non-conference game all the way up to UConn. And Western Kentucky is by no means a Group of 5 juggernaut, but they were an improved team throughout the 2010s. Still, this is pretty weak.

T11. Iowa (60)

  • vs. FCS Northern Iowa (10)
  • vs. No. 20 Iowa State (40)
  • vs. Northern Illinois (10)

Worth noting – At least the 40-point Iowa State game is in there. The Cyclones are in my way-too-early Top 25 in large part because retaining Matt Campbell makes that program a lot more relevant than they’ve been for most of the 21st century. But this is still about the most prototypical Iowa non-conference schedule imaginable. It would be nice to see the Hawkeyes leave the state for a non-conference game for a change.

T8. Minnesota (70)

  • vs. FAU (30)
  • vs. FCS Tennessee Tech (10)
  • vs. BYU (30)

Worth noting — Minnesota’s slate gets bailed out by the fact that it has 2 bowl teams, though FAU obviously lost Lane Kiffin. The Gophers once again avoided playing a Power 5 team in non-conference play for the third time in as many seasons, yet they actually aren’t in that bad of shape on this list. To me, that says a lot about where B1G scheduling is at right now.

T8. Northwestern (70)

  • vs. Tulane (30)
  • vs. Central Michigan (30)
  • vs. FCS Morgan State (10)

Worth noting — A couple of respectable Group of 5 opponents highlight an extremely meh non-conference slate. Pat Fitzgerald is of the impression that cell phones are ruining college football attendance. Well, believe it or not, people might have better things to do on a Saturday in Chicago than to come watch Tulane take on the Cats. Just a thought.

T8. Rutgers (70)

  • vs. FCS Monmouth (10)
  • vs. Syracuse (20)
  • at Temple (40)

Worth noting — Rutgers did 2 things that are worth praise these days. They scheduled a Power 5 non-conference opponent AND they were willing to travel for a road game. Temple is no walk-in-the-park foe, either. It is ironic that in my scoring system, the Temple game is twice as valuable as the Syracuse game. The hope for Rutgers will be to treat Dino Babers’ squad as rudely as Maryland did last year. That, in Year 1 of the Greg Schiano era (sort of?), will be easier said than done.

T4. Michigan (80)

  • at Washington (40)
  • vs. Ball State (10)
  • vs. Arkansas State (30)

Worth noting — The crazy thing is this non-conference slate grades out pretty tough, and it actually could’ve been even tougher had Michigan left that Virginia Tech home-and-home on the board. The Wolverines coughed up a $375,000 cancelation fee after some schedule shuffling because of the 7 home games per year they wanted to achieve. But a road game at Washington is still tough, even with the surprising departure of Chris Petersen.

T4. Michigan State (80)

  • at BYU (40)
  • vs. Toledo (10)
  • vs. Miami (FL) (30)

Worth noting — Welcome to 2020, where a game against BYU can actually score higher than a game against Miami. I give the Spartans credit for usually having a pretty solid slate of non-conference opponents. Remember, it was Alabama who canceled a home-and-home with them, and unlike many Power 5 schools, MSU is willing to travel across the country for a non-conference road game. This is about as solid of a non-conference schedule as you’ll see from an effort standpoint.

T4. Nebraska (80)

  • vs. Central Michigan (30)
  • vs. FCS South Dakota State (10)
  • vs. No. 19 Cincinnati (40)

Worth noting — Make no mistake. Nebraska got lucky here. It got lucky that the Bearcats aren’t your typical Group of 5 team and Central Michigan turned it around in Year 1 with Jim McElwain. But it’s still a schedule that doesn’t force the Huskers to leave Lincoln, nor does it force them to play a Power 5 team. Sadly, that’s a theme for far too much of the conference. On the bright side, Nebraska already has matchups set to where that won’t happen until at least 2032.

T4. Penn State (80)

  • vs. Kent State (30)
  • at Virginia Tech (40)
  • vs. San Jose State (10)

Worth noting — You’ve probably noticed a theme on this list. Play a Power 5 team on the road or simply play one that’s worth a crap and you’ll get rewarded. That Virginia Tech game is actually a low-key solid recruiting wars matchup. I’m not sure that was the intent of it getting put on the schedule, but I love when a B1G team travels to Blacksburg. It’s one of the coolest introductions in all of sports, in my opinion. Good for the Playoff-hopeful Lions for having an opponent that the selection committee won’t scoff at.

3. Wisconsin (95)

  • vs. FCS Southern Illinois (10)
  • vs. Appalachian State (30)
  • vs. No. 10 Notre Dame in Green Bay (55)

Worth noting — I’m not as crazy about the neutral-site games as the home-and-home series, but I do like the fact that the Badgers set up a unique, fun matchup like this. They’ve been pretty hit-or-miss from a scheduling standpoint under Barry Alvarez, but the Irish as a likely preseason top-10 team will count as a hit. Including Appalachian State, the Badgers actually face 2 teams who ranked in the Top 25 of the final AP Poll. That’s something that only Wisconsin and Purdue can claim. Speaking of the Boilermakers …

T1. Purdue (100)

  • vs. Memphis (30)
  • vs. Air Force (30)
  • at Boston College (40)

Worth noting — Nobody in the B1G has been willing to schedule the depth of non-conference opponents that Purdue has. This is the only B1G team with 3 games of 30 points. Memphis could easily wind up being in my Top 25 come August despite the fact that Mike Norvell is off to Florida State. The good news for the Boilermakers is that Memphis and Boston College, AKA the 2 toughest matchups there, will both have first-year coaches in their first month on the job. But lucky or not, it helps that the 2 Group of 5 opponents on this slate actually both are coming off Top 25 finishes. Once again, Jeff Brohm will have his work cut out for his squad in non-conference play.

T1. Ohio State (100)

  • vs. Bowling Green (10)
  • at No. 9 Oregon (60)
  • vs. Buffalo (30)

Worth noting — See? This is what a quality non-conference schedule should look like. The Buckeyes are traveling to Eugene to face what’ll likely be a preseason top-10 Oregon team. Even with the loss of Justin Herbert, the Ducks return a ton on offense and they just added former Penn State OC and Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead to run that unit. The OSU-Oregon matchup could have as big of a Playoff impact as any non-conference game in 2020. As a result, the Buckeyes earned the right to be No. 1 on this list.