Welcome to the B1G league: Ranking Pac-12 teams' best Big Ten matchups in 2024
Glass is half empty: We lose the Rose Bowl, and all that makes the Granddaddy of Them All the most special postseason game in college football.
Glass is half full: Now we get a whole season of those classic matchups.
UCLA versus Penn State. USC versus Michigan. Washington versus Ohio State. Oregon versus Rutgers.
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OK, not all of this is great. But you’ve got to be pretty darn stuck in the mud to not be at least a little intrigued by the upcoming 2024 Big Ten conference matchups, which were released Thursday, all the way up to 2028.
But that’s a far way off. We have no idea if Lincoln Riley will be with the Trojans or the New England Patriots by then (sorry, Beli). Why think so far ahead instead of treasuring what will make a bigger B1G that much better in 2024.
Welcome to the new Big Ten.
6 Teams in the College Football AP Top 10
Welcome to the greatest super-conference in all of college football.
This league is going to be ELECTRIC next season 🧨✨ pic.twitter.com/th3tQfqhvU
— College Football Blue Bloods (@bluebloodsbias) October 3, 2023
Here are the matchups that get me excited a year early …
Maryland at Oregon: Just imagine the uniform combinations! Every color of the rainbow! Maybe even glow in the dark! Forget the football, it’s all about the fashion in this one.
Washington at Iowa: Just imagining the innovative 25th century Huskies passing attack going against the 1920s-style Iowa offense is going to be hilarious.
Northwestern at Washington: The Wildcats take on only 1 former Pac-12 squad in 2024 — the Huskies in what should be called the Grape Bowl. All purple, all the time.
Rutgers at USC: Cross-country trip for a conference tilt at USC? Good luck, Rutgers! Bring some pizza and Italian hot dogs.
Oregon at Wisconsin: Luke Fickell vs. Dan Lanning. That is a heck of a coaching matchup.
7. UCLA at Penn State
Series record: UCLA leads 4-2
Last played: 1968 (Penn State 21, UCLA 6)
B1G moments: This rivalry defined the 1960s — the Bruins hippy west coast culture against the Midwest snarl of State College. They met 6 straight years between 1963 and 1968, with the Bruins’ 4 straight wins from ’64-’67 sandwiched by 2 Nittany Lion victories.
What’s in store: UCLA star freshman quarterback Dante Moore won’t get to meet either of the Michigan squads in Year 1, so he’ll just have to settle for a prime trip to Penn State. Hell face a cold welcome from a Nittany Lions defense that should again be good. It should be a fun matchup between Moore and PSU QB Drew Allar.
6. Michigan at Washington
Series record: Michigan leads 5-3
Last played: 2021 (Michigan 31, Washington 10)
B1G moments: The 2 great programs have split 4 Rose Bowl matchups, and neither team waiting long for revenge. Washington won their first Rose Bowl matchup in 1978, but Michigan came back 3 years later and took it to the Huskies in a 23-6 win. Then after Washington won it in 1992, the Wolverines came back a year later to even the score. The last time the teams met in 2021, though, Michigan found the Huskies in the middle of a 4-8 debacle.
What’s in store: But now Kalen DeBoer is in Seattle, and he’s turned things around in short order. Assuming he is able to retain offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb from the prying eyes of wishful teams across the country, it should be a pretty good offensive matchup, even if the parts are different for the Huskies.
5. Penn State at USC
Series record: USC leads 6-4
Last played: 2017 Rose Bowl (USC 52, Penn State 49)
B1G moments: If this game is anything like the past time they met, fans are in store one of the best games of the year. USC won an incredible 2017 Rose Bowl on a last-minute, 46-yard field goal by Matt Boermeester after scoring 17 points in the final 8:15 of a comeback win.
What’s in store: Even if Caleb Williams leaves for the NFL, the Trojans will be fine under center with Lincoln Riley overseeing the scheme and play-calling. But if Alex Grinch is back at defensive coordinator, Drew Allar and Penn State’s offense will have a field day.
4. Oregon at Michigan
Series record: Michigan leads 3-2
Last played: 2007 (Oregon 39, Michigan 7)
B1G moment: The combined margin of the first 3 matchups? Michigan 59, Oregon 0. But those games were all before 1975. They’ve only met twice since, both times in a 5-year window in the mid-2000s, with Oregon winning both, including a 32-point win in 2007. Turns out Phil Knight’s money helps.
What’s in store: The Wolverines will welcome an Oregon squad that is no stranger to hostile territory in the regular season. College football doesn’t get much better than Ann Arbor and Eugene. With some major defensive talent returning, the Wolverines could be in a good spot against a Bo Nix-less Ducks offense.
3. Washington at Penn State
Series record: Penn State leads 3-0
Last played: 2017 Fiesta Bowl (Penn State 35, Washington 28)
B1G moment: They’ve met just a few times, including 2 bowl games, but never in Pasadena. In 2017, a year removed from Washington’s only College Football Playoff appearance — also the Pac-12’s last meaningful postseason run — the Huskies met a forlorn Nittany Lions squad that had watched its own CFP hopes ruined by back-to-back B1G losses at No. 6 Ohio State and No. 24 Michigan State by a combined margin of 4 points. Saquon Barkley rushed for 137 yards and 2 early scores as Penn State built a 28-7 lead before hanging on for the 35-28 win.
What’s in store: After falling into a COVID funk and gong just 11-11 in 2020-21, the Nittany Lions have bounced back, going 11-2 last year with a convincing Rose Bowl over Utah. They’ll provide a stout test for a Huskies squad that will be remade offensively, as they likely say goodbye to at least Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze, if not more.
2. Ohio State at Oregon
Series record: Ohio State leads 9-1
Last played: 2021 (Oregon 35, Ohio State 17)
B1G moment: After first meeting in the 1958 Rose Bowl, a 10-7 Buckeye win, they played each other 4 more times in the next decade, with Ohio State winning all of them. Oregon finally broke an 0-9 streak against the Buckeyes on Sept. 11, 2021, with Ducks running back CJ Verdell going off for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns on 20 carries along with 3 receptions for 34 yards and a score.
What’s in store: The Ducks are going to look very different in 2024, with myriad projected NFL departures. But you know Dan Lanning’s team will be tough and good. Ohio State’s toughness? Maybe a little in question. And that receiving corps will likely be made over. But there’s a reason these teams are in the hunt every year.
1. USC at Michigan
Series record: USC leads 6-4
Last played: 2007 Rose Bowl (USC 32, Michigan 18)
B1G moments: The longest rivalry in the history of the Rose Bowl, the legendary programs have met 8 times in the big game, along with a home-and-home in 1957-58. Michigan got off to a 3-0 start in the rivalry but USC has won 3 straight, including 2 Rose Bowl wins in a 4-year span between 2004-07.
What’s in store: There is at least a sliver of a chance that Caleb Williams returns for yet another Heisman run next year, but USC very well could be in another QBs able hands this time next year. It’s hard to imagine anyone being as good or productive as Williams, though. Michigan will likely lose all-world back Blake Corum, but there’s a strong chance JJ McCarthy returns to polish his 2025 NFL Draft resume.