The Big Ten Conference has announced their new alignments for their conference football divisions, effective with the 2014 season.
Replacing the Legends and Leaders Divisions will be the simply-named Big Ten East and the Big Ten West.
The Big Ten East will consist of seven teams in the Eastern Time Zone, including Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Rutgers. The West will include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. All schools in the West are located in the Central Time Zone, with the exception of Purdue, leading Big Ten officials to stress that the realignment was done solely on the basis of geography.
The Big Ten also approved a schedule change, beginning in 2016. After two seasons (2014 and 2015) in which all teams will play all six of the other teams in their division, plus two teams from the other division for a total of eight conference games, Big Ten teams, beginning in 2016 will play all of their division opponents, plus three from the opposite division for a total of nine conference games. With the 2016 change, schools in the Big Ten East will play five home conference games in even-numbered years, and schools from the West will have five at home in odd-numbered years.
Meanwhile, Penn State will open the 2013 season with an August 31 game against Syracuse in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Nittany Lions’ home opponents will include Michigan, Nebraska, Purdue, Illinois, Kent State, Central Florida, and Eastern Michigan.