Rating the 2014 Non-Conference Slate: Big Ten

Up next is our survey of the big-boy schools of the Midwest, the Big Ten.

  1. Northwestern (1.25 legit, 1 FCS): California, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, @Notre Dame. It’s pretty bad when a traditional conference patsy tops the list, but such is the case in the Big Ten this season. It’d be even worse except for the fact Cal has been awful the last couple of seasons, decreasing their appeal in terms of the “legit” rating.
  2. Michigan (1, 0.5): Appalachian State, @Notre Dame, Miami, Utah. Michigan tries to exact revenge for their embarrassment seven years ago. For the record, the Miami here is the one in the MAC.
  3. Michigan State (1, 1): Jacksonville State, @Oregon, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming. One of the premier inter-sectional games of the season has to be Michigan State-Oregon. Looking over this schedule, it’ll be the Big Ten’s only shot at another conference’s power team, and Sparty can improve the entire conference’s chances in the post-season with a win.
  4. Wisconsin (1, 1): N-Louisiana State, Western Illinois, Bowling Green, South Florida. Okay, I guess there’s one other shot, with this neutral site game against LSU. I can’t say I like the Big Ten’s odds in either contest, but I like Sparty’s better.
  5. Nebraska (1, 1): Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, @Fresno State, Miami. In this case, it is that Miami, which I guess also falls under the above category. But hey, too late to change course now. Also, while Nebraska-Miami might actually be a good game, it’s hard to see it affecting the national title race.
  6. Purdue (1, 1): Western Michigan, Central Michigan, N-Notre Dame, Southern Illinois. The battle for Indiana’s soul will happen, somewhat appropriately, in Indianapolis. Provided Indiana’s “soul” doesn’t also include, you know, Indiana.
  7. Ohio State (0.75, 0): N-Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati. VPI might give the Buckeyes a run for their money, but even with Braxton Miller they should still be able to outscore the Hokies. Otherwise, this schedule presents no obstacles.
  8. Maryland (0.75, 1): James Madison, @South Florida, West Virginia, @Syracuse. Sometimes, when undergoing drastic changes in your life, you need some stability. Something to keep you grounded. For the Terps, their anchors are apparently West Virginia (a team they’ve met 50 times overall, and in each season going back to 2010) and Syracuse (a team they’ve played 35 times and shared a conference with, albeit briefly).
  9. Iowa (0.5, 1): Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State, @Pittsburgh. So, wait, Iowa can figure out a way to play Pitt but West Virginia can’t? Here are asimsports, we’re still all in favor of traditional rivalry games, but such is the reality of realignment.
  10. Indiana (0.5, 1): Indiana State, @Bowling Green, @Missouri, North Texas. I’d say something about this schedule, but there’s not really much to say other than this is an extremely rare trip by a Big Ten team to a MAC stadium. I’m not kidding, either. Since 1920, the current members of the Big Ten have played the current member of the MAC 292 times, and only in 19 of those contents has the Big Ten team been the visitor. But Indiana is just cool like that, they also did the same favor for UMass in 2012.
  11. Illinois (0.5, 1): Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, @Washington, Texas State. Usually, what the deal is with this is I look over the opponents and try to come up with something interesting. If I can’t think of anything, I then go with something like “the last time [team] played [conference] on the road was in [year]”. Noting the away game in Seattle, I figured I could use that here. Nope. Illinois played Arizona State on the road in 2012.
  12. Minnesota (0.5, 1): Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee State, @Texas Christian, San Jose State. This totally slipped past me, I guess because I don’t really care that much, but the Gophers’ old home, the Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome, was demolished earlier this year. Now, Minnesota moved out a couple years ago, but the building was torn down to make way for a new Vikings Stadium. So in the interim, Minnesota will share a stadium with the local NFL club again. As part of the deal, they also got some upgrades to their already mostly new on-campus stadium, most notably a heating system for the field to allow it to be playable late in the NFL season.
  13. Rutgers (0.25, 1): N-Washington State, Howard, Navy, Tulane. Not much to see here, unfortunately.
  14. Pennsylvania State (0, 0): N-Central Florida, Akron, Massachusetts, Temple. Well, on the flip side, all these teams are technically in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

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