MOLINE, Ill. — On Wednesday, the Big Ten revealed the 2023 conference football schedule. Each team will meet with all six divisional foes and three non-divisional opponents.
Scheduled Saturday games can still be moved to Fridays, or other special dates, according to the Big Ten's media release.
In July, the Big Ten announced that USC and UCLA would be joining the Big Ten, with their inaugural Big Ten season slated for 2024.
Because of these additions, 2023 will be the final season featuring the current Big Ten divisional layout.
The current format dividing the conference between east and west was adopted in 2014 after Maryland and Rutgers joined. Ever since then, there has been a glaring power differential, with the East division champion winning all eight conference titles.
Since day one, the East Division has been overpopulated with elite teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. The latter three teams have each won just a single division crown, regularly finishing behind juggernaut Ohio State. Teams like Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers have little hope of ever winning a conference title in the crowded East.
Despite causing East Division teams pain and torment for nearly a decade, the configuration has been a godsend for West Division programs.
West teams regularly receive a relatively manageable conference schedule. They only have to play three East Division opponents annually while each East Division team plays all six divisional foes.
Due to the current format, West Division teams have acceded to the conference championship game in eight consecutive seasons, despite only twice finishing the season ranked higher than the East Division's runner-up in the Final AP Poll.
East champion Michigan pounded Iowa 42-3 in last year's Big Ten title game. It serves as the most recent evidence of the need to introduce a new format.
Iowa has twice benefitted from the lopsided divisional arrangement, winning Big Ten titles in 2015 and 2021, gaining just two combined victories during those seasons over teams ranked in the final AP Polls. Leading the Big Ten West with only one ranked match-up on their schedule, Illinois seems poised to benefit from it this year.
Though it hasn't been announced whether the new divisions will retain the 'East' and West' monikers, divisions will not comprise the same teams in 2024.
The 2023 season might very well be the best chance for a West Division team to steal a Big Ten Title for years to come.
Let's take a look at the freshly unveiled 2023 schedules for local teams, Illinois and Iowa.
Illinois' conference slate features four home games and five road matches. The Fighting Illini start their season with three non-conference matches. They'll host Toledo on Sept. 2, travel to Kansas on Sept. 9 and host Florida Atlantic on Sept. 23.
From the East Division, Illinois avoids Ohio State and Michigan, drawing favorable crossover games with Penn State, Maryland and Indiana.
They open conference play on Sept. 16 with a home match against Penn State. They hit the road for a Sept. 30 date against Purdue, before hosting Nebraska on Oct. 7. The rest of their schedule features home games with Wisconsin and Indiana, and road matches against Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.
Saturday, Sept. 2 -- vs. Toledo
Saturday, Sept. 9 -- at Kansas
Saturday, Sept. 16 -- vs. Penn State
Saturday, Sept. 23 -- vs. Florida Atlantic
Saturday, Sept. 30 -- at Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 7 -- vs. Nebraska
Saturday, Oct. 14 -- at. Maryland
Saturday, Oct. 21 -- vs. Wisconsin
Saturday, Nov. 4 -- at Minnesota
Saturday, Nov. 11 -- vs. Indiana
Saturday, Nov. 18 -- at. Iowa
Saturday, Nov. 25 -- at Nebraska
Iowa will play five conference home games and four road matches. Before conference play begins, they'll host Utah State on Sept. 2, travel to Iowa State on Sept. 9 and host Western Michigan on Sept. 16.
From the East Division, Iowa avoids Ohio State and Michigan, drawing favorable crossover games with Penn State, Michigan State and Rutgers.
The Hawkeyes open conference play on the road against Penn State on Sept. 23 before back-to-back home games against Michigan State on Sept. 30 and Purdue on Oct. 7. The rest of their schedule features home games with Minnesota, Rutgers and Illinois, and road matches against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska.
Iowa plays one Friday game, the regularly-scheduled Black Friday match against rival Nebraska.
Saturday, Sept. 2 -- vs. Utah State
Saturday, Sept. 9 -- at Iowa State
Saturday, Sept. 16 -- vs. Western Michigan
Saturday, Sept. 23 -- at Penn State
Saturday, Sept. 30 -- vs. Michigan State
Saturday, Oct. 7 -- vs. Purdue
Saturday, Oct. 14 -- at Wisconsin
Saturday, Oct. 21 -- vs. Minnesota
Saturday, Nov. 4 -- at Northwestern
Saturday, Nov. 11 -- vs. Rutgers
Saturday, Nov. 18 -- vs. Illinois
Friday, Nov. 24 -- at Nebraska
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