Big Ten Announces Football Division Alignments; 2011-2012 Schedules

Big Ten division winners to meet in inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game

Park Ridge, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference office announced football division alignments beginning with the 2011 season as recommended by conference directors of athletics and reviewed and supported by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors. Nebraska will officially begin conference competition in 2011, giving the Big Ten 12 football programs for the first time in conference history.

We received the Big Ten football division alignments as well as the schedules for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  The scheduling process was difficult because the Big Ten is attempting to preserve a large number of rivalry games and have as many of those games as possible fall at approximately the same point in the season as they have in the past.

The schedule will be challenging, but also interesting for our players, coaches and fans.  Nebraska is not a voting member at this time so we were not able to vote on the schedule, but I was allowed to provide input.  We look forward to being in the Big Ten, but at this point need to turn our attention fully to the task at hand this season.  We hope to finish with a good year in the Big 12 Conference.

-- Nebraska Athletic Director
   Tom Osborne

"I know the Big Ten Conference has made a great effort to create divisions that are competitive and fair, while protecting rivalries, and I am confident they have done that. I know it is exciting for our fans to think about, but that is a year away. Our focus is completely on the task at hand, which is Western Kentucky on Saturday night."

-- Nebraska Football Head
    Coach Bo Pelini

The winner of each Big Ten division will meet in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game, to be played December 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The championship game will determine the Big Ten Champion and the conference's participant in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

The Big Ten football division alignments will include a division featuring Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin, and a division featuring Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern. Each school will play the other five schools within its division and will also face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed on an annual basis. The guaranteed cross-division matchups are Illinois-Northwestern, Indiana-Michigan State, Ohio State-Michigan, Penn State-Nebraska, Purdue-Iowa and Wisconsin-Minnesota. Names for each Big Ten football division will be announced at a later date.

"Over the past several months, Big Ten staff and directors of athletics have met on several occasions to discuss and finalize division alignments," said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. "We focused on competitive equality, traditional rivalries and geography. We considered multiple models and countless permutations in an effort to achieve the most competitively balanced divisions while at the same time respecting our traditions, preserving existing rivalries, and creating opportunities for the establishment and growth of new rivalries. We have listened to the feedback from our institutions, alumni and fans, and while we understand that no final alignments could possibly satisfy all of our constituents, we believe that we have achieved a very exciting result."

With the division alignments finalized, the Big Ten also announced updated conference schedules for the 2011 and 2012 football seasons. The 2011 and 2012 intraconference schedules are attached as PDFs.

The 115th season of Big Ten football kicks off Thursday, Sept. 2, as Indiana hosts Towson, Minnesota plays at Middle Tennessee State, and Ohio State welcomes Marshall. The conference's other eight teams open action on Saturday, Sept. 4.