2014 will spark a new era in the Big Ten with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers to the conference fold. It also meant the Big Ten needed to redo it's conference schedules for football and earlier this afternoon the Big Ten announced the 2014 slate of games (which you can find in full here).
The biggest takeaway from it all? Try the Big Ten going all-in on rivalry weekend to end the season. Every single game played over the final weekend of the season is a rivalry game and it's perhaps the smartest move the conference could make.
Getting OSU vs. Michigan, Wisconsin vs. Minnesota, Penn State vs. Michigan State, Nebraska vs. Iowa, Indiana vs. Purdue, Northwestern vs. Illinois, and Rutgers vs. Maryland all on the same weekend will make a national audience want to tune in to Big Ten football and isn't that the ultimate goal?
For a school like Wisconsin there's also the fact that they get four games against the division to end the season and more of that type of scheduling is smart for the conference as a whole. That means getting the likes of Purude, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota to end your season if you're a UW fan. On the whole ever school gets at least two games inside it's division to end the season and that should make fans happy along with it ensuring meaningful football games throughout the final month of the season.
It's all about making sure eyeballs are glued to TV sets and butts are in the seats and moves like these will make that happen. Consider this a master stroke for Jim Delany and the AD's throughout the conference if you ask us.
Not everyone will be happy and that's the nature of things, but on the whole it's hard to say the Big Ten didn't get it right in my book.