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Michigan Football: Breaking Down Wolverines' Future in Expanded Big Ten

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Michigan Football: Breaking Down Wolverines' Future in Expanded Big Ten
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With changes coming in the Big Ten, each school’s fans are wondering what that will mean for their respective team. 

After Maryland and Rutgers left their respective conferences to join the Big Ten, the league has realigned its divisions. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported how the Leaders and Legends breakup would look after the new additions. 

This means that the Wolverines will compete with Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Northwestern for a spot in the Big Ten title game every season.

Here is how the changes will affect Michigan going forward.

 

Competition in the Division

The competition in the Legends division is unlikely to change much.

Illinois is 2-10 this season and hasn’t won more than seven games since reaching the Rose Bowl in 2007. The Illini will likely continue struggling to consistently field a competitive team.

The main threats towards the Wolverines' path to a conference championship will continue to be Nebraska, who will represent the Leaders division this year in the title game, and Michigan State. The Spartans are in the midst of a disappointing campaign, but Mark Dantonio will get the team back on track in future seasons.

Michigan’s path to the top of its division remains unchanged following the Big Ten’s expansion.

 

Placement in the BCS Standings

The Big Ten has failed to offer the same level of competition as the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and even the ACC this season. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers is unlikely to change that.

Rutgers started the season with an impressive 7-0 run, but the Scarlet Knights have gone 2-2 in their last four contests. Maryland has not turned any heads with its play this season and is 4-8.

The Associated Press poll voters were disenchanted enough with the conference that they placed Ohio State at No. 4 despite the Buckeyes’ undefeated run through their schedule.

If the Big Ten is looking for teams to improve the conference's standing across the country, it will need to look to its current members. However, Michigan is unlikely to be impressing poll voters with wins over conference opponents in future seasons.

 

Good or Bad for the Wolverines?

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Ultimately, expansions will have a positive effect on the Michigan football program, but they are nothing for Wolverine fans to get overly excited about.

Adding East Coast teams will expose the conference to new television markets and improve its position in negotiating for lucrative new media deals in the future. This will lead to more money and exposure for the conference’s members.

But that does not mean the quality of the Michigan team or the conference will drastically improve in the coming years.

While the addition of new teams will help the conference cash in on television deals, it will have little impact on the level of play of the football teams in the Big Ten. 

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