The restructuring of the Big Ten—and the college football landscape in general—is as big a story as the actual season starting this weekend.
There is speculation that the Big Ten’s divisional realignment has reached, or is close to, completion.
ESPN cited numerous unnamed sources stating that the two divisions in the new 12-team Big Ten conference would look as such:
- Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Minnesota.
- Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois.
The new structure presents a lot of opportunities for the conference to expand, but it also reveals a scenario that may be alarming to certain college football enthusiasts in Ann Arbor and Columbus: Michigan and Ohio State are in separate divisions.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the two schools won’t play one another year in and year out, but it does mean that certain rivalry games will be “saved” from the axe of the Big Ten commissioner, Jim Delany, and his constituents.
With all of this transition taking place, what exactly does it mean for the Michigan State Spartans?
Well, for one, it maintains the school’s rivalry with Michigan—the most revered rivalry for Michigan State fans because of the in-state bragging rights.
The realignment (if it does work out in this format) is intended to save certain rivalries between programs, such as Iowa-Minnesota and Purdue-Indiana, to name a couple.
Another perk for Michigan State is a fairly easier schedule.
The Spartans would be able to bypass big-time programs like Ohio State and Penn State, especially as the Spartans are set to renew games against the Buckeyes starting next season. The slate would basically be cleaned and redone from scratch.
Arguably the biggest point of emphasis—at least for the Spartans—is the division in which they have been placed.
Forgoing teams like Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin instantly boosts the team’s appeal in terms of garnering a good record and possibly going to a great bowl game. No offense to schools like Minnesota and Northwestern, but those programs are not as elite as Ohio State or Penn State.
For Michigan State to be able to not play the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, while still having big divisional clashes against Michigan and Iowa, would be the best of both worlds. Winning many games would become expected in such a format, but wins should also be a bit easier to come by.
College football as a whole just became that much more interesting.