On September 1st 2010, the Big Ten finally announced how they will split the 12 teams into two divisions. Before they made their announcement, Barry Alveraz announced that they would split Iowa and Wisconsin between the divisions. Throughout the next week, no more information was given out to the public.
Although no official names have been given to the two divisions, the Big Ten Network differentiated the two with "X" and "O", so I shall do the same.
The "X" division consists of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin, while the "O" division consists of Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern. As of right now the divisions are fairly equal, which was the Big Ten's goal, still, you really can't predict who will and won't be a good football program ten years from now.
They have also announced that each team will play the other five from their division. They will also play one protected cross over game and two more that will be random between the other five teams from the opposite division.
The protected cross over games consists of the following match-ups: Ohio State and Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Illinois and Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan State, and Purdue will play Iowa.
Respecting the history of Michigan and assuming they come back, Michigan State definitely got the best deal out of playing Indiana yearly. Iowa also got it very good playing Purdue yearly.
The team that got the worst draw in their protected cross over game is Minnesota. It's an obvious decision, but while they're trying to rebuild their program and become legit in the Big Ten they would much rather have drawn a team such as Illinois or Northwestern.
In regard to who has the easier run to the Big Ten Title Game, it's the top half of the "X" division. Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin have a much better opportunity than the top three teams from the "O" division.
The worst team in the "O" division is Minnesota who historically is about a seven win program, and their second worst program is Northwestern, who is a very dangerous team. Northwestern does a great job at winning games considering their academic constrictions. Among the rest of the division, there is four solid programs waiting to battle it out.
The worst team in the "X" division is Indiana who is historically no better than a six win program. Then we have two more mediocre programs in Illinois and Purdue. Leaving only three teams to fight battle it out for the right to play for the Big Ten Title.
The Big Ten Officials gave no grad welcoming present to Nebraska in their conference schedule. Their first season in the Big Ten they have by far the hardest cross over scheduling. They have to go to Camp Randall to play Wisconsin, then they get Ohio State at home, and finally have to go to Penn State.
They gave Nebraska such a difficult schedule it will almost be impossible for them to win the league in their first season. Not a bad idea by the Big Ten Officials, still, having a new team just roll threw the conference could have brought a lot of attention to the Big Ten.
The winners of all of this include Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State for having a weaker bottom of the division. Michigan State also gets put on the winners list by playing Indiana in their protected crossover game.
And as for the losers, we find Iowa, Nebraska, and Michigan. Due to their more difficult division these teams will need to be on the top of their game every game. Also the divisions make it much more difficult for Michigan to catch up with Ohio State.