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Tradition preserved as Big Ten sets upcoming football opponents

The Big Ten revealed its revamped schedule of conference football opponents for the 2024-28 seasons, incorporating four new additions into schedules while maintaining traditional rivalries.

The conference is adding Southern California, UCLA, Washington and Oregon in 2024, giving the conference 18 teams all playing in one division. The top two teams will meet in the Big Ten title game at the end of the regular season.

The Big Ten is using what it calls the Flex Protect XVIII model, which keeps a combination of protected opponents and rotates in other opponents each year. Each university will play nine conference games and will face each opponent at least twice over the five-year time span.

The guaranteed annual protected matchups are Illinois-Northwestern, Illinois-Purdue, Indiana-Purdue, Iowa-Minnesota, Iowa-Nebraska, Iowa-Wisconsin, Maryland-Rutgers, Michigan-Michigan State, Michigan-Ohio State, Minnesota-Wisconsin, Oregon-Washington and UCLA-USC.

The conference previously made a run at the opponent schedule to account for the addition of USC and UCLA. But when Oregon and Washington left the Pacific-12 for the Big Ten earlier this summer, the conference had to start over.

The conference said annual travel by distance and time zones was a key consideration as was maintaining the “trophy” game traditions of the Big Ten.

“We added two more [teams], but that changes everything. We got to go back to the drawing board and do this rotation again,” Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti said on a conference call. “We’re staying with a lot of the principles that were in place when we did the original announcement back with USC and UCLA being integrated, the core concepts, competitive balance, connecting the whole conference. Trying to be mindful of travel, all those things are still in place here, protecting the traditional rivalries, all of those things are in this process.”

Dates of the 2024 games will be announced at a later date.

–Field Level Media

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