Big Ten ‘Strongly Considering’ Removing Nonconference Power 5 Schedule Requirement
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: A Big Ten field marker.
The Big Ten is “strongly considering” removing its requirement for league teams to play a Power 5 nonconference team, starting in 2024, sources told Action Network. Big Ten teams also would be allowed to continue scheduling Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponents, sources said.
In 2024, the Big Ten grows to a 16-team league with the additions of USC and UCLA. Although the league’s scheduling format has not been officially determined, the Big Ten is expected to continue with a nine-game league schedule “unless something crazy happens,” a source said.
If the change is made, Big Ten teams could still schedule games against Power 5 non-conference opponents, but it would no longer be required.
Since 2016, the Big Ten began “requiring” league members to play at least one nonconference Power 5 opponent annually. However, Big Ten schools could ask the league office for exemptions for other programs not in a Power 5 league to count as its requirement.
Besides teams from the other Power 5 leagues – ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC – plus Notre Dame, several non-Power 5 programs counted toward the Power 5 requirement. That includes the three service academy schools — Army, Navy and Air Force — along with BYU, Cincinnati, UConn and others.
Ironically, the removal of the Big Ten’s Power 5 nonconference requirement would occur the first year that the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams.
This season, Michigan is the only Big Ten school that did not schedule a Power 5 nonconference opponent (the second consecutive season UM didn’t schedule a Power 5 nonconference team). Only three programs — Northwestern, Ohio State and Rutgers — scheduled an FCS opponent in 2023.
After Notre Dame plays an FCS opponent this fall, future Big Ten member USC will become the only Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school that has never played an FCS opponent.
Even though the Big Ten is expected to remove its Power 5 nonconference opponent requirement starting in 2024, each Big Ten school already has scheduled a Power 5 nonconference opponent in at least three of the four seasons between 2024-27.
What’s unknown is whether or not those Big Ten schools will keep those future Power 5 nonconference opponents or adjust their future schedules by playing fewer Power 5 teams out of conference.
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