With the sanctions on Penn State and Ohio State already deemed ineligible for the posteason, the Legends Division is widely seen as the more competitive of the two Big Ten divisions. Here's a breakdown of the teams' schedules from easiest-to-hardest.
1. Minnesota, (3-9 last year): The Gophers may well start the year out competitively while facing the softer portion of the Big Ten, but three of their last four games are against Michigan State, Nebraska, and Michigan. Mix in games at Wisconsin and Iowa and it could be another long year for second year coach Jerry Kill.
2. Iowa, (7-6 last year): The Hawkeyes are one of only two Big Ten teams (Ohio State) to not have consecutive conference home games. Aside from that, they also have trips to Michigan State and Michigan but the rest of their schedule looks fairly manageable.
3. Northwestern, (6-7 last year): From here on out, the rest of the Big Ten schools either beefed up their non-conference schedule or have a brutal road schedule. The Wildcats deserve credit for booking dates with Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Boston College but games in East Lansing and Ann Arbor will test their inexperienced team. Northwestern only returns 12 starters.
4. Nebraska, (9-4 last year): Games against Southern Mississippi (12-2 last year) and UCLA will test the Huskers' mettle early on and in one particularly grueling stretch, Nebraska will play four of five games against Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State.
5. Michigan State, (11-3 last year): The Spartans deserve credit for scheduling a tough non-conference slate that includes hosting Boise State and Notre Dame. The Spartans then travel to Michigan, Wisconsin, and host Nebraska in consecutive weeks towards the end of the season.
6. Michigan, (11-2 last year): The Wolverines scheduled the most intriguing non-conference matchup of the season when they agreed to travel to Dallas and take on defending National Champion Alabama. Michigan will also travel to South Bend and Lincoln, before visiting the Buckeyes, who have no postseason to play for, just a chance at ruining the Wolverines' season.
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