The Big Ten is expanding, and the implications of the conferencewill have a ripple effect on future scheduling. In June, the , which included new members USC and UCLA. Now, with the Ducks and Huskies departing the Pac-12 after this season, the schedule makers will be forced to rework what they thought was a finalized schedule.
No other conference in major college football will require certain members to make true cross-country road trips. With four Pac-12 schools joining the fold next summer, it's likely every school will have to make at least one trip out West in 2024. In the original schedule, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue all avoided a trip to either USC or UCLA that season.
All six of those schools would've had to travel less than 5,000 miles round trip for conference games. For context, USC was scheduled to travel over 16,000 miles roundtrip in 2024 because of road games against Maryland, Penn State and Purdue. UCLA had conference road games scheduled against Rutgers, Michigan and Indiana, plus nonconference road games against Hawaii and LSU.
This type of travel is unusual within other Power Five conferences, even with expansion. BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF debut in the Big 12 this fall. Provo, Utah, to Orlando, Florida, now becomes the furthest distance traveled between two Big 12 members -- at least for now until we see . Still, it's about 1,100 miles less roundtrip than what USC and UCLA will have to endure during conference play.
The Big Ten in the original schedule introduced the new "Flex Protect Plus" model, which will see a new team get a favorable travel schedule every season. The new format will give most schools to up to three protected annual rivalries (Penn State is the only team with zero protected rivalries) while keeping a nine-game schedule featuring a rotation of conference opponents on a two-year basis. In doing so, each Big Ten team will face every other conference member twice -- one home and one away -- over a four-year period.
The distance (one-way in miles) between the Pac-12 schools joining the Big Ten and the rest of the teams in their new conference.
|Rutgers 2,423||Rutgers 2,425||Rutgers 2,460||Maryland 2,326|
|Maryland 2,339||Maryland 2,298||Maryland 2,387||Penn State 2,220|
|Penn State 2,257||Penn State 2,243||Penn State 2,286||Ohio State 1,999|
|Ohio State 1,994||Indiana 2,178||Ohio State 2,049||Michigan 1,901|
|Michigan 1,943||Ohio State 1,972||Michigan 1,966||Indiana 1,870|
|Michigan State 1,933||Michigan 1,946||Purdue 1,930||Michigan State 1,853|
|Purdue 1,793||MSU 1,912||Michigan State 1,922||Purdue 1,809|
|Indiana 1,784||Purdue 1,768||Indiana 1,901||Illinois 1,742|
|Illinois 1,760||Northwestern 1,741||Illinois 1,748||Rutgers 1,702|
|Wisconsin 1,691||Illinois 1,738||Northwestern 1,743||Northwestern 1,693|
|Northwestern 1,624||Wisconsin 1,671||Wisconsin 1,676||Wisconsin 1,616|
|Minnesota 1,544||Iowa 1,544||Iowa 1,596||Iowa 1,551|
|Iowa 1,541||Minnesota 1,525||Minnesota 1,463||Minnesota 1,391|
|Nebraska 1,308||Nebraska 1,287||Nebraska 1,357||Nebraska 1,344|
|Washington 959||Washington 965||USC 738||USC 965|
|Oregon 729||Oregon 738||UCLA 729||UCLA 959|
|USC 17||UCLA 17||Washington 252||Oregon 252|