LINCOLN — One of the Big Ten's two newcomers landed on Nebraska's revamped 2014 conference schedule, but Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State did not, making for a Big Ten slate that's more than manageable but lacking in star power.
The Big Ten on Thursday released the new eight-game schedule for all 14 teams — the 12 current teams, plus Rutgers and Maryland, which join next year. The schedule includes six divisional games — Nebraska is in the West Division — and two cross-divisional contests. The 2015 schedule will feature the same matchups in opposite locations.
From the East Division, NU drew a road game at Michigan State and a home contest versus Rutgers. It'll be the Scarlet Knights' first game in Lincoln. West Division teams Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota visit Memorial Stadium — the Boilermakers for the first time and the Illini for the second year in a row — while the Huskers travel to West Division foes Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa.
The schedule includes two bye weeks, before games at Northwestern and Wisconsin.
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“With the addition of two new programs to the Big Ten Conference and with a new divisional alignment, we embark on a new era of Nebraska football,” Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said. “Accommodating the changes for the 2014 schedule was challenging for the conference and for the member schools.”
Eichorst noted that NU will have seven home games and first-time visitors in Purdue and Rutgers.
NU coach Bo Pelini was out of town on Thursday, according to a Nebraska spokesman, and not immediately available for comment.
The absence of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State — which have combined for four national titles and half of the Big Ten's Rose Bowl appearances in the past 30 years — will be a change from NU's first two years in the league, when all three appeared on the slate. Michigan, a Legends Division mate for one more year, and Penn State, the Leaders Division crossover rival for one more year, remain on the schedule for 2013.
Of the eight Big Ten teams on Nebraska's 2014 schedule, seven played in the Big Ten in 2012 and only one, Northwestern, had a winning record in the conference. The combined league record of those seven teams was 19-37.
Instead, Rutgers and Maryland appeared to get the same rigorous schedule treatment Nebraska received upon its arrival in 2011. The Scarlet Knights drew NU and Wisconsin out of the West, while Maryland got Iowa and Wisconsin. By contrast, Rutgers will face seven teams that had a 36-20 combined league record in 2012.
The Badgers and Hawkeyes also avoided Michigan and Ohio State. Minnesota drew both the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
Beginning in 2016, each school will play three teams from the other division as part of its nine-game schedule. The cross-division games will include one protected matchup on an annual basis between Indiana and Purdue.
In addition to the 2014 Big Ten schedule, Nebraska will play nonconference home games against Florida Atlantic (Aug. 30), McNeese State (Sept. 6) and Miami, Fla. (Sept. 20). In nonconference play, Nebraska will travel to Fresno State on Sept. 13. NU will have seven home games in 2014, a stated goal for most major college football programs.
Other schedule notes:
>> Nebraska's only other matchup with Rutgers came in 1920, when NU posted a 28-0 victory at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
>> Purdue will make its first trip to Lincoln in 2014. The teams have met just once (1958, West Lafayette) prior to this season's game at Purdue.
>> Nebraska will open Big Ten play each of the next two years against Illinois. In addition to the Big Ten home opener in 2014, NU will open conference play against the Fighting Illini this fall, with the matchup on Oct. 5 in Lincoln.
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