Photo: USA Today Sports
Rutgers will host long time regional rival and new division rival Penn State in the first Big Ten Conference game in program history on September 13, 2014. The home date against Penn State will be the first of a healthy dose of contests against some of college football's legendary programs in 2014 as the Big Ten is handing Rutgers quite the initiation next year. The Big Ten unveiled the entire 2014 Big Ten football schedule on Thursday afternoon, laying it all out for us to digest.
Rutgers was already prepared to go up against Michigan and Ohio State, in addition to Penn State, Michigan State, Indiana and Maryland under the newly restructured divisions in the Big Ten effective in 2014. But the Big Ten is also throwing Nebraska and Wisconsin at Rutgers in year one in the Big Ten. That is quite the stacked schedule for the Scarlet Knights to run through in their first year in the conference.
Ohio State and Michigan figure to be two of the top programs in the East more often than not, and Penn State and Michigan State have potential to be contenders often enough (especially once PSU gets through their sanctions). Nebraska just played in the Big Ten championship game last season and Wisconsin has won three straight conference championships. The good news for Rutgers is they will get a bye week to prepare for a brutal three-game stretch that includes back-to-back road trips to Ohio State and Nebraska (the farthest distance between any two Big Ten members). Then they get a home game but it will be against Wisconsin. Before getting to that bye week Rutgers will host Penn State, as mentioned above, and Michigan in Big Ten play.
The back-end of the schedule looks more favorable for Rutgers, although the final two games come on the road. Rutgers will wrap up their home schedule with Indiana before traveling to Michigan State and Maryland, who looks to be the new annual match-up for Rutgers to close out the season.
As for the other newcomer, Maryland, the 2014 debut does not appear to be quite as tough overall but includes some road trips to some of the largest stadiums in the country. Maryland gets Ohio State at home a week after their Big Ten debut against Indiana on the road. After the Buckeyes the Terps get a bye week to rest up for a home game against Iowa and a road trip to Wisconsin the following week. After playing at Wisconsin the Terps will be back on the road to play at Penn State. Maryland ends the season at home against Michigan State, at Michigan and of course at home against Rutgers. Maryland also has non-conference games set up for 2014 against FCS power James Madison and West Virginia and they play on the road at South Florida and Temple in non-conference action. The dates for James Madison and West Virginia have not been set in stone but are supposed to take place in 2014.
For more on the new Big Ten football schedules, visit The B1G Time.