Breaking down Big Ten football's best matchups in 2024

Thursday, November 2, 2023

With the additions of Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA, the Big Ten conference revealed its matchupsfor the 2024 to 2028 seasons last month and its full 2024 Big Ten schedule on Thursday.

Those matchups included 12 protected annual games, preserving rivalries and games of historical significance such as Ohio State-Michigan and the matchup of newcomers USC and UCLA.

There is a lot to digest. Our writers analyzed the new Big Ten, breaking down the best games and the toughest and easiest matchups.

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2024 schedule

Most exciting games

Tom VanHaaren: The 2024 schedule has a lot of really exciting matchups, but I think I'm most excited for USC traveling to Ann Arbor to play Michigan. We don't know yet if Caleb Williams will be the quarterback for the Trojans, but with Lincoln Riley as the head coach, we know the offense will be explosive. The Wolverines have put together a balanced team and have a defense that has stifled opponents this season. Putting USC's offense against Michigan's defense would be fun to watch.

Blake Baumgartner: Ohio State's visit to Eugene to tangle with the Ducks is another great matchup. The two schools last met in Columbus back in 2021, with Oregon pulling off the upset of a top-10 Buckeyes team. Dan Lanning has been doing work on the recruiting trail and the race to succeed Bo Nix at quarterback will be fun to watch, as top-25 overall prospect Michael Van Buren (No. 23 overall in 2024) headlines a class that ESPN has ranked fourth. Kyle McCord has another year of eligibility for Ryan Day & Co. and will only be better following his experience in 2023.

Paolo Uggetti: I'm with Tom and Blake, but for the sake of variety, how about Penn State traveling to USC in a rematch of the thrilling 2017 Rose Bowl? Sure, the players and some coaches are different now, but both offenses should be plenty explosive enough to provide a fitting encore. Really, any Big Ten team traveling to Los Angeles for a game against USC will make for an awesome environment not only because of the number of out-of-town fans who will make the trip, but also the transplants who already call the city their home.

Most challenging matchups

VanHaaren: Washington has a pretty tough schedule in 2024 with Iowa, Oregon, Penn State, Michigan, UCLA and USC all on tap. They'll have to travel to Indiana, Iowa, Oregon and Penn State. That Penn State game on the road could be a tough one considering how hard it is to play at Beaver Stadium. The Huskies also will have to travel to Rutgers, which will be a hike across the country. Washington is at home against Michigan, Northwestern, UCLA and USC, but that is a lot to take on in one season considering the team will likely be breaking in a new quarterback after Michael Penix Jr.'s eligibility runs out.

Baumgartner: Michigan has four games on its 2024 schedule that immediately pop off the page -- road dates with Washington and Ohio State to couple with games in Ann Arbor against USC and Oregon. Having to make only one trek out to the West Coast helps logistically. Much has been made about the quality (or lack thereof) of the Wolverines' nonconference slate the past few seasons. We knew that was likely to take care of itself with the addition of the four Pac-12 schools. But to finally see what that looks like on paper hammers home how difficult it will be to win a Big Ten crown, let alone back-to-back titles as the Wolverines have done the past two years.

Uggetti: Nebraska will have to go on the road to both Ohio State and USC in 2024. While the rest of their road games (Indiana, Iowa, Purdue) as well as their home games (Illinois, Rutgers, UCLA, Wisconsin) don't present too tough a task, the two matchups against juggernauts on their home turf are enough to make their schedule next season one of the tougher ones in the conference. And given how they've looked so far this season, one can almost assume those two games will be near-automatic losses for the Cornhuskers.

Most favorable matchups

Uggetti: In terms of big-name teams, I think Ohio State got the easiest draw in Year 1 of the new Big Ten. The Buckeyes travel to Northwestern, Michigan State, Penn State and will have to go to Oregon as their lone West Coast trip. They avoid playing USC, Washington and UCLA. That trip to Autzen will be much anticipated and, aside from perhaps the road trip to Penn State and hosting Michigan in the annual rivalry game, could be Ohio State's toughest task of the season.

VanHaaren: Rutgers has USC, UCLA and Washington, which will be a difficult stretch. But the Scarlet Knights don't have Michigan, Penn State or Ohio State on their schedule. That seems like a good trade-off, especially because the USC game is the only West Coast away game Rutgers will have in 2024. The matchups against Illinois, Minnesota, UCLA, Washington and Wisconsin will all be at home.

Baumgartner: Logistically, Iowa's schedule stands out. Only once do the Hawkeyes have to travel out to the Pacific time zone -- for a game at the Rose Bowl with UCLA. Yes, a trip to Columbus is on the docket to face the Buckeyes, but road games against Michigan State, Minnesota and Maryland seem manageable. Oregon, Michigan and Penn State aren't on the schedule. Washington will get introduced to Kinnick Stadium's legendary pink visitors locker room for the first time. With divisions going the way of the dodo bird, Iowa didn't get a terrible shake in the first year of the 18-team league.

2024 Big Ten schedule

For the full matchups through the 2028 season, click here.

Illinois Fighting Illini

Sept. 21:at Nebraska

Sept. 28: at Penn State

Oct. 12: vs. Purdue

Oct. 19: vs. Michigan

Oct. 26: at Oregon

Nov. 2: vs. Minnesota

Nov. 16: vs. Michigan State

Nov. 23: at Rutgers

Nov. 30: at Northwestern

Indiana Hoosiers

Sept. 14:at UCLA

Sept. 28: vs. Maryland

Oct. 5: at Northwestern

Oct. 19: vs. Nebraska

Oct. 26: vs. Washington

Nov. 2: at Michigan State

Nov. 9: vs. Michigan

Nov. 23: at Ohio State

Nov. 30: vs. Purdue

Iowa Hawkeyes

Sept. 21: at Minnesota

Oct. 5: at Ohio State

Oct. 12: vs. Washington

Oct. 19: at Michigan State

Oct. 26: vs. Northwestern

Nov. 2: vs. Wisconsin

Nov. 9: at UCLA

Nov. 23: at Maryland

Nov. 30: vs. Nebraska

Maryland Terrapins

Sept. 7: vs. Michigan State

Sept. 28: at Indiana

Oct. 12: vs. Northwestern

Oct. 19: vs. USC

Oct. 26: at Minnesota

Nov. 9: at Oregon

Nov. 16: vs. Rutgers

Nov. 23: vs. Iowa

Nov. 30: at Penn State

Michigan Wolverines

Sept. 21: vs. USC

Sept. 28: vs. Minnesota

Oct. 5: at Washington

Oct. 19: at Illinois

Oct. 26:vs. Michigan State

Nov. 2: vs. Oregon

Nov. 9: at Indiana

Nov. 23: vs. Northwestern

Nov. 30: at Ohio State

Michigan State Spartans

Sept. 7: at Maryland

Sept. 28: vs. Ohio State

Oct. 5: at Oregon

Oct. 19: vs. Iowa

Oct. 26: at Michigan

Nov. 2: vs. Indiana

Nov. 16: at Illinois

Nov. 23: vs. Purdue

Nov. 30: vs. Rutgers

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Sept. 21: vs. Iowa

Sept. 28: at Michigan

Oct. 5: vs. USC

Oct. 12: at UCLA

Oct. 26: vs. Maryland

Nov. 2: at Illinois

Nov. 9: at Rutgers

Nov. 23: vs. Penn State

Nov. 30: at Wisconsin

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Sept. 21: vs. Illinois

Sept. 28: at Purdue

Oct. 5: vs. Rutgers

Oct. 19: at Indiana

Oct. 26: at Ohio State

Nov. 2:vs. UCLA

Nov. 16: at USC

Nov. 23: vs. Wisconsin

Nov. 30: at Iowa

Northwestern Wildcats

Sept. 21: at Washington

Oct. 5: vs. Indiana

Oct. 12: at Maryland

Oct. 19: vs. Wisconsin

Oct. 26: at Iowa

Nov. 2: at Purdue

Nov. 16: vs. Ohio State

Nov. 23: at Michigan

Nov. 30: vs. Illinois

Ohio State Buckeyes

Sept. 28: at Michigan State

Oct. 5: vs. Iowa

Oct. 12: at Oregon

Oct. 26: vs. Nebraska

Nov. 2: at Penn State

Nov. 9: vs. Purdue

Nov. 16: at Northwestern

Nov. 23: vs. Indiana

Nov. 30: vs. Michigan

Oregon Ducks

Sept. 28: at UCLA

Oct. 5:vs. Michigan State

Oct. 12:vs. Ohio State

Oct. 19: at Purdue

Oct. 26: vs. Illinois

Nov. 2: at Michigan

Nov. 9: vs. Maryland

Nov. 16: at Wisconsin

Nov. 30: vs. Washington

Penn State Nittany Lions

Sept. 28: vs. Illinois

Oct. 5: vs. UCLA

Oct. 12: at USC

Oct. 26: at Wisconsin

Nov. 2: vs. Ohio State

Nov. 9: vs. Washington

Nov. 16: at Purdue

Nov. 23: at Minnesota

Nov. 30: vs. Maryland

Purdue Boilermakers

Sept. 28: vs. Nebraska

Oct. 5: at Wisconsin

Oct. 12:at Illinois

Oct. 19:vs. Oregon

Nov. 2:vs. Northwestern

Nov. 9:at Oho State

Nov. 16: vs. Penn State

Nov. 23: at Michigan State

Nov. 30: at Indiana

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Sept. 28: vs. Washington

Oct. 5: at Nebraska

Oct. 12: vs. Wisconsin

Oct. 19: vs. UCLA

Oct. 26: at USC

Nov. 9: vs. Minnesota

Nov. 16: at Maryland

Nov. 23: vs. Illinois

Nov. 30: at Michigan State

UCLA Bruins

Sept. 14:vs. Indiana

Sept. 28: vs. Oregon

Oct. 5: at Penn State

Oct. 12:vs. Minnesota

Oct. 19: at Rutgers

Nov. 2: at Nebraska

Nov. 9: vs. Iowa

Nov. 16: at Washington

Nov. 23: USC

USC Trojans

Sept. 21: at Michigan

Sept. 28: vs.Wisconsin

Oct. 5: at Minnesota

Oct. 12:vs. Penn State

Oct. 19: at Maryland

Oct. 26: vs. Rutgers

Nov. 2: at Washington

Nov. 16: vs. Nebraska

Nov. 23: at UCLA

Washington Huskies

Sept. 21: vs. Northwestern

Sept. 28: at Rutgers

Oct. 5: vs. Michigan

Oct. 12: at Iowa

Oct. 26: at Indiana

Nov. 2:vs. USC

Nov. 9: at Penn State

Nov. 16:vs. UCLA

Nov. 30: at Oregon

Wisconsin Badgers

Sept. 28: at USC

Oct. 5: vs. Purdue

Oct. 12: at Rutgers

Oct. 19: at Northwestern

Oct. 26: vs. Penn State

Nov. 2: at Iowa

Nov. 16: vs. Oregon

Nov. 23: at Nebraska

Nov. 30: vs. Minnesota