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Big Ten Conference Releases 2015 And 2016 Football Schedules

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This morning the Big Ten Conference released the 2015 and 2016 conference football schedules, thus completing most of our schedule for the next four years. As expected, Northwestern will make a return after a four year absence, and we knew six of the other games thanks to OMHR and our own division. the only mystery was who would be the eighth team. Well, we caught a massive break. Instead of Nebraska, Michigan, or Michigan State we get Minnesota!

Here is the schedule for 2015:

Sept. 5 - at Marshall
Sept. 12 - INDIANA STATE
Sept. 19 - NOTRE DAME
Sept. 26 - BOWLING GREEN
Oct. 3 - OHIO STATE
Oct. 17 - IOWA
Oct. 24 - at Penn State
Oct. 31 - at Northwestern
Nov. 7 - MINNESOTA
Nov. 14 - at Wisconsin
Nov. 21 - ILLINOIS
Nov. 28 - at Indiana

I look at this one and I already see the potential for a pretty good year. Indiana State is a gimme. As a Big Ten program we have to be able to beat the likes of Marshall and Bowling Green. Other than a trip to Wisconsin the final five games are, in most years, about as easy of a slate as you can ask for. We own Ohio State in West Lafayette, and playing OMHR at home is nice. Obviously it is extremely early and we have no idea who will be playing in these games, but I am calling us a stone cold lock to win the Leaders Division if we win at Penn State.

Here is 2016:

Sept. 3 - CINCINNATI
TBA - at Notre Dame
Oct. 1 - at Ohio State
Oct. 8 - NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 15 - at Iowa
Oct. 22 - PENN STATE
Oct. 29 - Open
Nov. 5 - WISCONSIN
Nov. 12 - at Minnesota
Nov. 19 - at Illinois
Nov. 26 - INDIANA

There are two open dates here, but we already know one strong possibility. It looks like Colorado will be coming to Ross-Ade, probably on September 10, 17, or 24. Given that we have the very rare two non-conference road games (a first since going to USC and Notre Dame in 1998) you can bet the other non-conference game will be a 1-AA team or exciting MACtion at Ross-Ade.

Again though, the conference schedule is an absolute gift. The start of the year is brutal, especially with three BCS conference teams in the non-conference and two of them on the road, but anyone would take a finishing kick of Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

Of note on the Cincinnati game: Purdue official site lists this game as being at Cincinnati, but I strongly suspect it is a typo. We're scheduled to start the 2013 season at Cincy, and currently there is no return date at Ross-Ade. I have to think that the 2016 game will be at Ross-Ade instead. UPDATE: I contacted Purdue and they did confirm the 2016 Cincy game is at Ross-Ade.

So what do you all think? I think the biggest thing is that we dodge some major bullets in avoiding Michigan State, Michigan, and Nebraska for two years. That makes 2015 as a year we need to be ready to make a move. We're never going to get an easier conference schedule than that.