Well well well, we meet again. The Big Ten Conference is now updating the football conference matchups through 2028 (that is unless another round of expansion happens in the next five years). The conference made the schedules, now called the Flex Protect XVIII Plan, with several “primary objectives” in mind, including balanced travel, control and flexibility as it relates to the changing CFP, and balance of historic and traditional matchups. Like the previous attempt at scheduling, there will be protected matchups that will occur every season. They are shown below (poor Penn State):
So, Purdue will keep two annual matchups against Illinois and Indiana. Everything else changes as teams are expected to play all 17 conference foes both home and away at least once in a five-year stretch. Each season between 2024 and 2028 is laid out below. Let’s dive right in.
Non-Cons: Indiana State, Notre Dame, At Oregon State
Whoever thought that next year would be a relief because Purdue didn’t play Wisconsin was sadly mistaken. Purdue will not only have to travel to Madison but also has to take on three teams currently in the top 10 this season in Penn State, Oregon, and Ohio State in Columbus. Throw in a home matchup with Notre Dame and a trip to Oregon State and Purdue truly plays a gauntlet next year.
Non-Cons: Ball State, UConn, At Notre Dame
Purdue’s first conference trip out west will be to Seattle to take on Washington. This will be year 3 of the Walters Era and it should be where rubber meets the road. Games against Ohio State, USC, Michigan and Notre Dame will hopefully feel better if the program ascends like we hope. Purdue will need to move past just being competitive and be able to take a game or two from the big boys.
Non-Cons: Wake Forest, Indiana State, Notre Dame
In my opinion, 2026 is one of the least terrifying schedules released. Purdue plays Wisconsin, Washington, and Notre Dame but all are in Ross Ade. This will also be the first time Purdue gets to travel to California to take on UCLA. Of course, playing at Penn State is a tall order but there’s always gonna be at least one, right?
Non-Cons: At Notre Dame, North Carolina, Miami (OH)
I would say that every season between 2024 and 2028, Purdue plays at least three elite football programs. This should be new territory for the Boilermakers as they usually only get 1-2 (2 this season). In 2027, Purdue will play four and three of them will be on the road. This would be year five under Ryan Walters, so the program might look completely different by then, but this season looks incredibly daunting and I haven’t even mentioned playing at Maryland, in Lincoln, against UCLA, and against North Carolina. Shudder.
Non-Cons: Western Illinois, At Wake Forest, Notre Dame
Ok, so the two best looking schedules are 2026 and 2028. By 2028, Jim Harbaugh should be the head coach of an NFL team and Lincoln Riley will have just led Caleb Williams and the Chicago Bears to back-to-back Super Bowls. Purdue gets ND at home and has road games at Illinois, Indiana, MSU, and Rutgers? Sign me up.
Now, of course these schedules are not set in stone but no matter what, the competition in the Big Ten is going to completely ramp up. Purdue will need to put up or shut up to compete with the stars in the conference. I think and hope Ryan Walters is up to the task.