When the Big Ten announced that conference schedules would move from eight games to nine, it added a new rule. In 2015, the conference announced that teams could no longer schedule FCS teams as part of the non-conference schedule. This was because teams could now only schedule 3 out of conference games, and using one of those for an FCS team was seen as a way to weaken ones schedule.
With this new rule, we believed that Purdue’s game against Eastern Kentucky last season would be the last FCS team Purdue would ever host (Purdue won that game 45-24 and is undefeated against all FCS teams, a record that some other B1G schools cannot claim).
There is a catch, of course. When the Big Ten moved to a nine game conference schedule for each team, it forced schedules to be unbalanced. After all, teams would go back and forth between having four and five conference road games every season. Purdue, for example, will have 4 B1G home games and 5 B1G road games on even years, but 5 B1G home games and 4 B1G road games on odd years.
With this irregularity, the conference will now allow teams to schedule FCS teams whenever they only host four conference games at home. This means Purdue could possible schedule an FCS team every even year (assuming B1G scheduling doesn’t change dramatically). I personally don’t think Purdue should add an FCS school just because they can, but we will have to wait and see if athletics opt for one now that the window has reopened.
The soonest Purdue could schedule an FCS team would be in 2020, as the only non-cons scheduled at the moment are Notre Dame and a game at Boston College. Since Purdue is scheduled to play the two Catholic schools at the FBS level, I say they should schedule Dayton, San Diego, or Villanova to finish off Purdue’s Catholic football safari.