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It’s official: Big Ten announces division alignments

Appearing live on the Big Ten Network, commissioner Jim Delany revealed how the conference’s 12 schools will be aligned in two six-team divisions when Nebraska comes on board in 2011.

And, given the leaks prior to the announcement, it turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic.

As previously reported, the two divisions, which have yet to be named, will look as follows:

• Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern and Minnesota.

• Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois.

In addition to the divisions, Delany also announced protected cross-over rivalry games that are guaranteed to be contested annually:

Illinois-Northwestern Indiana-Michigan StateOhio State-MichiganPenn State-NebraskaPurdue-IowaWisconsin-Minnesota

Delany confirmed that the Ohio State-Michigan game will be played the last weekend of the regular season for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. After that, the issue of scheduling involving the entire league will be revisited.

(For the complete 2011 and 2012 Big Ten schedule, click HERE.)

Between 2011 and 2014, the schedule will consist of eight conference games and be divvied up as follows: Each school will play the other five schools within its division and will also face three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed on an annual basis.

The conference is expected to go to nine league games for the 2015 season, a fact reiterated by OSU athletic director Gene Smith on the Big Ten Network.

Finally, here’s Delany’s official statement released by the conference.

“Over the past several months, Big Ten staff and directors of athletics have met on several occasions to discuss and finalize division alignments,” Delany said. “We focused on competitive equality, traditional rivalries and geography. We considered multiple models and countless permutations in an effort to achieve the most competitively balanced divisions while at the same time respecting our traditions, preserving existing rivalries, and creating opportunities for the establishment and growth of new rivalries. We have listened to the feedback from our institutions, alumni and fans, and while we understand that no final alignments could possibly satisfy all of our constituents, we believe that we have achieved a very exciting result.”