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With Nebraska on board, what shape will the Big Ten take?

We posted basically that same question on CFT’s Twitter account, so we figured we’d make an attempt to flesh something out here for broader public consumption.

Mainly, just how will the Big Ten look when Nebraska becomes a member of the conference as early as 2011?

It seems like a no-brainer that the league will now move to two divisions, with a regular season that will culminate in a championship game. But, just how will the 12 schools be divided and placed into whatever the divisions will be called?

We will take an initial stab at here, fully armed with the knowledge that, a.) we’ll be called idiots regardless of how we split the Big Ten and, b.) there’s a good chance that, if the Pac-10 goes to sixteen teams, the Big Ten may follow suit and this will all be a moot discussion.

DIVISION ANebraskaIowaWisconsinMinnesotaIllinoisPenn State

DIVISION BOhio StateMichiganMichigan StatePurdueNorthwesternIndiana

Just a couple/few things real quick.

One, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin seem like absolute no-brainers to be in the same division, as does Michigan and Michigan State. After that? It’s all up for discussion.

Two, there’s just no way -- we would think -- that the Big Ten would put the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Nittany Lions in the same division. Yes, football is cyclical -- just look at UM at the moment for proof of that -- but those are three traditional powers and would seemingly have to be split up somehow. That might cause some consternation for PSU, however, looking at the “travel” relative to everybody else in the conference, especially when it comes to non-revenue sports.

Three, Ohio State and Michigan have to play every year, and play on the final weekend of the regular season every year. That is not on the table for discussion; there should be no debate. If you want to put OSU or UM in the other division with Nebraska, and bring PSU back in their place? Fine. Hell, just take OSU and put them in NU’s division; as a college football fan, I would love to see OSU-NU and OSU-UM games every year But just guarantee that The Rivalry will remain untouched and unchanged, as in it will be played annually regardless of what divisions the two schools reside in.

Four, some school/schools are going to pissed off regardless of how the conference is aligned. The Big Ten simply must minimize the “damage” and preserve as many annual rivalries as they can. There’s no “perfect” alignment, but there has to be an optimum one out there somewhere.

There you have it. Fire away.