2011 Big Ten Legends Schedule Breakdown
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead
Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead
Posted Feb 9, 2011

Yeah, now the world is stuck with the Leaders and Legends for division names, and there's a gimmicky title game to decide a champion, but with the addition of Nebraska and with every big matchup you could ask for, the 2011 Big Ten season should be a blast. Which Big Ten teams have the toughest schedules (and the easiest)? Check out the analysis and breakdown for each team's slate.

2011 Big Ten Legends Schedule

- Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Michigan | Michigan State | Minnesota
- Northwestern | Ohio State | Penn State | Purdue | Wisconsin

Big Ten Composite Schedules  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Big Ten Team-By-Team Breakdowns 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

- 2011 Big Ten Leaders Division Breakdown & Analysis 
- 2011 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings
- 2011 Big Ten Schedule Analysis

Toughest Schedules
Based on home games as well as who the teams play. when.

1. Nebraska 
2. Michigan State
3. Michigan
4. Iowa
5. Minnesota
6. Northwestern

Non-Conference Games: Tennessee Tech, at Iowa State, Pitt, ULM
Games Against the Leaders: Indiana, at Penn State, at Purdue
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 8-4

Summary: Considering all the issues the Hawkeye program is having off the field, the home game against Pitt is hardly a given win and the rivalry date against Iowa State is always a hard fight even when everything is going perfectly. Iowa only has to leave the state twice until late November, and one of those away games, Minnesota, is like a home game with the way the fans travel. On the plus side, there couldn't be a bigger break than getting Indiana and Purdue from the Leaders and missing Ohio State and Wisconsin, but there is a trip to Penn State. The season plays out well with a nice run of four home games in five weeks in the middle of the year before closing out against Purdue and Nebraska. That big matzo ball at the end against the Huskers could be for the Legends title.

Sep. 3 Tennessee Tech
Sep. 10 at Iowa State
Sep. 17 Pitt
Sep. 24 ULM
Oct. 8 at Penn State
Oct. 15 Northwestern
Oct. 22 Indiana
Oct. 29 at Minnesota
Nov. 5 Michigan
Nov. 12 Michigan State
Nov. 19 at Purdue
Nov. 26 at Nebraska


Non-Conference Games: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State
Games Against the Leaders: at Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 7-5

Summary: The Brady Hoke era won't require much early traveling with the October 8th game at Northwestern the lone date outside the Michigan borders until November. The non-conference schedule is quirky-interesting starting out against Alex Carder and a Western Michigan team with just enough juice to make it a firefight. Notre Dame is going to be a battle that could get Hoke's tenure off to a rousing start, and after the Eastern Michigan layup there's the ironic game against San Diego State, Hoke's old team, to close out the non-conference slate. The Wolverines have to beat Minnesota in the Big Ten opener with road dates at Northwestern and Michigan State to follow, and the bye week doesn't help much with a relatively easy game against Purdue to follow. November could be a big, big problem starting out with road trips to Iowa and Illinois before closing out with Nebraska and Ohio State at home.

Sep. 3 Western Michigan
Sep. 10 Notre Dame
Sep. 17 Eastern Michigan
Sep. 24 San Diego State
Oct. 1 Minnesota
Oct. 8 at Northwestern
Oct. 15 at Michigan State
Oct. 29 Purdue
Nov. 5 at Iowa
Nov. 12 at Illinois
Nov. 19 Nebraska
Nov. 26 Ohio State

Michigan State

Non-Conference Games: Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic, at Notre Dame, Central Michigan
Games Against the Leaders: Indiana, at Ohio State, Wisconsin
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 8-4

Summary: It's one of the rare Big Ten schedules that gets easier late. With Youngstown State and Florida Atlantic to start, the Spartans get two games of tune-up time before going to Notre Dame, and the Central Michigan game should work some of the final kinks out before getting the killer out of the way going to Ohio State to start the Big Ten season (in a game everyone wanted to see last year). Going to Columbus is the worst interdivisional break possible, and facing Wisconsin, even at home, isn't much better. On the plus side, the other Leaders date is against Indiana, but in Legends play, the Spartans have to go to Iowa and Nebraska … thanks for playing. The trip to Iowa City is in November, but that's in the midst of a relatively easy run with Minnesota and Indiana at home and closing out at Northwestern.

Sep. 3 Youngstown State
Sep. 10 Florida Atlantic
Sep. 17 at Notre Dame
Sep. 24 Central Michigan
Oct. 1 at Ohio State
Oct. 15 Michigan
Oct. 22 Wisconsin
Oct. 29 at Nebraska
Nov. 5 Minnesota
Nov. 12 at Iowa
Nov. 19 Indiana
Nov. 26 at Northwestern


Non-Conference Games: at USC, New Mexico State, Miami University, North Dakota State
Games Against the Leaders: Illinois, at Purdue, Wisconsin
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 2-10
Likely Finish: 5-7

Summary: Welcome to Minnesota, Jerry Kill. Enjoy your opening game at USC. For anyone else, playing New Mexico State, Miami University, and North Dakota State at home means a 3-1 start before starting Big Ten play, but there aren't any givens with the Gophers. Can Kill get revenge over the RedHawk team that beat his NIU squad in the MAC Championship? Can Minnesota beat a team from North Dakota? Those are must wins considering the first two games in the Big Ten are at Michigan and Purdue. Fortunately, there's an off week to prepare for a nasty stretch of top teams getting Nebraska and Iowa at home before going to Michigan State and hosting Wisconsin. Fortunately, there aren't any long stretches of road games, but to have any hope of going to a bowl, the Gophers have to take advantage of their home games to come up with a few big upsets.

Sep. 3 at USC
Sep. 10 New Mexico State
Sep. 17 Miami University
Sep. 24 North Dakota State
Oct. 1 at Michigan
Oct. 8 at Purdue
Oct. 22 Nebraska
Oct. 29 Iowa
Nov. 5 at Michigan State
Nov. 12 Wisconsin
Nov. 19 at Northwestern
Nov. 26 Illinois


Non-Conference Games: UT Chattanooga, Fresno State, Washington, at Wyoming
Games Against the Leaders: Ohio State, at Penn State, at Wisconsin
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 9-3

Summary: Welcome to the Big Ten, Nebraska. The Huskers are given a big flaming bag of unfair in their first year in their new league having to face the three best teams from the other division, going to Wisconsin and hosting Ohio State in the first two league games. If that wasn't enough, they have to go to Penn State. In division play, they have to go to Michigan, but they catch a big break getting Michigan State and Iowa at home meaning any problems in interdivision play could be offset by running the Legends table. Considering Washington has to come to Lincoln against what should be an extremely motivated Big Red (after what happened in the Holiday Bowl), the non-conference schedule isn't that bad with Fresno State the only other game to prepare for. The off-week comes before Minnesota when it would've been a much, much bigger break to get it in between the Wisconsin and Ohio State showdowns.

Sep. 3 UT Chattanooga
Sep. 10 Fresno State
Sep. 17 Washington
Sep. 24 at Wyoming
Oct. 1 at Wisconsin
Oct. 8 Ohio State
Oct. 22 at Minnesota
Oct. 29 Michigan State
Nov. 5 Northwestern
Nov. 12 at Penn State
Nov. 19 at Michigan
Nov. 26 Iowa


Non-Conference Games: at Boston College, Eastern Illinois, at Army, Rice
Games Against the Leaders: at Illinois, Indiana, Penn State
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 7-5

Summary: The non-conference schedule will be better than it appears on paper. Starting out at Boston College could set the tone for the season with a win, but that's asking a lot against what should be a solid Eagle team. Going to Army to face a veteran team with a quirky offense isn't fun, and while Rice is hardly anything special, the offense should be full of fireworks and the timing is awful coming after the Nebraska game and before Minnesota. The Wildcats couldn't catch more of a break in interdivision play missing Ohio State and Wisconsin and getting Indiana. If they can get by the middle of the season, with three road games in four weeks including dates at Iowa and Nebraska, things open up late with Rice, Minnesota, and Michigan State all in Evanston.

Sep. 3 at Boston College
Sep. 10 Eastern Illinois
Sep. 17 at Army
Oct. 1 at Illinois
Oct. 8 Michigan
Oct. 15 at Iowa
Oct. 22 Penn State
Oct. 29 at Indiana
Nov. 5 at Nebraska
Nov. 12 Rice
Nov. 19 Minnesota
Nov. 26 Michigan State