2011 Big Ten Leaders Schedule Breakdown
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase
Posted Feb 9, 2011

Which Big Ten teams have the toughest schedules (and the easiest)? Check out the analysis and breakdown for all the teams in the Big Ten Leaders division.

2011 Big Ten Leaders 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 Legends 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. Penn State
2. Wisconsin
3. Indiana
4. Ohio State
5. Purdue
6. Illinois

Non-Conference Games: Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, Western Michigan
Games Against the Legends: Michigan, at Minnesota, Northwestern
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 8-4

Summary: When your road trips are Indiana, Purdue, Penn State and Minnesota, the schedule isn't all that bad. The Illini have no excuse whatsoever to not start out hot with five straight home games and six in the first decent. The one road game before October 22nd is at Indiana, and while that's followed up by a home date with Ohio State and Arizona State will be a nasty early test, 5-2 is a must and 6-1 is possible before going on the road to face Purdue, There are only four road games overall and there's a well-timed November off week before facing Michigan and Wisconsin in back to back weeks. The non-conference schedule, other than the date with the Sun Devils, shouldn't be bad even though Western Michigan will be a sneaky-good MAC team.

Sep. 3 Arkansas State
Sep. 10 South Dakota State
Sep. 17 Arizona State
Sep. 24 Western Michigan
Oct. 1 Northwestern
Oct. 8 at Indiana
Oct. 15 Ohio State
Oct. 22 at Purdue
Oct. 29 at Penn State
Nov. 12 Michigan
Nov. 19 Wisconsin
Nov. 26 at Minnesota


Non-Conference Games: at Ball State, Virginia, South Carolina State, North Texas
Games Against the Legends: at Iowa, at Michigan State, Northwestern
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 3-9
Likely Finish: 6-6

Summary: Kevin Wilson's first season should start out well with Ball State in the opener, and South Carolina State and North Texas should help the record, but the second game of the year against Virginia should be a good indicator to see exactly where the program is at. Two home games against Penn State and Illinois to start out the Big Ten season is offset by a brutal, BRUTAL run of three road games in four weeks going to Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State. Making things worse, after an off-week, the Hoosiers go to Michigan State making it four road games in five before closing out against Purdue. IU gets an awful schedule break facing Iowa and Michigan State on the road from the Legends. Northwestern is the other game against the other division.

Sep. 3 at Ball State
Sep. 10 Virginia
Sep. 17 South Carolina State
Sep. 24 North Texas
Oct. 1 Penn State
Oct. 8 Illinois
Oct. 15 at Wisconsin
Oct. 22 at Iowa
Oct. 29 Northwestern
Nov. 5 at Ohio State
Nov. 19 at Michigan State
Nov. 26 Purdue

Ohio State

Non-Conference Games: Akron, Toledo, at Miami, Colorado
Games Against the Legends: at Michigan, Michigan State, at Nebraska
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 9-3

Summary: All eyes will be on the first five games of the season without Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, and the other naughty Buckeyes who were nailed with a five-game suspension to start the year. Very, very conveniently, the suspensions end just before the Big Ten's showcase game of the year, OSU's trip to Nebraska. To start, getting past Akron and Toledo shouldn't be an issue, but the battle at Miami could be a make-or-break moment to see if the Buckeyes are strong contenders for the national title even with a few top players on the sidelines. Colorado and Michigan State are winnable games at home, but again, the suspensions will be an issue. There will always be the Michigan battle at the end of the season, but the bigger problem from the Legends could be facing Michigan State and the Huskers. The Leaders' game of the year should be OSU vs. Wisconsin, and this year it's in Columbus, as is the date with Penn State.

Sep. 3 Akron
Sep. 10 Toledo
Sep. 17 at Miami
Sep. 24 Colorado
Oct. 1 Michigan State
Oct. 8 at Nebraska
Oct. 15 at Illinois
Oct. 29 Wisconsin
Nov. 5 Indiana
Nov. 12 at Purdue
Nov. 19 Penn State
Nov. 26 at Michigan

Penn State

Non-Conference Games: Indiana State, Alabama, at Temple, Eastern Michigan
Games Against the Legends: Iowa, Nebraska, at Northwestern
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 8-4

Summary: Brutal … BRUTAL. This might be among the most unfair schedules that any big-name team has to face. Fine, so scheduling Indiana State, at Temple, and Eastern Michigan are hardly sweat-inducing, but those are forgivable with Alabama coming to Happy Valley on September 10th. The Nittany Lions couldn't possibly get a worse break in interdivisional play facing Iowa, Nebraska, and going to Northwestern, but the bigger problem comes against the Leaders. After dealing with Illinois in the final game of October, the team gets a week off before a nasty finishing kick facing the Huskers before going on the road to deal with Ohio State and Wisconsin. On the plus side, in the middle of the season, PSU gets four home games in five, but it'll be asking too much to be better than 1-2 over the final three games.

Sep. 3 Indiana State
Sep. 10 Alabama
Sep. 17 at Temple
Sep. 24 Eastern Michigan
Oct. 1 at Indiana
Oct. 8 Iowa
Oct. 15 Purdue
Oct. 22 at Northwestern
Oct. 29 Illinois
Nov. 12 Nebraska
Nov. 19 at Ohio State
Nov. 26 at Wisconsin


Non-Conference Games: Middle Tennessee, at Rice, SE Missouri State, Notre Dame
Games Against the Legends: Iowa, at Michigan, Minnesota 
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 6-6

Summary: It's not that bad. Getting Minnesota from the Legends at home is a nice break, and while facing Iowa in interdivision play is rough, it's not that bad a deal to get Michigan and miss Nebraska and Michigan State. September is a joke going against Middle Tennessee, at Rice, and SE Missouri State before getting a week off, and then Notre Dame comes to West Lafayette. Win that, and 5-0 is a possibility with the Gophers coming into town the week after. The second half isn't fun with three road games in four weeks, including dates at Penn State and Wisconsin, before hosting Ohio State and Iowa. Winning at Indiana to close out the regular season could be a must for bowl eligibility.

Sep. 3 Middle Tennessee
Sep. 10 at Rice
Sep. 17 SE Missouri State
Oct. 1 Notre Dame
Oct. 8 Minnesota
Oct. 15 at Penn State
Oct. 22 Illinois
Oct. 29 at Michigan
Nov. 5 at Wisconsin
Nov. 12 Ohio State
Nov. 19 Iowa
Nov. 26 at Indiana


Non-Conference Games: UNLV, Oregon State, Northern Illinois, South Dakota
Games Against the Legends: at Michigan State, at Minnesota, Nebraska
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 9-3

Summary: The Badgers don't get a true road game until late October with the lone early date away from Camp Randall a neutral site game against Northern Illinois in Chicago's Soldier Field, but there aren't many breaks in conference play. For the second year in a row, UW has to go to East Lansing to face Michigan State, and starting out Big Ten play against Nebraska isn't a plus. Fortunately, there's the yearly battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe against Minnesota to balance things out. The non-conference schedule isn't bad considering the toughest games are against Oregon State and NIU, but division play will be rough with a trip to Ohio State. The second half of the season gets tough with four road games in five weeks with a date with Purdue as the oasis in the middle of road trips to MSU and OSU to start and trips to Minnesota and Illinois to follow. Facing Penn State to close out the regular season will matter in Leaders play.

Sep. 3 UNLV
Sep. 10 Oregon State
Sep. 17 Northern Illinois (in Chicago)
Sep. 24 South Dakota
Oct. 1 Nebraska
Oct. 15 Indiana
Oct. 22 at Michigan State
Oct. 29 at Ohio State
Nov. 5 Purdue
Nov. 12 at Minnesota
Nov. 19 at Illinois
Nov. 26 Penn State