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2014 Big Ten West Schedule Breakdown

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 13, 2014


Breakdowns and analysis of each Big Ten team's schedule


2014 Big Ten Schedules

West

East Indiana | Maryland | Michigan | Michigan State | Ohio State | Penn State | Rutgers
West Illinois | Iowa | Minnesota | Nebraska | Northwestern | Purdue | Wisconsin

Big Ten Composite Schedules   2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Big Ten Team-By-Team Breakdowns  2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
 
- 2014 Big Ten East Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2014 Big Ten West Division Breakdown & Analysis
- 2014 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Week Rankings  


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Toughest Schedules
Based on home games as well as who the teams play when. From toughest to easiest ...

EAST
1. Rutgers
2. Indiana
3. Maryland
4. Michigan
5. Ohio State
6. Penn State
7. Michigan State

WEST
1. Wisconsin
2. Purdue
3. Northwestern
4. Nebraska
5. Minnesota
6. Illinois
7. Iowa

Illinois

Non-Conference Games: Texas State, at Washington, WKU, Youngstown State
Games Against The East: at Ohio State, Penn State
Realistic Best Case Record: 7-5
Worst Case Record: 3-9
Likely Finish: 4-8

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Youngstown State, WKU, Texas State, Purdue

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Washington, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Ohio State, Penn State, at Northwestern

Summary: The Illini can’t afford to blow any of the easy non-conference layups. Youngstown State, WKU and Texas State are all winnable, but the date in Seattle against Chris Petersen’s Washington Huskies isn’t. Being 3-1 going into conference play is a must.

Starting out the Big Ten with a trip to Nebraska isn’t good, but the follow-up against Purdue can’t be a misfire – it might be the only real chance for a win the rest of the way with a trip to Wisconsin up next. There’s a week off before hosting Minnesota, but a road game at Ohio State follows before getting another week off. The team doesn’t have to leave Illinois after November 1st, closing out with Iowa and Penn State at home and Northwestern in Evanston.

2014 Schedule
8/30 Youngstown State
9/6 WKU
9/13 at Washington
9/20 Texas State
9/27 at Nebraska
10/4 Purdue
10/11 at Wisconsin
10/18 OPEN DATE
10/ Minnesota
11/1 at Ohio State
11/8 OPEN DATE
11/15 Iowa
11/22 Penn State
11/29 at Northwestern

Iowa

Non-Conference Games: Ball State, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, at Pitt
Games Against The East: Indiana, at Maryland
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 8-4

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State, at Pitt, at Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, at Illinois

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Maryland, at Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska

Summary: There’s no real excuse not to have a great season. The non-conference schedule is manageable with the two tough games coming at Pitt and in the always-rough rivalry date against Iowa State, but Northern Iowa and Ball State – as much as they might be able to battle – need to be easy wins. Starting out the Big Ten campaign at Purdue couldn’t be much easier going into an off-week.

Playing Indiana and Maryland from the East is about as nice as it gets, especially with a week off to follow and Northwestern, at Minnesota and at Illinois coming up next. It won’t happen, but with this schedule, 10-0 isn’t a crazy thought before hosting Wisconsin for the second year in a row and closing out against Nebraska.

2014 Schedule
8/30 Northern Iowa
9/6 Ball State
9/13 Iowa State
9/20 at Pitt
9/27 at Purdue
10/4 OPEN DATE
10/11 Indiana
10/18 at Maryland
10/25 OPEN DATE
11/1 Northwestern
11/8 at Minnesota
11/15 at Illinois
11/22 Wisconsin
11/29 Nebraska

Minnesota

Non-Conference Games: Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose State, at TCU
Games Against The East: at Michigan, Ohio State
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 7-5

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, San Jose State, Northwestern, Purdue, at Illinois, Iowa

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at TCU, at Michigan, Ohio State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin

Summary: The Gophers have to take advantage of all the home non-conference games, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get by TCU on the road, to have any shot at a bowl game. Middle Tennessee and San Jose State are decent, and Eastern Illinois might be a bit of a fight in the opener, but starting out 3-1 before going to Michigan to start the Big Ten season is a must to have a realistic shot at a bowl game.

It’s a bad, bad scheduling break to play both Michigan and Ohio State from the East, but it helps that four of the next five games after the date in Ann Arbor are at home, with winnable games against Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa a part of the mix along with a road game at Illinois. And then comes the nightmare of a finish with Ohio State, at Nebraska and at Wisconsin – the Gophers had better have six wins banked before November.

2014 Schedule
8/28 Eastern Illinois
9/6 Middle Tennessee
9/13 at TCU
9/20 San Jose State
9/27 at Michigan
10/4 OPEN DATE
10/11 Northwestern
10/18 Purdue
10/25 at Illinois
11/1 OPEN DATE
11/8 Iowa
11/15 Ohio State
11/22 at Nebraska
11/29 at Wisconsin

Nebraska

Non-Conference Games: Florida Atlantic, at Fresno State, McNeese State, Miami
Games Against The East: at Michigan State, Rutgers
Realistic Best Case Record: 10-2
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 9-3

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, at Fresno State, Miami, Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, Minnesota, at Iowa

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Michigan State, at Northwestern, at Wisconsin

Summary: The Huskers might have a dangerous-looking game at Fresno State, but this isn’t the same Fresno State team of last year. After opening up with tune-ups against Florida Atlantic and McNeese State, Nebraska has to rebound from the trip to Fresno and be ready for a major showdown with Miami that should be a big game in the national spotlight. Win that, and it’s almost certainly 5-0 after opening up the Big Ten season with Illinois. And then comes the fun.

The schedule isn’t that bad overall, but going to Michigan State as the tail end of a six-game start to the season stinks. Getting the week off before going to Northwestern will help, and then home games against Rutgers and Purdue should boost the record before getting another week off to prepare for the West showdown at Wisconsin. Closing out with Minnesota and a trip to Iowa isn’t that bad.

2014 Schedule
8/30 Florida Atlantic
9/6 McNeese State
9/13 at Fresno State
9/20 Miami
9/27 Illinois
10/4 at Michigan State
10/11 OPEN DATE
10/18 at Northwestern
10/25 Rutgers
11/1 Purdue
11/8 OPEN DATE
11/15 at Wisconsin
11/22 Minnesota
11/29 at Iowa

Northwestern

Non-Conference Games: California, Northern Illinois, at Notre Dame, Western Illinois
Games Against The East: Michigan, at Penn State
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 7-5

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: California, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, at Penn State, Nebraska, at Purdue, Illinois

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Wisconsin, Minnesota, at Iowa, Michigan, at Notre Dame

Summary: It’s a sneaky-tough non-conference schedule to start, but the big boy is in late November with the first game against Notre Dame since the mid-1990s. The Wildcats have to come out hot and need to be ready for shootouts against Cal and its passing game and NIU and its revamped ground attack before getting an unnecessary week off. Unfortunately, the time off comes before Western Illinois.

NU couldn’t ask for much more in West play with big dogs Wisconsin and Nebraska coming to Ryan Field, and while playing Michigan from the East stinks, at least it’s in Evanston. However, that means the tough home games have to be wins and there can’t be mistakes on the road in tough dates at Minnesota and Iowa. The run of three road games in four weeks in November will make-or-break the team and the season.

2014 Schedule
8/30 California
9/6 Northern Illinois
9/13 OPEN DATE
9/20 Western Illinois
9/27 at Penn State
10/4 Wisconsin
10/11 at Minnesota
10/18 Nebraska
10/25 OPEN DATE
11/1 at Iowa
11/8 Michigan
11/15 at Notre Dame
11/22 at Purdue
11/29 Illinois

Purdue

Non-Conference Games: Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Southern Illinois, Western Michigan
Games Against The East: at Indiana, Michigan State
Realistic Best Case Record: 6-6
Worst Case Record: 2-10
Likely Finish: 3-9

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Notre Dame, Iowa, at Illinois, Michigan State, at Minnesota, at Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, at Indiana

Summary: Will the team be any better? It has to take advantage of the MAC games against Western Michigan and Central Michigan to open, and it can’t slip up against Southern Illinois after going to Notre Dame on Saturday night September 13th. But where are the Big Ten wins going to come from?

The winnable conference games on the schedule – Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana – are all on the road, and while some of the toughest games are at home, it’s hardly a given that games in West Lafayette will help against Michigan State and Wisconsin. Even though there’s a week off in the mix, a mid-season stretch of three road games in four – going to Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska, and hosting Michigan State, will be tough. There’s another week off to rest up before closing out with Northwestern and Indiana.

2014 Schedule
8/30 Western Michigan
9/6 Central Michigan
9/13 at Notre Dame
9/20 Southern Illinois
9/27 Iowa
10/4 at Illinois
10/11 Michigan State
10/18 at Minnesota
10/25 OPEN DATE
11/1 at Nebraska
11/8 Wisconsin
11/15 OPEN DATE
11/22 Northwestern
11/29 at Indiana

Wisconsin

Non-Conference Games: Bowling Green, LSU (at Houston), South Florida, Western Illinois
Games Against The East: Maryland, at Rutgers
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 8-4
Likely Finish: 11-1

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Western Illinois, Bowling Green, South Florida, at Northwestern, Illinois, Maryland, at Rutgers, at Purdue, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: LSU (in Houston)

Summary: The Badgers open up with a knockdown, drag out slugfest with a physical LSU team in Houston. However, if they can find a way to win that, good luck – the schedule is among the easiest in the Big Ten, starting with non-conference games at home against Western Illinois, Bowling Green and South Florida. None of those three will be true cupcakes, but Wisconsin doesn’t lose games like those at home.

There’s no Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State to face from the East – Bucky gets the newcomers, Maryland and Rutgers. The Big Ten road games - Northwestern, Rutgers, Purdue and Iowa – that’s not bad. The showdown against Nebraska is in Camp Randall, and Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland are manageable home dates. However, there’s a run of three road games in four weeks to start out November.

2014 Schedule
8/30 LSU (in Houston)
9/6 Western Illinois
9/13 OPEN DATE
9/20 Bowling Green
9/27 South Florida
10/4 at Northwestern
10/11 Illinois
10/18 OPEN DATE
10/25 Maryland
11/1 at Rutgers
11/8 at Purdue
11/15 Nebraska
11/22 at Iowa
11/29 Minnesota