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2008 Big Ten Team-by-Team Schedule Breakdown
Penn State LB Sean Lee
Penn State LB Sean Lee
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 6, 2008


It's all about what teams you miss in the Big Ten. While some don't have to deal with Ohio State and Michigan, others, like Sean Lee's Penn State, have a brutal run of top conference teams. Check out the analysis and breakdown of each Big Ten team's schedule.

2008 Big Ten Team Schedule 

- 2008 Big Ten Composite Schedule & Top Games

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

1. Penn State
2. Michigan
3. Ohio State
4. Wisconsin
5. Purdue
6. Michigan State
7. Minnesota
8. Illinois
9. Northwestern
10. Indiana
11. Iowa

Illinois
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 10-2
Barring total disaster worst case record: 5-7
Realistic record: 8-4
 
The tone should be set for the season in the St. Louis showdown against Missouri. If the Illini can pull that off, it would prove right away that 2007 wasn't a fluke and will pave the way for a 3-0 start before an off week. Starting the Big Ten season on the road against Penn State and Michigan isn't a plus, but these might not be the same Penn State and Michigan teams of the past. While the schedule is hardly a breeze, the locations certainly work out well with four of the final seven games at home, including a showdown with Ohio State, while one of the away dates is in Detroit against Western Michigan and one is in Evanston to close out against Northwestern. The problem? The other away game is at Wisconsin. The Illini misses Purdue and Michigan State from the Big Ten schedule.

Aug. 30 Missouri (St. Louis)
Sept. 6 Eastern Illinois
Sept. 13 UL Lafayette
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 at Penn State
Oct. 4 at Michigan
Oct. 11 Minnesota
Oct. 18 Indiana
Oct. 25 at Wisconsin
Nov. 1 Iowa
Nov. 8 Western Michigan (Detroit)
Nov. 15 Ohio State
Nov. 22 at Northwestern

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Indiana
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 9-3
Barring total disaster worst case record: 4-8
Realistic record: 6-6

It doesn't get too much better than starting off with five home games and a trip to Minnesota by mid-October, and while the dates with Michigan State and Iowa will be tough, the Hoosiers should be good enough to get at least a split. There are only four road games, all in Big Ten play, going to Illinois after dealing with the Hawkeyes and closing out at Penn State and at Purdue. Beating Wisconsin might be tough, but the showdown with the Badgers comes after getting Northwestern and Central Michigan at home. How much of a break does IU get in the schedule? There's no Michigan or Ohio State.

Aug. 30 Western Kentucky
Sept. 6 Murray State
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 20 Ball State
Sept. 27 Michigan State
Oct. 4 at Minnesota
Oct. 11 Iowa
Oct. 18 at Illinois
Oct. 25 Northwestern
Nov. 1 Central Michigan
Nov. 8 Wisconsin
Nov. 15 at Penn State
Nov. 22 at Purdue

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Iowa
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 10-2
Barring total disaster worst case record: 5-7
Realistic record: 7-5

There are two nice warm-up scrimmages against Maine and Florida International before the always tough rivalry showdown against Iowa State and a nasty road trip to face an improved Pitt. All things considered, the Big Ten road schedule couldn't be too much easier getting a week off before facing Illinois and going away to deal with Michigan State and Indiana in back-to-back October weeks. If the Hawkeyes are good, they should be able to win at least two of three at home against Wisconsin, Penn State and Purdue. With no Ohio State or Michigan, this will be the year to come up with a big rebound.

Aug. 30 Maine
Sept. 6 FIU
Sept. 13 Iowa State
Sept. 20 at Pitt
Sept. 27 Northwestern
Oct. 4 at Michigan State
Oct. 11 at Indiana
Oct. 18 Wisconsin
Oct. 25 OPEN DATE
Nov. 1 at Illinois
Nov. 8 Penn State
Nov. 15 Purdue
Nov. 22 at Minnesota
 
- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Michigan
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 10-2
Barring total disaster worst case record: 6-6
Realistic record: 8-4

While the non-conference schedule might not seem like that big a deal on paper, it's a lot rougher than it appears. If you thought Appalachian State was a nasty home opener, wait until Utah comes to Ann Arbor. No, Miami University isn't going to be a breather with its loaded defense led by a linebacking corps that's as good as any in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State's. Going to Notre Dame isn't going to be a layup this year, and Toledo has a high-octane offense. On the plus side, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State have to come to the Big House, and there's a relatively easy two-game stretch in mid-November going to Minnesota and hosting Northwestern before the Ohio State showdown, but there's a rough patch of three road games in four weeks going to Penn State and Purdue, wrapped around the always-emotional rivalry game with the Spartans, before finishing up in Minneapolis. Missing Iowa and Indiana isn't necessarily a plus.

Aug. 30 Utah
Sept. 6 Miami Univ.
Sept. 13 at Notre Dame
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE 
Sept. 27 Wisconsin
Oct. 4 Illinois
Oct. 11 Toledo
Oct. 18 at Penn State
Oct. 25 Michigan State
Nov. 1 at Purdue
Nov. 8 at Minnesota
Nov. 15 Northwestern
Nov. 22 at Ohio State

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Michigan State
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 9-3
Barring total disaster worst case record: 5-7
Realistic record: 7-5

No one's going to expect the Spartans to win the opener at California, so it's sort of a no-lose situation. An upset could set the tone for a huge first half of the year getting expected home wins over Eastern Michigan and Florida Atlantic before dealing with an improved Notre Dame, who MSU should beat. If you're going to go on the road for two Big Ten road dates in three weeks, there's worse than playing at Indiana and Northwestern. The key to the season is the mid-season three-game stretch against Ohio State, at Michigan and Wisconsin before closing out against Purdue, but those are three home games in a four-game stretch before getting a week off. While MSU will be rested for the regular season finale against Penn State, the Nittany Lions will be coming off a game against Indiana. The Spartans catch a huge break missing Illinois, but it all evens out with Minnesota off the schedule.

Aug. 30 at California
Sept. 6 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 13 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 20 Notre Dame
Sept. 27 at Indiana
Oct. 4 Iowa
Oct. 11 at Northwestern
Oct. 18 Ohio State
Oct. 25 at Michigan
Nov. 1 Wisconsin
Nov. 8 Purdue
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE 
Nov. 22 at Penn State

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Minnesota
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 8-4
Barring total disaster worst case record: 4-8
Realistic record: 6-6

Considering the problems last year against MAC teams and the losses to North Dakota State and Florida Atlantic, Minnesota can't take anything for granted, but starting off with a non-conference schedule against Northern Illinois, at Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic doesn't get too much easier. Payback's a bear with three road games in the first four Big Ten dates going to Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue. The fourth Big Ten road trip is to Wisconsin, and that comes after facing Michigan. Getting Indiana and Northwestern at home should bring at least one conference win, while the Gopher fans have to make sure the regular-season finale against Iowa doesn't turn into a Hawkeye home game. Missing Michigan State and Penn State should help.

Aug. 30 Northern Illinois
Sept. 6 at Bowling Green
Sept. 13 Montana State
Sept. 20 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 27 at Ohio State
Oct. 4 Indiana
Oct. 11 at Illinois
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE 
Oct. 25 at Purdue
Nov. 1 Northwestern
Nov. 8 Michigan
Nov. 15 at Wisconsin
Nov. 22 Iowa

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Northwestern
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 8-4
Barring total disaster worst case record: 4-8
Realistic record: 6-6

The first rule of any schedule: You don't lose to Duke. The second rule of any schedule: You do NOT lose to Duke. The Wildcats blew it at home against the Blue Devils last season, but they'll get another shot. If NU wants to go bowling, it has to win at least three of four, if not all four, against Syracuse, at Duke, Southern Illinois and Ohio before the Big Ten opener at Iowa. Getting at least a split in home games against Michigan State and Purdue, after coming off a week off, is a must with a strange and difficult finishing kick. Going to Indiana and Minnesota for back-to-back road games wouldn't be that big a deal for anyone else, and those might be must wins with Ohio State, at Michigan and Illinois to close things out. Missing Wisconsin and Penn State in Big Ten play is a gigantic break.

Aug. 30 Syracuse
Sept. 6 at Duke
Sept. 13 Southern Illinois
Sept. 20 Ohio
Sept. 27 at Iowa
Oct. 4 OPEN DATE 
Oct. 11 Michigan State
Oct. 18 Purdue
Oct. 25 at Indiana
Nov. 1 at Minnesota
Nov. 8 Ohio State
Nov. 15 at Michigan
Nov. 22 Illinois

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Ohio State
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 12-0
Barring total disaster worst case record: 8-4
Realistic record: 11-1

The entire sports world will focus on the September 13th mega-showdown against USC that'll be certain to have national title implications, but there are other landmines to worry about. Going to Wisconsin won't be easy and dealing with a road trip to Illnois won't be a plus. The Michigan game is in Columbus, but it comes after going on the road to face Northwestern and the Illini. If this is the national title contender it's supposed to be, the home schedule, including the date with the Wolverines and the October battles with Purdue and Penn State, shouldn't be a problem. Outside of the USC game, the non-conference slate is a breeze facing Youngstown State, Ohio and Troy. The Buckeyes miss Indiana and Iowa.

Aug. 30 Youngstown State
Sept. 6 Ohio
Sept. 13 at USC
Sept. 20 Troy
Sept. 27 Minnesota 
Oct. 4 at Wisconsin
Oct. 11 Purdue
Oct. 18 at Michigan State
Oct. 25 Penn State
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at Northwestern
Nov. 15 at Illinois
Nov. 22 Michigan

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Penn State
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 10-2
Barring total disaster worst case record: 5-7
Realistic record: 8-4

There's no reason not to be 4-0 facing Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, at Syracuse and Temple. And then comes the roughest five-game stretch anyone in the Big Ten has to face dealing with Illinois in the Big Ten home opener before going on the road three times in four weeks against Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The home "oasis" in the midst of the road trips? Michigan. At least there's a week off before finishing up at Iowa, for the fourth Big Ten road trip in five games, and at home against Indiana and Michigan State. If the slate didn't seem cruel enough, who does Penn State miss in conference play? Minnesota and Northwestern.

Aug. 30 Coastal Carolina
Sept. 6 Oregon State
Sept. 13 at Syracuse
Sept. 20 Temple
Sept. 27 Illinois
Oct. 4 at Purdue
Oct. 11 at Wisconsin
Oct. 18 Michigan
Oct. 25 at Ohio State
Nov. 1 OPEN DATE 
Nov. 8 at Iowa
Nov. 15 Indiana
Nov. 22 Michigan State

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Purdue
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 9-3
Barring total disaster worst case record: 4-8
Realistic record: 7-5

The bad break is getting the off-week to start the season. With the way the Big Ten likes to wrap things up, t's 12 games in 12 weeks. The worse break is the first half of the slate facing Oregon and high-powered MAC champion Central Michigan before a stretch of three road trips in four games going to Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern wrapped around a home date with Penn State. Things ease up starting with the trip to Evanston and getting Minnesota and Michigan at home before going back on the road to deal with Michigan State and Iowa. Closing with the rivalry game against Indiana at home will help, but missing Illinois and Wisconsin is the mega-break.

Aug. 30 OPEN DATE
Sept. 6 Northern Colorado
Sept. 13 Oregon
Sept. 20 Central Michigan
Sept. 27 at Notre Dame
Oct. 4 Penn State
Oct. 11 at Ohio State
Oct. 18 at Northwestern
Oct. 25 Minnesota
Nov. 1 Michigan
Nov. 8 at Michigan State
Nov. 15 at Iowa
Nov. 22 Indiana

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way


Wisconsin
Realistic best case record with this schedule: 11-1
Barring total disaster worst case record: 7-5
Realistic record: 9-3

As insane as this might sound, considering Michigan might be down and the Badgers get two weeks to prepare for the trip to Ann Arbor (as do the Wolverines) the real early problem could be the September 13th trip to face a fired up and very good Fresno State. It's not like Bucky gets a chance to take a breath after Michigan with make-or-break showdowns against Ohio State and Penn State in Camp Randall. Illinois also has to come to Madison, but that's the one home game in a stretch of three road trips in four weeks. On the plus side, going to Iowa, Michigan State and Indiana isn't that bad. Closing out against Minnesota and Cal Poly (yes, Cal Poly) will help the record. Northwestern and Purdue are off the Big Ten schedule.

Aug. 30 Akron
Sept. 6 Marshall
Sept. 13 at Fresno State
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE 
Sept. 27 at Michigan
Oct. 4 Ohio State
Oct. 11 Penn State
Oct. 18 at Iowa
Oct. 25 Illinois
Nov. 1 at Michigan State
Nov. 8 at Indiana
Nov. 15 Minnesota
Nov. 22 Cal Poly

- Almost certain win
- Likely loss
- Could go either way