116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Schedules make a difference. TCU wouldn't have played in the Rose Bowl last year had it played Auburn's schedule. Auburn wouldn't have played in the BCS title game had it played the New York Jets' schedule.
This year, Nebraska is the most-popular pick to win the Big Ten Legends division. OK. But let's look at the Cornhuskers' schedule.
Each Legends (Man, I hate those stupid Big Ten division names) team plays three games against teams from the Leaders division. Nebraska's three are at Wisconsin, at home against Ohio State, and at Penn State. In other words, the three best teams from the other division on paper, with two of them on the road.
Iowa, by comparison, is also at Penn State. But it skips Wisconsin and Ohio State, instead playing at Purdue, and at home against Indiana.
That's at least a one-game advantage for the Hawkeyes. Is it fair? Of course not. But this is what happens when you have divisions and don't play everyone. Down the road, Iowa is going to have a schedule that's more brutal than anyone in its division. For now, though, no.t
I have come up with an arbitrary ranking of the Legends' out-of-division schedules. My point system -- which can easily be questioned -- is thus:
at Ohio State and Wisconsin: 10 points (it's still Columbus, folks)
at Penn State: 9 points
Ohio State and Wisconsin at home: 9 points
Penn State at home: 8 points
at Illinois: 8 points (This may be generous, I grant you)
Illinois at home: 6 points
at Purdue: 6 points (I thought about a bump to 7, just because it's the road and I think Purdue will show improvement in Danny Hope's second year as head coach)
Purdue at home: 5 points
at Indiana: 5 points
Indiana at home: 4 points
Nebraska 28 (at Wisconsin, Ohio State, at Penn State)
Michigan State 23 (at Ohio State, Wisconsin, Indiana)
Michigan 22 (Ohio State, at Illinois, Purdue)
Minnesota 21 (Wisconsin, Illinois, at Purdue)
Northwestern 21 (Penn State, at Illinois, at Indiana)
Iowa 19 (at Penn State, at Purdue, Indiana)
By the way, next year's Big Ten schedule is the same as this year's but with a flip-flop of home and away.