Big Ten announces new scheduling format for when UCLA and USC join in 2024

The conference will no longer have divisions after it expands to 16 teams

UCLA’s first season in the Big Ten will include games against both Michigan and Ohio State.

The Big Ten revealed its schedule format for 2024 and 2025 on Thursday as it adjusts its scheduling model to accommodate the addition of UCLA and USC from the Pac-12. The conference is ditching its divisions after the 2023 season, and team schedules will rotate opponents throughout the conference, with the exception of certain annual rivalry games.

The Bruins will play Ohio State at home and Michigan on the road in 2024, and USC will play Michigan at home. The Trojans also draw Penn State, while UCLA doesn’t have the Nittany Lions on its schedule.

A game against Maryland will be the longest road trip for the Trojans, while UCLA’s longest journey will be to Rutgers. The shortest road trip for USC (besides its matchup across town at UCLA) is a game against Purdue, while UCLA’s shortest commute is to Iowa.

USC will play four home games and five away games in 2024, while USC has five home games and four away games. Those totals reverse in 2025, as USC has Ohio State on the road and UCLA doesn’t have either of the two Big Ten teams that made the College Football Playoff after the 2022 season.

The 2024 slate of opponents for each Big Ten team.
The 2024 slate of opponents for each Big Ten team.
The 2025 slate of opponents for each Big Ten team.
The 2025 slate of opponents for each Big Ten team.

Every team has at least one annual rival except Penn State

Under the current Big Ten format, each team plays its six division opponents and a team from the other division on an annual basis, and the remaining two games rotate among the other six non-division opponents.

With divisions going away after 2023, the Big Ten moved to protect certain rivalry games for the foreseeable future, such as Ohio State vs. Michigan and UCLA vs. USC. And some schools have more rivals than others.

Iowa, for example, has three rivalry games protected on its schedule starting in 2024. The Hawkeyes will play Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska every year until the Big Ten decides to change the schedule format again. Penn State, meanwhile, doesn’t have a protected rival.

Five teams have two protected rivalry games every year, and nine teams have one. Below is the list of games that will be played every year.

  • Illinois vs. Northwestern

  • Illinois vs. Purdue

  • Indiana vs. Purdue

  • Iowa vs. Minnesota

  • Iowa vs. Nebraska

  • Iowa vs. Wisconsin

  • Maryland vs. Rutgers

  • Michigan vs. Michigan State

  • Michigan vs. Ohio State

  • Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

  • UCLA vs. USC

The Big Ten made clear in its release that the new format is set for just 2024 and 2025, in case it needs to be tweaked. It listed the below factors as the main reasons behind the format.

  • Maintaining control and flexibility as the college football postseason format evolves, with the goal to create access for programs into an expanded College Football Playoff.

  • Balance of annual travel by distance, regions of the conference and time zones.

  • Balance of historic competitiveness and recent competitive trends, including home/away balance of traditionally competitive schools.

  • Balance and maximization of television inventory each season.

Additionally, the conference said each team will have three opponents it’s guaranteed to play in back-to-back seasons. Because Iowa has three rivalry games on its schedule, it won’t play any of the other 12 teams in the conference in back-to-back seasons.

The three teams each Big Ten team will play in 2024 and 2025.
The three teams each Big Ten team will play in 2024 and 2025.

Every other team will see its non-rivals rotate through its group of three every two seasons. That means Penn State will have home-and-homes with Michigan State, Rutgers and USC in 2024 and 2025 before likely having three new back-to-back opponents in 2026 and 2027. Michigan State, meanwhile, will continue to have Michigan on its schedule every year while rotating two new home-and-home opponents in 2026 and 2027, assuming the current format sticks.

USC has Wisconsin in its group of home-and-home opponents in 2024 and 2025, along with Penn State and UCLA, while the Bruins will face Nebraska and Rutgers in their first two seasons in the conference.