Report: Big Ten adopts 9-game schedule

Updated: August 26, 2010, 11:53 AM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

The Big Ten doesn't expect to reveal its new division alignment until mid September, but pieces of the puzzle are starting to be revealed.

Rivals Wisconsin and Iowa will be placed in different divisions when the plan is announced, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday. Alvarez also said the Big Ten will adopt a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2015.

The former Wisconsin football coach provided no other details about the division alignment. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the league is about 80 percent done with the divisions and scheduling for the 2011 season, when Nebraska enters the conference.

"We've got the divisions, but we really don't have the schedules," Delany said. "The key critical area is we already had schedules [set] for '11."

Wisconsin and Iowa first met in 1894 and have played 85 times. The Badgers and Hawkeyes are currently protected rivals and have played every season since 1995.

Even if placed in separate divisions, the two teams could meet every season through a protected crossover game.

Delany told ESPN.com that a potential benefit of putting rivals like Michigan and Ohio State in different divisions is that the teams can play for a Rose Bowl berth in the new Big Ten championship game, which begins in 2011.

"If you split teams, whether it's Purdue and Indiana or Illinois and Northwestern or Michigan-Ohio State or Nebraska and Penn State, if you split them, they can both go [to the championship game]," Delany said. "If you don't split them, only one can go."

Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at espnritt@gmail.com.

ALSO SEE