When the Big Ten released the single play list for next season, it revealed a few interesting aspects of Michigan‘s 2013-14 season. The teams that they will play only once are home games with Penn State and Northwestern and road games at Illinois and Ohio State.
First off, it is somewhat unfortunate for Michigan to only play Northwestern and Penn State once each next season. Those were arguably the two worst teams in the Big Ten and should be again next season. Although Michigan did actually get upset by the Nittany Lions a year ago, it is to their benefit to play the bottom teams in the conference as much as possible, obviously. In the grand scheme of things, it is not a huge deal, as they will at least get two games against Nebraska, unlike last season, which somewhat balances it out.
The biggest story from this release for Michigan is the fact that they only play their rivals Ohio State once next season. The Buckeyes will not visit Crisler Arena for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Obviously it is unfortunate that the two rivals will only be playing each other once, as their clashes are always entertaining, good for both teams’ resumes and get a lot of media attention for both programs.
This raises the question of how the Big Ten will deal with the upcoming 14 team conference when Maryland and Rutgers join in 2014. Will the Big Ten institute protected rivalries like they already do in football? It just seems foolish for the conference to have Michigan play a team like Nebraska, Northwestern or Rutgers twice, but potentially only play rivals Ohio State once.
You can follow Alex Dale on Twitter @alexdalecbb.