Big Ten sets 2023 football schedule: What’s changed and key dates

The Big Ten released an updated 2023 football schedule Wednesday — setting the stage for the conference’s final season at 14 teams before USC and UCLA join in 2024.

  • The Big Ten stuck with the East-West division formatas The Athletic previously reported. There are still questions moving forward about the number of protected rivalries and rotations.
  • The new schedule includes several location and date changes.
  • Penn State will open Big Ten play on the road for the eighth consecutive year.

What are the changes to the Big Ten schedule for 2023?

Among the biggest changes are two Black Friday games in 2023, televised by CBS and NBC. Iowa will play at Nebraska in that series’ 13th straight Black Friday edition, but the schools joining the Hawkeyes and Huskers are undecided. The league will choose a second game at a later date.

All of the 2023 opponents remain unchanged from the original version, outside of six location switches.


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Why the Big Ten schedule changed

Although the Big Ten has schedules in place through the 2025 season, the league needs to change each year’s version from 2020 onward. During the 2019-20 seasons, those teams all played at the same location in part to ensure Michigan and Michigan State face either each other or Ohio State at home each year. Likewise, it allows Nebraska to play either Wisconsin or Iowa at home every year.

In 2022 there were eight changes from the original schedule. In the East Division, there were schedule changes for Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana and in the West Division with Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue needing to flip locations.

The two other changes in 2022 were dropping the Illinois at Penn State and Northwestern at Indiana matchups and instead having Illinois at Indiana and Northwestern at Penn State. The switches were made to avoid Illinois-Penn State in three consecutive seasons, and the Fighting Illini had not played at Bloomington since 2013.



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Who has the toughest schedule?

Minnesota faces the most difficult crossover schedule with games against Michigan and Michigan State at home, then at Ohio State. The Gophers play the Buckeyes on Nov. 18 then follow with a home game against rival Wisconsin in the finale. They also open on Thursday, Aug. 31 against Nebraska to kick off the Big Ten slate.

Who has the easiest schedule?

(Photo: Ron Johnson/USA Today)

Based on the cross-divisional alignment, Illinois could come away with the most advantageous schedule. The Fighting Illini open Big Ten play against Penn State on Sept. 16 in a rematch of their 2021 game that went to nine overtimes. Illinois’ other two crossovers are at Maryland and home against Indiana.

Best cross-division games

After playing a top-five game at Kinnick Stadium last year, Iowa and Penn State square off Sept. 23 in Happy Valley. A squabble related to whether Penn State’s defensive players faked injuries and Iowa fans’ booing led to week-long chirping between the coaches and fan bases.

Ohio State returns to Madison for the first time since 2016 when the Buckeyes play Wisconsin on Oct. 28. In the most unusual scheduling twist of the last decade, Purdue finally plays at Michigan for the first time since 2011, the first season of the Big Ten’s Legends and Leaders alignment.

Best week on the schedule

As always, it’s the final weekend. Five of the seven original matchups remain the same, but the Big Ten tweaked two season finales. Penn State will now play at Michigan State while Maryland travels to Rutgers. Initially, the Nittany Lions were supposed to end their season at Maryland, while the Spartans were supposed to travel to Rutgers.

In addition, one season finale will shift to Black Friday. It could involve a classic like Northwestern at Illinois, Wisconsin at Minnesota or Indiana at Purdue, or a relatively new series like Maryland-Rutgers or Penn State-Michigan State.

Despite the lack of league confirmation, there is no chance it will be Ohio State at Michigan.

Strangest trend

I’m sure Penn State coach James Franklin has some thoughts on opening Big Ten play on the road yet again in 2023 — the eighth consecutive year PSU will do so. PSU is at Illinois on Sept. 16. Franklin has voiced his displeasure about it quite a few times this year. Athletic director Pat Kraft also did this in July when he spoke to the Big Ten about the scheduling oddity.

“It is incredibly frustrating and disappointing that Penn State will be starting our Big Ten football slate next year on the road for the eighth straight season and for the 13th time in the last 14 years,” Kraft said in a statement Wednesday. “When I arrived on campus, I shared with the conference staff my concerns and repeatedly referred to their failure to address this issue in the past. I have been in communication with Commissioner (Kevin) Warren and I am confident this issue will be addressed.”



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What about the non-conference slate?

Here’s who each team is scheduled to face in nonconference play in 2023:

2023 Big Ten nonconference schedules

Big Ten school Opponent Opponent Opponent

Toledo (H)

Kansas (A)

Florida Atlantic (H)

Indiana State (H)

Louisville (N)

Akron (H)

Utah State (H)

Iowa State (A)

Western Michigan (H)

Towson (H)

Charlotte (H)

Virginia (H)

East Carolina (H)


Bowling Green (H)

Central Michigan (H)

Richmond (H)

Washington (H)

Eastern Michigan (H)

North Carolina (A)

Louisiana (H)

Colorado (A)

Northern Illinois (H)

Louisiana Tech (H)


Duke (A)

New Mexico State (H)

Youngstown State (H)

Western Kentucky (H)

Notre Dame (A)

West Virginia (H)

Delaware (H)

UMass (H)

Fresno State (H)

Virginia Tech (A)

Syracuse (H)

Temple (H)

Virginia Tech (H)

Ohio (H)

Buffalo (H)

Washington State (A)

Georgia Southern (H)

What’s next

Along with announcing the second Black Friday game, the league will shift at least two Saturday games to Friday night and perhaps move an opening-weekend game to Labor Day Sunday.

When USC and UCLA join the league in 2024, Big Ten and school officials will not only discuss its structure but the number of permanent opponents. The likely outcome is either three designated rivals and playing the other 12 schools twice every four years, or two rivals with a seven-game/11-year rotation.

And, perhaps in 2024, Penn State will open league play with a Big Ten home game.

Required reading

(Photo: Matthew O’Haren / USA Today)


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