Big Ten Realignment

Conference divisions were announced today and Minnesota shares a division with border rival Iowa, but is opposite of historic rival Wisconsin. The new alignment places new-comer Nebraska in the same division as Minnesota. How will Minnesota's trophy games be affected the newly realigned conference?

Without further ado, the new-look Big Ten conference (not named yet):

Division 1

Michigan State

Division 2

Ohio State
Penn State

There will be annual crossover games played between cross-divisional rivals. This protects the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe--the most played rivalry game in Division I college football. It also protects other cross-divisional rivalries, Michigan/Ohio State, Iowa/Wisconsin and Northwestern/Illinois.

That means that Minnesota will be playing for each of its three most historically important trophies, the Little Brown Jug versus Michigan, Floyd of Rosedale versus Iowa and Paul Bunyan's Axe versus Wisconsin. The Governor's Victory Bell, which trades hands between Minnesota and Penn State, being the odd trophy out. Most likely the schools will continue to play for it as they do now.

An interesting nugget to come out of the news conference was the stipulation that Minnesota and Nebraska must be in the same division. This occurred most likely because Minnesota and Nebraska have played each other 51 times, the most between any Big Ten team and Nebraska. This opens up the perfect opportunity for the two teams to create a new trophy and perhaps rekindles a rivalry that dates back to 1900, when Minnesota beat Nebraska 20-12.

Of course, realignment was going to ruffle a few feathers. Wisconsin was placed in a division opposite of its two natural rivals, Minnesota and Iowa, and Many Ohio State and Michigan fans worry about having 'The Game' disrupted in any way. Another sticking point is basketball, but it was made clear that Big Ten basketball would not have to observe the divisional split.

The new divisions ultimately had to be artificial, as no one could predict the future balance of power among Big Ten schools, but this breakdown is probably the best case scenario to come out of the Big ten offices (at least for Minnesota fans).

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