The Runner Sports

2017 Big Ten Football Non-Conference Schedule Breakdown

Now that spring practice has officially ended, we turn our eyes towards the start of the 2017 season. Overall, the Big Ten will face 13 Power 5 teams on the schedule in non-conference play, including the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The BYU Cougars are also on the schedule, along with a number of American Athletic Conference teams. They also have 31 of 42 non-conference games at home. Therefore, the Big Ten football schedule sets up nicely during non-conference play.

In the coming weeks, we will delve deeper into the individual schedules. However, we are focusing on the most intriguing non-conference games for each team.

Big Ten Football Schedule Breakdown

Nebraska Cornhuskers

When the Nebraska Cornhuskers kick off the 2017 season they know their season will be in the balance early. After opening the season at home against the Arkansas State Red Wolves, the Huskers travel to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks. This will be the Huskers’ only Power 5 team on the non-conference schedule. Last season, the Huskers slipped by the Ducks in Lincoln. They end the non-conference slate with the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Toughest Game- Oregon Ducks

Wisconsin Badgers

The Wisconsin Badgers have a couple of sneaky games early on. They open the season against the Utah State Aggies and Florida Atlantic Owls. The Badgers also travel to the BYU Cougars in a pivotal game in Week 3. If they escape with an undefeated non-conference record, the Badgers will be primed for a run to the College Football Playoff. Noticeably, they don’t face a Power 5 team in non-conference play.

Toughest Game- BYU Cougars

Northwestern Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats are known for giving away early games. If they are able to avoid the trap games, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to make a run at a Big Ten title. The Wildcats start the season against the Nevada Wolfpack. They travel to the Duke Blue Devils before hosting the Bowling Green Falcons in their final tuneup.

Toughest Game- Duke Blue Devils

Purdue Boilermakers

It’s no secret that the Purdue Boilermakers have been one of the worst Big Ten programs in recent history. That’s why their daunting schedule is a chance to change the program’s course in season one under Jeff Brohm. The Boilermakers start the season on the road at Louisville Cardinals. Hello Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. They return home for a contest with the Ohio Bobcats. Then, the Boilermakers hit the road again for a game with the Missouri Tigers. The Boilermakers face two Power 5 teams and one of the best programs in the MAC in non-conference play.

Toughest Game- Louisville Cardinals

Iowa Hawkeyes

The Iowa Hawkeyes may be facing the best quarterback in college football next season. They open the season against the Wyoming Cowboys and Josh Allen. Remember, the Hawkeyes lost early on last year. They also face the Iowa State Cyclones and North Texas Mean Green.

Toughest Game- Wyoming Cowboys

Minnesota Gophers

The Minnesota Gophers have to work in a new quarterback this season. Therefore, they will rely on tough defense in the early part of the season. They take on the Buffalo Bulls in the opener. The Gophers also visit Oregon State Beavers in a rematch from last season. They finish the non-conference schedule against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

Toughest Game- Oregon State Beavers

Illinois Fighting Illini

If the Illinois Fighting Illini complete a non-conference undefeated season, they can earn a bowl bid. The Fighting Illini don’t have any Power 5 teams on the schedule. They host the Ball State Cardinals and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the first two weeks. They also travel to face the South Florida Bulls.

Toughest Game- South Florida Bulls

Ohio State Buckeyes

Interestingly enough, the Ohio State Buckeyes open the season with a conference opponent. They visit the Indiana Hoosiers in Week 1. Then they take on the Oklahoma Sooners, Army Black Knights, and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. The Buckeyes dominated the Sooners last season on the road. Will they control the Sooners two seasons in a row? This might prove to be the best game of the week.

Toughest Game- Oklahoma Sooners

Michigan Wolverines

The Michigan Wolverines open the season with a neutral site game against the Florida Gators. They host the Cincinnati Bearcats and Air Force Falcons before the conference season starts. The Wolverines barely left the state last season. Therefore, the season opener will be a great test for the world travelers.

Toughest Game- Florida Gators

Michigan State Spartans

When the Spartans commenced last season, they expected to be contenders for another conference title. This season they want to get back to bowl contention. Their interesting non-conference schedule includes the Bowling Green Falcons, Western Michigan Broncos, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish. All three games are at home. The Broncos are coming off of an undefeated regular season. However, they lost a number of assets including the coach, quarterback, and best wide receiver.

Toughest Game- Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Penn State Nittany Lions

The Big Ten Champions have a tough overall schedule and it begins early. They host Akron Zips, Pittsburgh Panthers, and Georgia State Panthers in first three weeks. The Nittany Lions lost to the Panthers last season in a thrilling game.

Toughest Game- Pittsburgh Panthers

Indiana Hoosiers

If the Indiana Hoosiers are looking to get beyond six wins, they need to win all three non-conference games. Remember, they open the season against the Ohio State Buckeyes. They visit the Virginia Cavaliers in Week 2. The Hoosiers return home to face the FIU Panthers and Georgia Southern Eagles.

Toughest Game- Virginia Cavaliers

Maryland Terrapins

With the Maryland Terrapins blazing the recruiting trail, they have a chance to make a knockout punch to start the college football season. The Terrapins visit the Texas Longhorns in the season opener. They host the Townson Tigers and UCF Golden Knights before the Big Ten conference season begins.

Toughest Game- Texas Longhorns

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Last season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights’ only victories came in the non-conference part of the schedule. Once again, they open the season against the Washington Huskies. They also host the Eastern Michigan Eagles and Morgan State Bears.

Toughest Game- Washington Huskies

Lyle Harrison
Football Me

Lyle Harrison

Big Ten Lead Writer at The Runner Sports
William Lyle Harrison is here to provide unique insight to your overrated college football team. He currently serves as the lead writer for Big Ten Football at The Runner Sports. Since joining the company in July 2016, Harrison has displayed a passion for sports that's been present since the early age of six.

Harrison has covered NFL, NBA, and CBB in the past. Earlier in his career, he was a national college football writer and Team writer for Husker Corner. Harrison also created the college football "Treat 16 Power Poll" some years back when college coaches relied on the running game.
Lyle Harrison
Football Me