Dec 4, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; The Big Ten logo displayed on the court before the game between the Western Carolina Catamounts and the Illinois Fighting Illini at Assembly Hall. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking The 2013 Big Ten Football Out-of-Conference Schedules

College football never seems to take a break, so why should we? With the season getting closer by the day, WI wanted to take a look at how every Big Ten teams out of conference (OOC) schedule stacked up against each other.

Upon further review, it appears Western Michigan might be attempting to take advantage of all the conference realignment going on and make a bid to join the Big Ten, appearing on 3 different teams OOC schedules.

All jokes aside, here’s how the Big Ten teams out of conference schedules look heading into the season, ranked by team, according to difficulty.

1. Purdue

Opponents: @Cincinnati, vs. Indiana St., vs. Notre Dame, vs. Northern Illinois

If you toss out the game against the Sycamores, this OOC has some serious bumps in the road. Cincinnati should contend for the Big East crown, Notre Dame is coming off a National Title appearance, and Northern Illinois returns it’s starting QB from a team that made a BCS bowl a year ago. One word: tough. Good luck Boilers!

2. Indiana

Opponents: vs. Indiana St., vs. Navy, vs. Bowling Green, vs. Missouri

The Hoosiers have a legitimate chance at going 1-3 with this schedule. Navy is a tough stylistic match-up with their triple option. Bowling Green returns 20 starters and should be tough in the MAC, which is known for teams running up the scoreboard. Missouri is an SEC opponent that brings definite trouble with them when they visit Bloomington.

3. Wisconsin

Opponents: vs. UMASS, vs. Tennessee Tech, @Arizona State, vs. BYU

The first two should be a cake walk for the Badgers as they get used to their new coach, but then it gets much more difficult as they head to the desert to tangle with the Sun Devils, a team that hopes to rep the PAC-12 in the Rose Bowl. Then, they polish off their OOC with a match-up against always tough BYU. Add in the fact that they lost their HC, and this schedule takes on an even tougher dimension.

4. Michigan

Opponents: vs. Central Michigan, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Akron, @UCONN

The Wolverines get the 4-spot here because they tangle with Notre Dame, and have to travel to UCONN to face off with the Huskies. They should fare just fine in the other two contests.

5. Michigan State

Opponents: vs. Western Michigan, vs. South Florida, vs. Youngstown State, @ Notre Dame

The toughest game on this schedule, by a wide margin, is the trip to Notre Dame. It also might be the most intriguing OOC match-up in the entire Big Ten. Sparty is in for a dog fight right before Big Ten play for sure.

6. Illinois

Opponents: vs. Southern Illinois (FCS), vs. Cincinnati, vs. Washington (Soldier Field), vs. Miami(OH)

All four games are going to be played on Illinois soil so there is an advantage there. Illinois would do very well to come out 3-1, but 2-2 seems much more possible. Mark me down for their two wins being against SIU and Miami (OH).

7. Iowa

Opponents: vs. Northern Illinois, vs. Missouri State, @ Iowa State, vs. Western Michigan

Iowa gets a tough draw right out of the chute, then an FCS opponent to dismantle. They follow that up with an in-state rivalry game and those never seem to be easy, and finish up with the Broncos. Not the toughest slate, but certainly not easy by any stretch either.

8. Nebraska

Opponents: vs. Wyoming, vs. Southern Miss, vs. UCLA, vs. South Dakota State

UCLA will be the toughest of this draw. Wyoming returns 16 starters from a team that went 4-8 last season which could mean they might be competitive, but I highly doubt they cause any major issues for the Huskers. Southern Miss has a new HC in Todd Monken, formerly Oklahoma State’s OC so there will be an adjustment period. SDSU is an FCS sacrificial lamb.

9. Northwestern

Opponents: @California, vs. Syracuse, vs. Western Michigan, vs. Maine

Cal was terrible last season. Ryan Nassib is gone, and so is Syracuse’s head coach. The Broncos and Bears round out this potential 4-0 start for the Wildcats.

10. Penn State

Opponents: vs. Syracuse, vs. Eastern Michigan, vs. UCF, vs. Kent State

See above with regards to the Orange. EMU was horrible a year ago. UCF has a brand new starting quarterback so there will be inexperience at the most key position for the Knights. Kent State lost their head coach after a very successful season a year ago. 4-0 is certainly not out of the question if they find a solid QB to man the helm of this potentially powerful offense.

11. Ohio State

Opponents: vs. Buffalo, vs. San Diego State, @ California, vs. Florida A&M

The Buckeyes would’ve had the easiest OOC of the Big Ten if Minnesota’s wasn’t so terrible. Ohio State should roll to an undefeated OOC portion of their schedule.

12. Minnesota

Opponents: vs. UNLV, vs. New Mexico State, vs. Western Illinois, vs. San Jose State

Minnesota should run directly through this OOC en route to a 4-0 start. They could be the talk of the conference because of their record, but don’t let this schedule fool you. It’s atrocious.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.

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