Michigan State’s path to a Big Ten football championship is set to get much tougher starting in 2014.
According to an ESPN.com report, MSU is heading east in the Big Ten’s division realignment. Joining the Spartans in what will be the Big Ten’s East Division are Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana and conference newcomers Maryland and Rutgers.
The west division will feature Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Iowa.
The divisions, as well as a move to a nine-game conference schedule for football starting in 2016, are expected to be approved by Big Ten presidents and chancellors next week.
Geographically the divisions make sense. Competitively, the East appears to be the much tougher football division. With the move, the Spartans will have to face historically what have been some of the Big Ten’s best football programs – Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State – every year. MSU has Penn State and Ohio State off its schedule this fall and is scheduled to face just Legends division rival Michigan this season.
While Penn State will be affected by the NCAA sanctions, Michigan and Ohio State have picked up some positive momentum under Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer.