Big Ten to play nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2017

Park Ridge, Ill. — The Big Ten announced Thursday (Aug. 4) that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season.

Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years.

The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division.

Penn State will play three home non-conference games during odd-numbered years, when the Nittany Lions are scheduled to play five Big Ten away games, for a total of seven games in Beaver Stadium. In 2017, Penn State will host Pitt (Sept. 16), one year after playing the Panthers in Pittsburgh.

During even-numbered years, when Penn State is scheduled to play five conference home games (starting in 2018), the Nittany Lions will play a total of seven or eight contests in Beaver Stadium.

The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.

The 116th season of Big Ten football kicks off on Sept. 1. Penn State is among 10 conference teams opening action on Saturday, Sept. 3, including Nebraska's first official game as a member of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions will open their 125th season by hosting Indiana State at 12:00 p.m. on Sept. 3, followed a week later by Alabama's first visit to Beaver Stadium since 1989.

Conference play will begin on Saturday, Oct. 1, including Penn State at Indiana, and will feature divisional play for the first time. The champions of each division will meet on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and televised by FOX Sports. The winner of the title game will earn the Big Ten Championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.

Penn State Football season and single tickets are available. Ticket purchases and information is available online at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or fans can call Penn State Athletics Customer Relations at 1-800-NITTANY (648-8269) Monday through Friday from 9 a.m-5 p.m. Pre-paid parking passes for the general parking lots also are available at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets .

Coach Joe Paterno welcomes 44 returning letterwinners and 15 starters for his 46th season as head coach. Practice begins today for the Nittany Lions' 125th season.

Since the start of the 2005 season, Penn State has earned a 58-19 record, with its 75.3 winning percentage among the top 10 percent in the nation. Over the past six years the Nittany Lions have won two Big Ten Championships, won four bowl games and played in five New Year's or Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games, the nation's third-highest total.

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Last Updated August 05, 2011