Michigan State, winner of the 2011 Big Ten Legends Division, will return to the Nittany Lions' schedule in 2015 for the first time since the 2010 season. The Nittany Lions and Spartans played every season from 1993-2010, with the winner capturing the Land Grant Trophy. Penn State is 13-5 against Michigan State since starting Big Ten competition in 1993 and leads the overall series, 14-13-1.
Legends Division member Iowa also returns to the Nittany Lions' schedule in 2015 after rotating off in 2013 and '14. Penn State beat Iowa last year in Beaver Stadium and visits the Hawkeyes Oct. 20 for a 7 p.m. CT kick on BTN. In 2015, the Nittany Lions will host Big Ten foes Illinois (Oct. 3), Purdue (Oct. 24), Iowa (Nov. 7) and Nebraska (Nov. 21).
Penn State will have a blockbuster conference home schedule in 2016, hosting Michigan State (Nov. 12) and Leaders Division rivals Indiana (Oct. 15), Ohio State (Oct. 29) and Wisconsin (Nov. 26). The Nittany Lions and Badgers are meeting in the final regular season game every year from 2011-16.
When Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011-12, the conference instituted football divisions and a championship game. The divisional alignments that are:
LEADERS DIVISION - Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin
LEGENDS DIVISION - Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
The winner of each Big Ten division will meet in the Big Ten Football Championship Game, to be played in primetime on December 1, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The championship game will determine the Big Ten Champion and the conference's participant in the Rose Bowl Game or Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. FOX Sports is the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. Each Big Ten team plays the other five schools within its division and also faces three teams from the other division, including one cross-division matchup guaranteed, on an annual basis. Penn State's guaranteed cross-division matchup is Nebraska and the two national powers resumed their rivalry last season. The teams will meet in Memorial Stadium on Nov. 10, 2012 for their first clash in Lincoln since 2003.
Among the highlights of Penn State's 2015 and 2016 non-conference schedules are renewals of series with Rutgers and Pitt and two meetings with Temple. The Nittany Lions visit Rutgers Sept. 13, 2014 and will host the Scarlet Knights on Sept. 19, 2015. Penn State visits Pitt on Sept. 10, 2016 and the Panthers return to Beaver Stadium on Sept. 16, 2017.
The Big Ten-Pac-12 collaboration in football is scheduled to begin by the 2017 season, with the objective to create an annual 12 inter-conference game schedule between the two conferences. The plan calls for each school to play an opponent from the other conference every year with some flexibility built into the process to respect existing post-2017 FBS non-conference match-ups.
During the 2014 season, Penn State will host Massachusetts, which is joining the Mid-American Conference this year as a football member. The Nittany Lions and Minutemen will be meeting for the first time.