As outrageous as subjectively classifying certain non-Power programs as Power opponents seems on the surface, what does it mean for the Big Ten in terms of future wins and losses?
Take a look.
All-Time vs. Current Big Ten Members: 43-50-3 (46.3%)
Since 1990: 4-15 (21%)
Army played Penn State and Rutgers in 2015, both losses. The most recent win over a Big Ten foe came in 2011 vs. Northwestern, a 21-14 result at West Point.
The Black Knights have played only three Big Ten opponents since 1990; Northwestern (1-0), Penn State (0-1) and Rutgers (3-14).
It’s also worth noting that 66 of the 96 all-time games Army has played vs. current Big Ten opponents (69%) came against Penn State (10-14-2) and Rutgers (18-22).
All-Time vs. Current Big Ten Members: 19-52-3 (27.7%)
Since 1990: 10-19 (34.5%)
Cincinnati last squared off with a Big Ten team in 2014, when it traveled to Columbus and got zapped 50-28 by No. 22 Ohio State. The last time it beat a current Big Ten member was in 2013, when it opened up with a 42-7 win over Purdue.
Though the Bearcats have split their all-time series with Illinois (1-1), Michigan State (1-1), Purdue (1-1) and Rutgers (9-9), they don’t hold a winning record vs. any Big Ten member.
Since 1990, Cincinnati is 0-2 vs. Indiana, 0-1 vs. Iowa, 0-5 vs. Ohio State and 0-3 vs. Penn State. They are 7-4 vs. Rutgers, but those games were all played before the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Future Big Ten Opponents: 2016-at Purdue, 2017-at Michigan (the Wolverines also have Florida that season), 2019-at Ohio State (the Buckeyes also have TCU that season), 2020-at Nebraska, 2021-at Indiana, 2022-Indiana and 2025-Nebraska.
All-Time vs. Current Big Ten Members: 53-63-4 (45.8%)
Since 1990: 7-17 (29.2%)
Navy last played a Big Ten foe in 2014 when it clashed with No. 5 Ohio State in the season opener in Baltimore. The Buckeyes won 34-17. The last win came in 2013, when it opened up with a 41-35 victory at Indiana.
The bulk of the Midshipmen’s Big Ten resume comes against Maryland (14-7), Penn State (17-19-2) and Rutgers (11-13-1). The trio accounts for 84 games, or 70% of the 120 total contests that Navy has played against the current Big Ten field.
Since 1990, Navy is 2-0 vs. Indiana, but holds losing records vs. Maryland (0-2), Northwestern (0-1), Ohio State (0-2), Penn State (0-1) and Rutgers (5-11).
Future Big Ten Opponents: None scheduled.
All-Time vs. Current Big Ten Members: 14-26 (35%)
Since 1990: 9-9 (50%)
UConn’s most recent action vs. a current Big Ten member came in 2013 when it upended Rutgers 28-17. That counted as a conference win as the Scarlet Knights were still American Athletic members at the time.
The most recent win over a Big Ten opponent who was an actual member at game time came in 2006, when the Huskies traveled to Indiana and won 14-7.
UConn has only played four current Big Ten members all-time; Indiana (2-0), Maryland (1-2), Michigan (0-2) and Rutgers (11-22). Other than 21 games of the series with Rutgers, all of the Huskies’ Big Ten experience has been since 1990.
All-Time vs. Current Big Ten Members: 7-15-2 (33.3%)
Since 1990: 3-5 (37.5%)
Air Force played a Big Ten member as recently as 2015 when it lost 35-21 at No. 4 Michigan State. The last win came all the way back in 2003 when it edged Northwestern 22-21 in Evanston. Prior to that you have to go back to the 1990 Liberty Bowl, a 23-11 win over No. 24 Ohio State.
The only Big Ten member the Falcons have a winning record against is Northwestern (4-2). They have never beaten Illinois (0-1-1), Iowa (0-0-1), Maryland (0-2), Michigan (0-2), Michigan State (0-1), Minnesota (0-1), Penn State (0-3) and Wisconsin (0-1).
Future Big Ten Opponents: 2017-at Michigan (the Wolverines also have Florida that year).
The Bottom Line
Combined, Army, Cincinnati, Navy, UConn and Air Force are 136-206-12 (40%) vs. the current Big Ten programs. Since 1990, the number drops to 33-65 (33.7%).
Compare that to the ACC’s (arguably the weakest of the Power conferences) all-time record vs. the current Big Ten; 636-690-36 (48%). That number includes the entire league top-to-bottom, from a 17-41-1 all-time mark vs. Ohio State, to a dominating 110-45-2 record vs. Rutgers.
At minimum, based on history, Big Ten members have a 10-15% better chance of scoring a win over Army, Cincinnati, Navy, UConn and Air Force than they would against an ACC member. It’s a number that grows vs. the heavier-hitting Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.
It adds up to a tremendous advantage for those teams who chose to schedule one of the five teams. To illustrate, when Purdue plays Eastern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Nevada this season, it’s technically, in the Big Ten’s eyes, the same thing as Michigan State playing Furman, Notre Dame and BYU.
From a nationwide perspective, Purdue’s non-conference schedule counts the same as Pitt’s. Only the Panthers have Villanova, Penn State, Oklahoma State and Marshall.