CHICAGO — As the Big Ten prepares to expand to 16 teams in 2024 with the addition of USC and UCLA, they are making a few adjustments to the football schedule.

That includes a major change to how they’ll align the conference moving forward.

On Thursday, the league announced that they will no longer have divisions, something that has been in place since Nebraska joined the conference in 2011. Instead, all 16 teams will compete for the regular season title, with the top two squads advancing to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Tiebreaker procedures for the top two spots will be announced at a later date.

Each school will play nine games in the conference and play every other Big Ten opponent at least twice – once home and once away – in a four-year period.

(Courtesy: Big Ten Conference)

Part of the way they’ll schedule teams is through the “flex protect plus” which will protect some of the rivalries in the conference while setting “two play” opponents for each school, where they’ll face them in both 2024 and 2025.

Illinois has two protected rivalries: The Land of Lincoln Trophy game with Northwestern & The Cannon game vs Purdue. For the Illini, their “two play” opponent during 2024 and 2025 that time will be Ohio State.

The Wildcats’ contest with the Illini is their only protected rivalry game as they’re guaranteed to face Ohio State & Purdue in the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

(Courtesy: Big Ten Conference)

The conference also released the conference opponent rotations for the 2024 and 2025 seasons on Thursday.

Illinois will host Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and Purdue while traveling to Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rutgers, and USC. It will be Illinois’ first time facing the Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum since 1989.

Northwestern will host the Illini, Indiana, Nebraska, and USC, as the Trojans travel to Evanston for the first time since 1968. The Wildcats will be on the road to face Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and UCLA, which will be their first trip to the Rose Bowl since they played in that game on January 1, 1996.

(Courtesy: Big Ten Conference)

In 2025, Northwestern will have five home games as they host Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. They’ll hit the road for the Land of Lincoln Trophy game in Champaign against Illinois along with road trips to Iowa, Michigan, and Michigan State.

Along with hosting the Wildcats, Illinois welcomes Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State, and UCLA to Memorial Stadium while traveling to Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin.