California reality: NU, Illini will play L.A. games in 2024

The Big Ten's California dream became a reality on Thursday, as the conference announced football opponents for the 2024-25 seasons.

That's when USC and UCLA will join the great Midwest tradition that is Big Ten football.

Both Illinois and Northwestern will make trips to the West Coast in 2024. with the Illini taking on USC in the Coliseum and Northwestern visiting UCLA at the Rose Bowl. USC will visit Evanston in 2024.

The Big Ten also announced the protected rivalries, which vary in number. Northwestern has one protected rival (Illinois), while the Illini have two (NU and Purdue). Iowa is the lone school with three rivals (Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota). Penn State has none. USC and UCLA'S only protected rivals are each other.

The rest of the rivalries are obvious. Michigan will have Ohio State and Michigan State, for example.

There will also be no more East and West divisions, the top two finishers in the 16-team league will meet in the Big Ten title game.

Conference officials said they wanted to give teams and players a wide variety of opponents, which makes sense. With two eight-team divisions, Big Ten teams would be locked into seven division opponents and just two crossover games per year.

A downside is without divisions, the Big Ten title game the past two years would have been a Michigan-Ohio State rematch. The league risks turning its most valuable television property from the season's most meaningful game to virtually meaningless. They're prepared to cross that bridge, apparently.

Last year's Michigan-Ohio State game was the highest-viewed regular season college football game in at least 10 years, according to, and a big reason the Big Ten is getting $1 billion per season in TV revenue starting this season.

The league says game dates for the 2024 season will be announced later this year.

Each Big Ten team will have three opponents it plays in both 2024 and '25. Northwestern and Illinois drew Ohio State as a double opponent. Both the Illini and Wildcats will visit Columbus in '24, then the Buckeyes will make two trips to the state in '25.

Illinois gets home games against Michigan, Maryland, Iowa and Purdue in 2024, with OSU, Northwestern, USC, Michigan State and Rutgers on the road.

Northwestern's 2024 home games are Illinois, USC, Nebraska and Indiana; with OSU, UCLA, Penn State, Minnesota and Purdue on the road.

Here's what's in store for the in-state teams in 2025. Illinois home: Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, UCLA. Away: Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin.

Northwestern home: Maryland, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin. Away: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State.

The schedule sets up for every team to play every Big Ten opponent over a two-year span.

USC's initial Big Ten season includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois at home, with a trip to Penn State. UCLA will travel to Michigan and Iowa, while hosting Ohio State.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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