Remember all that talk about super conferences? Well, I want to resurrect that for the moment and assume that The Big Ten wants to expand to 16 teams. The biggest problem I was struggling with was the notion of two divisions of 8 teams each and how you would see teams from the other division once every eight years or so. And that took expanding the in conference games to 9. Whew, that is ugly and doesn't make much sense to me. So I played around with some ideas and came up with something that I think is pretty clever. For the sake of argument, I've assumed the four teams that join the big team are Pitt, Rutgers, Maryland and Notre Dame (kicking and screaming of course).
The Big Ten would then be divided into four regions, East, Mideast, West & Midwest. The two east teams making up the Eastern division and the two west teams making up the Western. Teams would be placed thusly:
East: Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers & Maryland
Mideast: Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois & Northwestern (Yeah, I know that geographically there are better choices, but bear with me here. I have reasoning behind it all).
Midwest: Notre Dame, Indiana, Purdue & Michigan State
West: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin & Minnesota
So with 3 out of conference games, 3 inter-regional games and then two from each of the other regions, alternating each two every other year for another 6 games.
Imagine the major season ending match-ups: Penn State / Pitt; Ohio State / Michigan; Notre Dame / Michigan State and finally, Iowa / Nebraska. Additionally, you would have: Indiana / Purdue; Illinois / Northwestern; Wisconsin / Minnesota and Rutgers / Maryland.
Almost every existing rivalry remains intact, plus adds a few new ones (at least to the Big Ten)
Notre Dame will play Michigan State and Purdue every year and could play Michigan two years on and two years off, alternating with Penn State for the two years off as a fer instance, and could do the same with Pitt & northwestern, so for the most part, ND keeps its Big Ten rivalries intact, and if it chooses to do so, can maintain its other rivalries with USC, Navy, Stanford & Boston College by playing OOC rotating the four among their three OOC spots.