So here we are. We know our protected cross-division game is Nebraska (which I believe we're all thrilled with, right?), and we have a pretty nice division. I'll discuss that in a moment.
But first, I think I need to address one of the most disturbing things I'll ever say. We need to root for perennially overrated, consistently mediocre at best, Virginia Tech this weekend. Listen, I hate VT as much as any true fan of college football. They are more frequently overrated (in the past decade, at least) than Notre Dame or all but two Texas teams. Every year, they're a darkhorse national championship team. Frankly, PSU, OSU, most Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa teams, and all the big guys in the SEC would go undefeated most years in the inflated Big East of a conference they call the ACC. Yet VT never does it, and we always hear that this is their year. This year is no different - VT is a fringe top-10 team with one real challenge (I refer to real as in, if you're a true contender, this Miami team isn't gonna beat you, and nobody else in the ACC should tickle you).
So, VT's "championship hopes," if we can call them that (more like delusions), begin or end with a victory this weekend against Texas Tech-lite, Boise State. As we all know, system quarterbacks are great at absurd stats. Dig TTU or Hawaii offenses recently - absurd stats, but their QBs aren't really so good. Yet, BSU's QB, Kellen Moore, is a Heisman candidate (QB of a top 5 team and all) because his team plays exactly ONE TEAM WITH A PULSE - the aforementioned consistently worthless VT. Sadly, BSU does not deal with the schedule that TTU does - good programs like OU, UT and Nebraska, plus some moderates scattered across the conference.
So (here comes a 1-sentence paragraph), we need VT to beat BSU so VT can go on and lose several more games later in the season, and we won't have to see either undeserving team in the NCG (because that would ruin college football).
Now, back to Penn State and its new schedule. I just wanted to comment on our absurdly easy division - I think its more or less beat OSU and we're in in 85% of the seasons. Wisconsin, even when they're good, never matches up well against us. Sometimes they put a scare in, but that's over since the kick-penalty trick. Not a worry, and I'm glad we have them instead of Iowa because it makes our road easier.
However, and as I said, I like the Nebraska game, we have a good chance at a rough out-of-division schedule. We will play OSU, Wisconsin and Nebraska every year. Throw in a rotating Iowa or usually Michigan (or possibly both), and we'll be playing the top 4-5 non-PSU teams in the conference in a given year. So, my point is, while our division looks really nice - 1a OSU, 1b PSU, clear 2 Wisconsin, and a couple scrubs - it sets up for us to be shafted at least a few times a decade. Yikes.
And, as for the whole balance of power issue, I see the above point leading to a decidedly eastern advantage. At this point, and really for most of the last 5 years, the power has lain in OSU and PSU/UM. I think, continuing the trend of OSU/PSU games, but adding a guaranteed PSU/Neb. game, we'll see more recruits coming into our program, and OSU is always gonna have boosters paying prospects. I think these two guaranteed marquis matchups will help us out significantly (up until now, we could only point to intermittent games against UM and a sure thing against MSU - Nebraska for sure improves the appeal of our schedule), and with OSU already the bees knees, it could really sway things into a (longer) term of domination between the two. Cool stuff, huh? All speculation.