Beginning in 2016, the Big Ten -- like the SEC and ACC -- will require its league members to play at least one nonconference Power 5 team.
The Big Ten also will allow games vs. Cincinnati and Connecticut, of the American Athletic Conference, to count as a Power 5 opponent, Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner said. A source said Navy, in its first year in AAC, will also count. However, not all members of the AAC will count toward the Power 5 nonconference requirement, a source told ESPN.
Big Ten schools may ask for exemptions for programs not in a Power 5 league to count toward the conference's Power 5 requirement, Rudner said.
Cincinnati is on the future schedules of Indiana (2021-22), Michigan (2017), Nebraska (2020 and 2025) and Ohio State (2019), while UConn has games scheduled with Illinois (2019-20) and Indiana (2019-20).
The Indianapolis Star earlier reported that Cincinnati and UConn would count as Power 5 opponents for Big Ten schools.
Rudner added the league would evaluate any other non-Power 5 schools -- programs in the AAC, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt leagues -- brought up by a Big Ten school and decide whether they would count as Power 5 opponents based on their RPI rankings in recent years and other factors.
The Big Ten joins the SEC and ACC as the only Power 5 leagues that require their league members to play at least one nonconference Power 5 opponent. The ACC requirement starts in 2016; the SEC in 2017.
The Pac-12 and Big 12 have no such requirement concerning its nonconference schedules.
Like the Big Ten, the SEC also counts games vs. Army, BYU and Notre Dame toward the Power 5 requirement. However, the ACC counts only games vs. BYU and Notre Dame, a source said.
The SEC and ACC count only games against the FBS independents and do not count games from any Group of 5 conferences toward their Power 5 requirements.
Starting in 2016, the Big Ten will not allow any league members to play FCS opponents once any future games that were already under contract have been played. The Big Ten is the only FBS league that will not allow its league members to play FCS opponents.