A few Big Ten scheduling items

Who doesn't love scheduling news and nuggets this time of year? Well, I've got two things for ya.

Purdue on Tuesday announced future nonconference home games with Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois. The Boilers will host Eastern Michigan on Sept. 15, 2012; Northern Illinois on Oct. 5, 2013; and Southern Illinois on Sept. 20, 2014.

Purdue's nonconference schedules are now compete through 2015. Things are pretty cushy from 2010-12 but could get tougher as Cincinnati joins Notre Dame on the slate beginning in 2013.

Also, Phil Steele has ranked the schedules for all 120 FBS teams by degree of difficulty. He takes into account two main factors: his sets of power ratings for 2010 and the breakdown of home games vs. away games for each squad.

Minnesota has the Big Ten's toughest schedule (No. 5 nationally), according to Steele, with an opener on the road against Sun Belt champ Middle Tennessee and a home game against USC. Northwestern has the league's easiest schedule, ranking No. 94 nationally.

These are rankings for complete schedules (nonconference and conference). Teams obviously can control the nonconference schedules to a certain degree, but the Big Ten schedules are determined by protected rivalries and the rotating no-plays (each team doesn't play two of its Big Ten brethren).

Here's where Big Ten teams rank in Steele's rundown of the nation's toughest schedules:

Minnesota: No. 5

Penn State: No. 16

Illinois: No. 21

Iowa: No. 35

Michigan: No. 37

Michigan State: No. 58

Ohio State: No. 61

Indiana: No. 71

Purdue: No. 74

Wisconsin: No. 85

Northwestern: No. 94