Michigan and Ohio State could get two chances in a season to beat each other.
The Big Ten announced its divisional breakdown for football last night, and Ohio State and Michigan will be in different six-team divisions when the league expands to 12 members in 2011.
Neither division has been named, but they break down like this: Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Northwestern in one; Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana in the other.
Commissioner Jim Delany said creating football divisions with competitive balance was the top priority and No. 2 was maintaining a cross-division rivalry game for each team.
“We felt like we could do equal competition and tradition with this move,’’ Delany said.
Michigan and Ohio State will be a cross-divisional rivalry and continue to play each other each year in the Big Ten regular-season finale, as they have since 1943. That means they could wind up meeting again for the conference championship a week or two later on a neutral field.
Big Ten teams will play eight conference games the next two seasons, but that could increase in the future.
“The athletic directors have the intention of exploring a ninth conference game in 2015,’’ Delany said.
For now, there are no plans for divisions in other sports.
Nebraska will join the Big Ten as its 12th team next year, allowing the conference to split into two divisions and add a lucrative championship game. The first Big Ten football championship game will be played in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, the indoor home of the NFL’s Colts.
“I’m very pleased that we came out of this with protected rivalries that will go on permanently with Ohio State and Michigan State,’’ Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said.
The school released a two-sentence statement that said the Tigers’ leading rusher the past two seasons is “permanently suspended’’ from the football program. The move comes two days after Washington, a team captain, was charged with a single count of felony deviate sexual assault.
Washington is accused of entering a former Missouri tutor’s bedroom while visiting her roommate and assaulting the woman while she slept.
Washington will remain on scholarship as long as he meets his academic requirements.
One of the future opponents will likely be Notre Dame, which athletic director Tom Holmoe said is working with BYU to iron out the details on a six-game deal through 2020.
Kiffin, who succeeds Pete Carroll, rejoined the program after a year with Tennessee and 20 games with the Oakland Raiders. Before that, he served as a USC assistant for several seasons.
The game was put in question when the NCAA hit USC with penalties that included a two-year bowl ban and four years of probation. The NCAA also banned USC from playing a 13th game this and next season, but later delayed the penalty to avoid forcing Hawaii to cancel this game.