MINNEAPOLIS, MN – OCTOBER 11: A general view of TCF Bank Stadium during the game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Northwestern Wildcats on October 11, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)The Big Ten again looks to be one of the more competitive leagues in the country next season. There are several teams that can win the conference and potentially make the College Football Playoff.Which Big Ten teams have the hardest schedules? Which ones have the easiest?CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli has ranked each Big Ten team according to strength of schedule. He used factors such as game location, bye weeks and opponent’s past performances in his ranking.The easiest schedule in the league, according to Fornelli, belongs to Minnesota.Here’s why:Both Illinois and Iowa have FCS opponents, which dragged their schedules down. Minnesota does not, yet it still managed to finish last in these rankings. It’s thanks in large part to a nonconference schedule that includes New Mexico State, Fresno State and Miami (Ohio) all at home. In B1G play, the Gophers get Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern at home, and have road trips against Maryland, Ohio State, Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin. So it won’t be easy, but compared to their Big Ten brethren, it might be easier than others.The Golden Gophers went 5-7 last season under new head coach P.J. Fleck. There’s a good chance they get back to a bowl in 2018.The schedule seems to be set up in their favor.You can read all of Fornelli’s schedule analysis here.
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