Conference Schedule to Grow
It makes perfect sense that a conference with 14 members ought to play more than just eight in-league games in a twelve-game season. The cost of extending the season to nine or ten games is fewer home games, and probably also fewer wins for conference teams (since so many easy games are typically scheduled during the non-conference portion of the season). Couple that with the statements by Barry Alvarez that the Big Ten will cease scheduling FCS schools and you should see noticeably tougher schedules all around.
If the nine or ten game schedule were to take effect any time soon (say as early as 2014), Nebraska would be in the position of having to back out of scheduled games. The Huskers have four nonconference games set for 2014 (the "Pelini bowl" against Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, Fresno State, and Miami), 2015 ( BYU, South Alabama, Miami, and Southern Miss), and 2016 (Fresno State, Tennessee, Wyoming, Northern Illinois). The Huskers also scheduled three games in 2019 (South Alabama, Colorado, Northern Illinois).
There was some talk that Miami might back out of their scheduled games with Nebraska anyway, which could help in the event of a nine-game schedule. Going to ten games in the near term seems downright impractical considering all of the reshuffling that would have to take place up and down the conference. The upshot of ten games is you'd actually have a genuine basis for calling your league the Big Ten.
The impact of more games is that fans won't have to wait quite so long to see each league opponent visit their town. With an eight-game schedule and a designated cross-division rival, you would wait 12 years between home dates against a team from the other division. A nine or ten-game slate would reduce the wait considerably. Truthfully though, cross-division rivalries make little sense in such a big league. They create an unfair advantage for teams matched up against perennially weak opponents and keep teams waiting longer to face everyone in the conference.
Still, without designated cross-division rivalries it's hard to come up with a sensible plan for dividing teams into divisions that both preserves valued rivalries and maintains competitive balance. An East-West split might put Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State on the same side, while perhaps ending the Purdue/Indiana game that someone in the Hoosier state might actually care about. Meanwhile, Nebraska and Wisconsin might slug it out in the other division with everyone else playing for third place. Making the teams face say Ohio State and Michigan every year might at least make the Huskers and Badgers work a bit harder to earn a division title.
Change appears to be the constant in college football. Stay tuned.