Big Ten to play 9 league games starting in 2017

The Big Ten football teams will begin playing nine conference games in 2017 instead of eight.

The conference announced the change Thursday and it came as no surprise. When the league expanded to 12 teams by adding Nebraska this season, Commissioner Jim Delany said a nine-game conference schedule was being strongly considered.

The Big Ten split into two six-team divisions this season and will hold a football championship game for the first time.

The Big Ten has been playing an eight-game conference schedule since 1985.