Some say you can never start planning too early.
The Illini and their fans found out when and where they'll be playing games in 2018 and 2019 after the Big Ten released the conference slates for those upcoming seasons on Wednesday.
Though it seems a little early, the schedules will look a lot different five and six years down the road. Next season, Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten to make it a 14-team football conference, and in 2016 the conference will move to a nine-game schedule. Fans will also see new East and West divisions beginning next season. Legends and Leaders, we hardly knew ye.
Illinois will play in the new West division along with Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Purdue.
As for those new schedules, they offer a look at which cross-division opponents the Illini will take on in those seasons. Illinois will play both Maryland and Rutgers in 2018, plus another cross-division game against Penn State, the only game of those three in Champaign. That game with the Terrapins will be the first time the two teams square off as members of the Big Ten. In 2019, Illinois will welcome Michigan and Rutgers to Champaign and travel to play Michigan State in its three cross-divisional games.