The Big Ten has released the new 10-game schedule for our Michigan State Spartans, and it is quite the change up from the original. Let’s take a quick look at the new schedule:
- September 5: Minnesota Golden Gophers (Home)
- September 12: Maryland Terrapins (Away)
- September 19: Northwestern Wildcats (Home)
- September 26: Penn State Nittany Lions (Away)
- October 3: Michigan Wolverines (Away)
- October 10: Bye
- October 17: Ohio State Buckeyes (Home)
- October 24: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Home)
- October 31: Iowa Hawkeyes (Away)
- November 7: Indiana Hoosiers (Home)
- November 14: Bye
- November 21: Nebraska Cornhuskers (Away)
- November 28: Open week for potential makeup
A quick comparison of how the schedule was originally set shows this is quite the change-up. Michigan State was originally opening the season against Northwestern before hitting the road to Iowa. After that was a back to back home gauntlet of Michigan and Ohio State before a road game to Indiana. October was closing out with a home cross-over against Minnesota before November opened with a road game to Penn State. Jim Delaney’s lovely parting gift of a home game against Rutgers and a season finale at Maryland ended the conference season. Of course, MSU also loses out on non-conference games against Miami (FL.), BYU and Toledo.
Now the season opens with a home game still, but against Minnesota. Instead of the season finale, Maryland is now the second game of the season and the first road trip. Northwestern is still up in September in East Lansing, but the third game of the season.
Next up is a slightly more brutal gauntlet than before in that MSU now has back-to-back road games against Penn State and then Michigan. You may also notice Michigan is now flipped to a road game. No official word on the long-term implications of this, but it would be great if the conference used this season as an excuse to redo the schedule moving forward so Michigan and Ohio State are not both road games the same season. That would be some positive news out of COVID at least!
October 10 is finally a bye week for MSU before back-to-back home games against Ohio State and then Rutgers. A road game to Iowa follows before a home game against Indiana which was supposed to be played in Bloomington this season as originally scheduled. After Indiana is a bye week before MSU hits the road to close out the season at Nebraska (which is dumb and should have been Illinois). The conference left an open week on November 28 before keeping the originally scheduled conference championship game on December 5. You can see the entire conference schedule here:
Some of the other stunning conference changes coming for the season include the Michigan-Ohio State game on October 24. Additionally, while all teams are getting two bye weeks, the division games were not exactly front-loaded in the schedule. The cross-over games are all set-up so they mostly occur across the conference on the same week for each team. However, the lack of a third bye and only one week for a make-up game at the end of the season seems problematic at first look. Given quarantines take closer to 10-14 days, you would tend to think a team would lose a game they can’t make up in that case.
You can catch Commissioner Warren’s interview after the schedule was released here:
Overall the schedule is fairly brutal for Mel Tucker in his first season. If there are bowl games this season, I am not exactly confident I will be getting to watch MSU play in one sadly. But that’s why we play the games.
The Big Ten released the following comments about the new schedule updates as well:
- The plan is for Big Ten institutions to play a 10-game Conference-only schedule including the nine current opponents and one additional cross-division game
- The schedule starts as early as the weekend of Sept. 5 with final games slated for Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars
- The 10 games would be played over at least 12 weeks with each team having two open dates
- The schedule is structured to maximize flexibility:
- Games can be collapsed into bye weeks
- Uniform bye week on Nov. 28
- Cross-division games are currently scheduled for all schools in Week 1 (Sept. 5) and Week 12 (Nov. 21)
- Schedule constructed in a way that allows season to start as early as the weekend of Sept. 5, but also provides the ability to move the start of the season back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26 through strategic sequencing that allows games to be moved to a latter part of the schedule
- Big Ten Football Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19
- Teams can begin preseason practices on Friday, Aug. 7, or earlier if permitted under NCAA guidelines related to first dates of scheduled competition
Especially important of note is that fall camp is currently allowed for teams that meet NCAA guidelines as of this Friday.
Michigan State-Michigan Rotating Future Schedules
The Big Ten followed-up this afternoon with an explanation on the scheduling oddity many Spartan fans noticed right off the bat with swapping the home game against Michigan for a road game to that hole in the ground Crysler built. As I speculated above, it means that the often (justifiably) griped about home schedule issue MSU has faced since the move to East-West divisional alignment in 2014 caused will be rectified for good. That problem being that MSU would face both Ohio State and Michigan at home one season and both on the road the following. This would result in an unbalanced home slate that saw a significant dent in ticket revenue in seasons where only Penn State was the marquee home game for MSU with Michigan and Ohio State both on the road.
Big Ten spokesman Adam Augustine explained that three games in the east and three in the west - Michigan at Indiana, Michigan State at Michigan, Indiana at Michigan State, Nebraska at Purdue, Purdue at Wisconsin, and Wisconsin at Nebraska - had to be moved to balance both flexibility needed in scheduling and home-and-away slates. However, this creates an issue moving forward as MSU would seemingly face three seasons in a row in Ann Arbor and Indiana three seasons in a row in East Lansing. Rest assured, this was realized and corrected:
“Given the unique circumstances that went into this year’s scheduling process, flexibility in the schedule was prioritized. In order to create that flexibility while balancing out the five home and five away games for each institution, flipping the location of these six games proved particularly helpful . . . the rotation of these games in future seasons will be reset based on this year’s location.”
While this exacerbates the imbalanced history of the series against Michigan, it does solve an issue most of us, including myself, have griped about with the schedule. Moving forward, this means in 2021 MSU will only maintain six home games as they will travel to Indiana and host Michigan. 2022 will feature seven home games with a road trip to Michigan and home game against Indiana. 2023 will feature seven games including a back-to-back Michigan and Penn State games to open October following a bye week along with a road trip to Indiana to open November. Then so on for the Michigan and Indiana games in 2024 and 2025. The Big Ten has yet to schedule out for 2026 and beyond.
Now that that’s settled, there’s just beating the kakhi pants off those arrogant Wolverines this fall. So, with that in mind, LET’S GO GREEN!
P.S. Good a time as any to throw in this reminder: