The Big Ten has officially unveiled its third edition of the 2020 conference schedule. After the announcement on Wednesday this week that the conference would begin the fall season Oct. 23, comments made by the Purdue Athletic Director indicated the latest iteration of a schedule would be based on the original nine game conference schedule for 2020.
The difference in scheduled games resulted in a cross-over division opponent being dropped for each team. Nebraska’s AD Bill Moos also made clear the schedule would be balanced for home-and-away games between divisions, whereas in typical even number years conference schedules have five home games for east teams, but only four for west teams.
Given these clues we could get a good idea that the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in East Lansing was getting cut from the schedule, while the home game against Northwestern and the road game at Iowa were being kept. Additionally, the road game at the Nebraska Cornhuskers added to the ten game schedule released in August was nixed as well.
Additionally, the 10-game schedule unveiled in August flipped Michigan and Indiana games for location. The Spartans were scheduled to make a second straight trip to Michigan, while the Hoosiers would do the same to East Lansing. This was done in part to add flexibility to the Big Ten schedule, and in part for the added benefit of providing a more balanced home schedule moving forward. That is being continued with this latest schedule.
October 24: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
October 31: at Michigan Wolverines
November 7: at Iowa Hawkeyes
November 14: Indiana Hoosiers
November 21: at Maryland Terrapins
November 28: Northwestern Wildcats
December 5: Ohio State Buckeyes
December 12: at Penn State Nittany Lions
December 19: Championship Weekend, Opponent TBD
football schedule pic.twitter.com/ltWfqQ0FcK— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) September 19, 2020
The conferece also noted that “special date games, including Fridays, will be determined and announced at a later date.” So there may still be pending changes to the schedule in the future.
The conference is planning for a ninth game by having a “Championship Weekend” in which it intends to pit cross division opponents against each other based on seeding. The games will also factor in avoiding repeat opponents, per sources. Games will be played earlier in the Saturday leading up to the conference title game between the winners of each division. I am not a fan of using the model moving forward, but it is one way of guaranteeing nine games for every school not playing in the title game at least.
As for the new schedule, three road games in the first five? That will be rough. Opening against Rutgers is as good as it gets, but there are no real breaks in this short schedule. Thus is life in the Big Ten East, however. No fans in Ann Arbor, but ideally a full Spartan Stadium for Michigan in 2021 is a nice trade off, even if it should be making Michigan repeat East Lansing again to better balance the series history.