Here are five takeaways from the Big Ten’s schedule release for the 2021 season.

Dublin game still on

Good news for Big Ten fans overseas: Illinois-Nebraska in Dublin, Ireland, is still on. The Illini and Huskers are still scheduled to kick off the 2021 college football season during Week 0 in Dublin. Hopefully COVID-19 is behind us by August and this game can still take place as it was intended. 

Nebraska has a tough road ahead

Nebraska’s 2021 schedule starts off in brutal fashion. The Huskers first three games are comprised of Illinois in Ireland, a frisky Buffalo squad and a road game against an Oklahoma team that figures to be preseason top-5. 

Once conference play gets going again, it doesn’t get any easier. After facing the Sooners, the Huskers turn around and play at Michigan State, vs. Northwestern and vs. Michigan in successive weeks. 

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If Nebraska wants to avoid another disastrous start, it will need to take care of business vs Buffalo and Illinois and hope to pull off an upset or two in those other four games. Unfortunately it won’t get much easier for the Huskers, as they’ll still have to play Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa in the last half of their schedule. 

Ohio State eases into things

Meanwhile, Ohio State will be able to ease into its schedule. The Buckeyes play Minnesota in Week 1 to open the year and then have a nonconference slate with Oregon, Tulsa and Akron. 

The Ducks will be tough, but that might be the only ranked team Ohio State has to face until it meets Penn State on Oct. 30. There’s a potential for Ohio State to start out 7-0 before it meets a ranked conference opponent — you can’t ask for much better than that. 

Michigan’s post-BYE is notable

Michigan’s schedule becomes very difficult after its BYE week on Oct. 16. The Wolverines are set to face Northwestern, Michigan State, Indiana, Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State in the second half of the season. 

There’s potential for all six of those teams to be ranked, although the Terps and Spartans would need to make a substantial leap to get there. It will be interesting to see how Michigan handles that stretch of games after a relatively manageable start to the year. 

Iowa’s slate looks manageable 

From top to bottom, Iowa’s schedule appears to set up the Hawkeyes for a big year in 2021. Iowa doesn’t have to face Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State. It’s only game vs. a Big Ten East giant is Penn State, which comes at home and is sandwiched between Maryland and Purdue. That’s doable. 

Iowa does have to face Minnesota and Northwestern on the road, but it ends the year with Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska. If Iowa can get past the Gophers and Wildcats, it should cruise to a Big Ten West crown. 

Here’s the full slate: