5 takeaways from the B1G's (latest) schedule release
You know what they say, the third time is the charm.
The B1G and its fans are hoping that’s the case, as the conference released a revised schedule for the 2020 season on Saturday morning. It’s just the second revision to the 2020 schedule, but it would be the third slate each team has published, going back to the initial schedules each team had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each team will play eight games this season — six division games with two cross-division contests. The B1G will end the year with “Champions Week,” where opponents will be matched up based on order of finish in each division (No. 1 East vs. No. 1 West, No. 2 East vs. No. 2 West, etc.).
There are a few quick takeaways from Saturday’s schedule release from the B1G:
The B1G dropped the hammer on Nebraska
Let’s be honest, Nebraska was a bit of a headache (in a good way) to the B1G when the conference made its decision to postpone the season back on Aug. 11. Rather than pop a few ibuprofen and move on with life, it appears that the scheduling committee wanted to send a message to the Huskers.
Nebraska is opening the 2020 season against Ohio State in Columbus (Oct. 24) — it doesn’t get any more daunting than that. But wait, there’s more. The Huskers will also play Penn State (Nov. 14) in its second cross-over game. Those two teams combined for a 24-3 record last season, by the way.
Scott Frost’s third year in Lincoln just got a lot more challenging. And yes, before you ask, Nebraska is the only B1G West team to play two of the three B1G East powers (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan) this season. So, have fun with that, Huskers.
Michigan got the toughest draw in the East
While we’re talking about tough draws, Michigan won’t be sending the B1G scheduling committee a Christmas card this holiday season, either. The Wolverines are opening up the season against Minnesota (Oct. 24) and will play Wisconsin on Nov. 14 to round out the cross-division schedule.
Sandwiched between the Gophers and Badgers is Michigan State and Indiana, neither of which will be easy victories. For a team replacing its starting quarterback, nearly its entire offensive line and needing to find answers at wide receiver, those first four games are sneakily difficult for Jim Harbaugh’s bunch.
Could it be tougher? Absolutely. But the first four weeks for the Wolverines will not be a walk in the park.
Life is good for Purdue and Northwestern
Everyone in the B1G is celebrated a new schedule on Saturday, signaling the return of football season. But there may not be anyone happier than Jeff Brohm and Pat Fitzgerald when they saw their respective schedules for the 2020 season. Particularly the cross-division games.
Purdue will play Rutgers on Nov. 28 before closing out the regular season against rival Indiana on Dec. 12. Northwestern opens the year against Maryland (Oct. 24) and will travel to Michigan State on Nov. 28. That’s right, both the Boilers and the Wildcats are avoiding Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan from the East.
Neither team made a bowl games in 2019, with Purdue finishing 4-8 and Northwestern ending 3-9. Perhaps those poor performances from last fall translated into a favorable schedule in 2020.
We may know the B1G East winner by Week 2
Mark the calendar for Halloween night. Why? The most anticipated showdown in the B1G is scheduled for the spookiest day of the year. And the winner might be treated to an early B1G East title.
Penn State will host Ohio State on Oct. 31, the premier matchup in the B1G East this season. The Buckeyes are easily the favorite to win the B1G again in 2020 while the Nittany Lions are considered to be the biggest challenger. That matchup gives both teams some early motivation during “fall camp.”
It’s awfully fitting that the biggest game of the season will be played on Halloween night this year, too. Because with no fans in attendance at Beaver Stadium for a White Out game against the Buckeyes, the game is going to have an eerie feeling.
Rivalry Week is back on
When the B1G initially released its revised, 10-game conference schedule back in early August, it essentially scrapped Rivalry Week. The focus was to schedule key games earlier in the year, allowing more opportunities for make-up dates if contests were postponed. The only traditional rivalry game scheduled for the final week was Indiana-Purdue.
The B1G has reinstated Rivalry Week with the latest schedule, though. December 12 will serve as the final regular season weekend of the year before the 2020 campaign comes to a close with “Champions Week.”
It’s still going to be a little bit different knowing that rivalry games aren’t being played on Thanksgiving weekend, but at least we’ll get that glorious “Hate Week” feel back with B1G football.