Predicting the Week 1 winners in revamped B1G schedule
Here we go again. And hopefully this time, we’re really going.
The Big Ten on Saturday released its 3rd edition of the 2020 schedule. The 2nd edition, if you’ll recall, was released Aug. 5 and scrapped just 6 days later.
The new schedule is 8 B1G-only games beginning Oct. 24, with an additional cross-division game during the new Big Ten Champions Week the weekend of December 19. Those matchups, which we also predicted, will be based on the division standings.
The Big Ten Conference announced today the schedule for the 2020 football season, including an eight-game Conference-only schedule starting the weekend of October 24 plus a ninth game for all 14 teams during a newly created Big Ten Champions Week the weekend of December 19. pic.twitter.com/jaDXMhh2C8
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) September 19, 2020
Since that is such a long way away, let’s drill into Week 1. There are a few very interesting opening-week matchups, including Michigan traveling to Minnesota and Penn State heading to Indiana. Here’s who will win each season-opener:
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Illinois at Wisconsin
Even without a packed house at Camp Randall, there’s no way Wisconsin is losing this one. Especially not after what happened last year, when the Illini spoiled the Badgers’ unbeaten season. The Badgers pitched shutouts in their first 2 games last season, and while I don’t think that will happen here, I think defense will rule the day as they transition past the Jonathan Taylor Era.
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Illinois 6
Iowa at Purdue
Doesn’t it seem like forever ago that we were talking about Kirk Ferentz, Tim Doyle and the inner workings of the Iowa football program? If there is any team that has benefitted from the recent chaos of the B1G, I think it’s Iowa. After a tumultuous offseason, I’m sure Iowa will like to give fans and media something else to talk about, like actual football. This game was close last year and in Spencer Petras’ starting debut, Iowa will take down an overmatched Purdue squad.
Prediction: Iowa 34, Purdue 24
Michigan at Minnesota
This is the most interesting game in the first weekend. It will be Joe Milton’s first start at quarterback for Michigan, and it will come against one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Tanner Morgan. It will be interesting to see if Minnesota star wideout Rashod Bateman and Michigan corner Ambry Thomas can get a waiver to return to their teams. In an unusual year, let’s hope the NCAA realizes that it needs to make some exceptions after the B1G jerked these kids around for 2 months. Either way, I’ll take the experience of Minnesota, especially considering Michigan has struggled on the road against ranked teams in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure.
Prediction: Minnesota 27, Michigan 24
Nebraska at Ohio State
It’s kind of fitting that the 2 teams that made the most noise during this whole saga get to square off in the opener. While Michigan and Minnesota will be the best game, I think this is the one the networks will want the most because of the passionate followings of both teams. We certainly saw that throughout the offseason. Put this in primetime because these fan bases deserve it – even if it looks like last year’s Ohio State demolition.
Prediction: Ohio State 48, Nebraska 14
Maryland at Northwestern
This game will be telling for Northwestern, which is expected to be one of the nation’s most improved teams. Do changes at offensive coordinator and quarterback mean a return to 2018, when the Wildcats won the West? Maryland always plays well early in the season (right, Texas?), so it wouldn’t be a total shocker if the Terps come out firing. But I still like the Wildcats showing a much different look than last season.
Prediction: Northwestern 24, Maryland 17
Penn State at Indiana
This is a game that Penn State absolutely has to win with Ohio State waiting in Week 2. And that’s why the Nittany Lions will prevail in a close one against an up-and-coming Hoosiers squad. Penn State will probably wish it had Micah Parsons to deal with Michael Penix Jr. and Stevie Scott III, but it will adjust and find a way. Remember, Penn State only beat Pitt by 7 in its 1st Power-5 game last season and then only beat Indiana by 7 later on, so any sort of a win is a big success. There will be plenty of chances later for some style points.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Indiana 28
Rutgers at Michigan State
While Michigan State and Rutgers look to be 2 of the worst teams in the Big Ten, this one is worth watching just to see Mel Tucker and Greg Schiano coaching their 1st games with their new teams. What adjustments will each make after difficult 2019 seasons? I’ll be watching Michigan State’s quarterback play, which needs to be fixed for the Spartans to return to prominence.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Rutgers 17