Predicting when every B1G team will lose its first game
The excitement is definitely building after the Big Ten released the third (and hopefully final) edition of the 2020 schedule.
Assuming every team is able to play Week 1 (fingers crossed), we know that 7 teams will start the season with a loss. How long will those 7 winners make it without a loss?
Entering Week 8 of 2019, the Big Ten had 4 undefeated teams (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Penn State). I don’t think that’s realistic to expect in 2020, especially considering there are no nonconference games to help ease into the season. Some very good teams, like Penn State and Ohio State, will be tested immediately; they play each other in Week 2.
This is when I think the 7 Week 1 winners will lose their first game:
Michigan State: Week 2 at Michigan
It’s hard to find sure wins on Michigan State’s schedule – except the opener at Rutgers. And frankly, that’s great for the Spartans to have some good vibes early because it’s going to get rough, starting with Week 2 against Michigan. The Wolverines have way too much talent and should have no problem winning this rivalry game at the Big House. And that’s especially true if Michigan loses its opener at Minnesota, which I suspect will happen.
Northwestern: Week 2 at Iowa
Like Michigan State, it will be nice for the Wildcats to ease into 2020 with a new starting quarterback in Peyton Ramsey and a retooled offense under offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian. They’ll take care of Maryland in Week 1. Yet going against an Iowa defense that is annually one of the best in the B1G (and country) will prove to be a bit too much in Week 2.
Penn State: Week 2 vs. Ohio State
Will we know the winner of the East Division by Week 2? That’s a strange thought, but it’s probably true. And that East winner will be Ohio State. The Buckeyes haven’t gone through all of this just to see their national title hopes die in Week 2. Justin Fields is playing, Wyatt Davis and Shaun Wade have opted back in, and all of a sudden, Ohio State is a national title contender once again. As if Ohio State didn’t have a big enough talent gap, Penn State lost Micah Parsons to the NFL Draft. It’s unfortunate for the Nittany Lions, who are stacked and good enough to contend for the Big Ten title. They will have to settle for the Rose Bowl.
Iowa: Week 4 at Minnesota
Iowa could get off to a nice start in 2020, but the middle of November will be difficult with trips to Minnesota and Penn State. The Golden Gophers should be one of the Big Ten’s best teams again, and if Tanner Morgan gets hot (and if Rashod Bateman plays), I’m not sure the Hawkeyes have the firepower just yet with new starting QB Spencer Petras.
Wisconsin: Week 4 at Michigan
If you would have told me Wisconsin’s first loss of 2019 would have come at Illinois, I wouldn’t have believed you. This season, I think the Badgers’ first loss will be a bit more predictable. I know, I know – Wisconsin manhandled Michigan last season. But Michigan doesn’t have to deal with Jonathan Taylor this season. And this game will be in Ann Arbor, which should still be enough of an advantage.
Minnesota: Week 6 at Wisconsin
The Golden Gophers couldn’t handle Wisconsin in their dream season, and they won’t be able to in 2020, either. Even without fans at Camp Randall, Wisconsin will be tough to beat. It should have found its footing offensively without Jonathan Taylor, and that defense could be downright special. I think this game will decide the West.
Ohio State: NA
That’s right, Ohio State isn’t losing this season. I said it. The Buckeyes arguably have the most talented roster in the country, and they probably would have still made the College Football Playoff without Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis. Now that those 2 potential 1st-round picks are back, Ohio State is on a mission. Justin Fields didn’t go through all this trouble to get the Big Ten to have a season to not go all out and make this season one to remember.
This was always going to be a special season after a crushing loss to Clemson in the CFP. And now, after everything Ohio State has been through, it’s all lining up perfectly for Ohio State to get its shot at revenge and erase the memory of 2019.