The 7 games the B1G should add to the 2020 schedule
There is mass chaos in college football, and well, almost every aspect of life right now. The Big Ten, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is only playing conference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While that makes for a major inconvenience to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and his staff, it makes for some fun speculation for us.
Let’s say the Big Ten decides to go with a 10-game conference schedule and elects to add 1 game to its current 9-game league slate. What should that 10th game look like?
First, I think it’s important that the Big Ten get creative and flexible when designing the schedule. Maybe it leaves that 10th game open for now to see which teams are available on certain weeks.
But for the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume the Big Ten will come out with a traditional schedule. One thing we can assume is that the East Division will be on the road since those teams each have 5 home games, while the West Division only has 4. But what should the matchups be?
(Sidenote: If we get to the final week of the season in the fall to where this game is even being played, we should all be elated.)
Here is what that extra week should look like, starting with what I think are the juiciest matchups and working down to the least appetizing:
1. Ohio State at Minnesota
This is a slam dunk. Minnesota did not get its shot at Ohio State in its breakthrough 2019 season and it isn’t on the schedule this year. The Golden Gophers should contend in the West with Tanner Morgan and Rashod Bateman, and Ohio State is a national title contender again. Morgan and Justin Fields would be a matchup of 2 of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Minnesota has proven it can play with some of the elite programs in beating Penn State and Auburn in 2019, but Ohio State is a different level. The Golden Gophers have lost 11 consecutive and 27 of 28 matchups to the Buckeyes dating to 1982.
Ohio State and Minnesota are slated to open the 2021 season in Minneapolis, but that wouldn’t include the likes of Fields and Bateman — likely 2 of the most exciting players in the country this season — since they will be in the NFL by then. Let’s see the matchup in 2020.
2. Penn State at Wisconsin
These are always 2 of the top teams in the Big Ten, yet they have met in the regular season just once since 2013. It would certainly be fun to have a rematch of the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game.
Both teams should be good again in 2020, with Penn State as a potential College Football Playoff contender and Wisconsin as its typical threat to win the West.
Like Ohio State and Minnesota, these teams are slated to open the 2021 season against each other at Camp Randall, but who cares? It won’t be the same without fans, anyways.
3. Michigan at Nebraska
Two storied programs with a combined 16 national titles would be a ratings boon for networks starved for missing revenue in a shortened season. While Nebraska is in the midst of a rebuild and would probably be a double-digit underdog, there would a ton of interest from 2 of the most passionate fan bases in the country. The teams have met just once since 2013 and are slated to play in Lincoln in 2021.
4. Indiana at Iowa
From 2005-2015, these teams matched up 10 times. But they’ve played just once since. This would be a great year as Indiana looks like it will be a bowl team again, provided star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. can stay healthy. It would certainly be fun watching Penix go at a top-5 defense from 2019.
5. Michigan State at Purdue
The Boilermakers should be vastly improved and thus have a chance to end an 8-game losing streak to the Spartans, who will be rebuilding under first-year head coach Mel Tucker. Jeff Brohm’s aggressive offense against a longtime defensive coordinator in Tucker would be extremely entertaining. Though Michigan State’s offense and Purdue’s defense might be among the worst units in the conference and be a bit of a drag, that’s why the remote was invented.
6. Maryland at Illinois
These teams have met just once on the gridiron and combined for 96 points in 2018, so why not run it back?
7. Rutgers at Northwestern
Someone has to play Rutgers, so may as well make it the worst team in West in 2019.