What should IU, Purdue make of Round 3 of Big Ten schedule? Here's a breakdown
While Nebraska was cursing the Big Ten schedule-makers, fellow West Division member Purdue was rejoicing.
The Boilermakers got a reprieve in the re-re-release of the Big Ten schedule, a chance to get off to a much-needed strong start and perhaps bounce back to a .500 or better season.
Meanwhile, the Boilermakers’ rival to the south — Purdue will still face Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket — is feeling the same as always; the Big Ten East offers few breaks, and a trip to Madison to face Wisconsin as the 2nd crossover game is a challenge.
Following is a breakdown of Purdue and IU’s schedules, in terms of what they’d need to do to finish in the top halves of their respective divisions.
The Boilermakers’ second Big Ten schedule, the one that was nuked 6 days, included an opener at Michigan, followed by home games vs. Iowa and Ohio State.
Well, now the Wolverines and Buckeyes are off the known 8-game schedule entirely, with Purdue instead getting a crossover visit from Rutgers, an East bottom-feeder, in addition to its rivalry game against IU.
And while the Hawkeyes are a challenge in the season-opener the weekend of Oct. 24, the first half of the schedule provides Purdue a chance for a better start, something that’s not been common in Jeff Brohm’s first 3 years in West Lafayette.
Must-haves: at Illinois (Oct. 31); vs. Northwestern (Nov. 14); vs. Rutgers (Nov. 28), vs. Nebraska (Dec. 5)
Toss-ups: vs. Iowa (Oct. 24); at Indiana (Dec. 12)
Good Luck: at Wisconsin (Nov. 7); at Minnesota (Nov. 21)
— Purdue Football (@BoilerFootball) September 19, 2020
That Purdue could be a favorite in 4 of its 8 games seems like a minor victory. Whether that actually comes to fruition might come down to whether Rondale Moore opts back in — the All-America wide receiver previously chose to sit out 2020, but has been contacted by Brohm on a possible return — a decision that should come, one would expect, within the next couple of weeks.
But if Purdue is to get to .500 this season or compete in the West, those 2 road games at Wisconsin and at Minnesota will be the deciders.
The Hoosiers aren’t going to avoid the trip to Wisconsin, a difficult cross-division road trip up to Camp Randall.
The game was part of the first 2 iterations of IU’s 2020 schedule, although then it was as the season-opener. Now, the Hoosiers travel to Madison in Week 7 before closing the season against Purdue.
As for the rest of the East slate, there’s not a lot of breaks to be had, but the Hoosiers do get 2 of their 4 road games at Rutgers and at Michigan State, probably lesser of the road venues.
Must-haves: at Rutgers (Oct. 31); vs. Maryland (Nov. 28)
Toss-ups: vs. Penn State (Oct 24); at Michigan State (Nov. 14); vs. Purdue (Dec. 12)
Good Luck: vs. Michigan (Nov. 7); at Ohio State (Nov. 21); at Wisconsin (Dec. 5)
— Indiana Football (@IndianaFootball) September 19, 2020
Putting the Nittany Lions as a toss-up might be generous, considering the visitors are likely to be a touchdown favorite in Memorable Stadium. But the Hoosiers have had a tendency to play up in at least a home game per season, and perhaps this season’s delayed opener is a good time to not only do so, but to earn the surprise victory.
To finish .500, which would be a solid accomplishment in a B1G-East heavy schedule. The Hoosiers are likely going to have to win more than 1 game as an underdog; they’ll be the likely underdog in 4 of the first 5 games, the exception being the Halloween trip to Piscataway.