As we all continue to grapple with the pandemic, the Big Ten released its conference-only football schedule for this Fall this morning:
Some quick observations:
1) The biggest rivalry game in the conference, Michigan vs. Ohio State, is no longer the last week of the regular season. Instead, it’s scheduled for Week 8, on October 24th. Fox and ESPN hold a draft for their shared Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12 rights, and this game is as big a domino as there is in that regard. It will be interesting to see if this game keeps its traditional noon eastern kickoff, or perhaps airs later in the day.
2) Wisconsin (which I’m an alum of) doesn’t play Penn State or Ohio State, which are the two best teams in the conference. Therefore, it would be a disaster of epic proportions if they do not make it to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.
3) Michigan has a really hard schedule. In addition to Ohio State, who they always lose to now, they have Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Northwestern. While they avoid Iowa and Nebraska, I wouldn’t bet on the Wolverines to win the conference.
4) The Big Ten announced that the title game is set for December 5th but could be played as late as December 19th. This means that, combined with the two byes per team, there are potentially four weekends of wiggle room to get the full schedule played if the September 5th kickoff needs to be delayed for the pandemic.
5) Every team in the conference has a bye week either Week 10 (November 7th) or Week 11 (November 14th). That seems like an indication that games that are missed could be made up in those windows.