The same day that UConn became the first major college football program to cancel its 2020 fall season, the Big Ten released their re-arranged schedule for the 2020 season. Optimism abounds! As previously reported, Big Ten teams are set to play 10 regular season games this year, with all 10 games coming against conference opponents.
Here's what the new schedule looks like:
For Iowa it looks like this:
9/12: at Purdue
9/19: at Minnesota
10/10: at Illinois
10/24: at Penn State
10/31: Michigan State
11/21: at Ohio State
The schedule includes the same nine Big Ten opponents that Iowa was originally scheduled to play, plus one additional crossover opponent from the Big Ten East -- Maryland, in this case. The home/away statues of the games hasn't changed, either; Iowa was scheduled to go to Penn State and Ohio State in 2020 on their pre-pandemic schedule and they're still slated to make those road trips this season.
The order of games has been dramatically rearranged, though, with only the 9/19 game against Minnesota happening during the same week that it was originally scheduled. The biggest shake-ups are moving the Nebraska game into September and splitting up Iowa's scheduled back-to-back road trips to Penn State and Ohio State in early October. (The biggest shake-up league-wide is moving Michigan-Ohio State off its traditional end-of-season perch to a Saturday in late October.)
Iowa's schedule is front-loaded with divisional opponents -- after an opener against non-divisional Maryland, they play five straight Big Ten West opponents -- but that isn't necessarily the norm across the league. Northwestern, for instance, is set to play three Big Ten East opponents in their first five games. That front half of Iowa's schedule is certainly looks easier than the back-half, which includes trips to Penn State and Ohio State (now at least separated by four weeks rather than back-to-back) as well as a visit from perennial Big Ten West favorite (and Iowa nemesis) Wisconsin in the season's penultimate game.
For you trivia aficionados, Iowa is set to start the season against a Big Ten opponent for the first time since 1980 (when they played Indiana). They're also set to end the season against Ohio State for the first time in 60 years. As Scott Dochterman noted at The Athletic ($), Iowa's final Big Ten game was against Ohio State from 1955-1960, a time when both teams regularly battled for supremacy atop the Big Ten (they split those six games evenly).
Ultimately, there's a very good chance that this schedule release is just an exercise in make-believe and giving us a season to hypothetically play out (time to fire up NCAA FOOTBALL '14!). Will the season actually get played? The Big Ten has created a schedule with a considerable amount of flexibility -- in addition to two bye weeks for every team there's an additional open week on 11/29 and the possibility of moving the Big Ten Championship Game (currently set for 12/5) back if needed -- and yet that will probably still be for naught in the face of a pandemic that shows few signs of abating in the near future and will likely get even worse as university campuses re-open to students. But there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, so the Big Ten is damn sure going to try and play out the season, ethical and public health considerations be damned. Now we know who Iowa is scheduled to play if these games end up happening.