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Breaking Down the Big Ten Announcing it’s 2020 Football Schedule

Well here we are. The ten game schedule announced just this morning by the Big Ten as well as their plans for testing and trying to keep this virus at bay. 

The Big Ten was the first power five conference to announce that they were transitioning to a conference only schedule a few weeks ago and since then everyone has sort of adopted that same idea.

Now the Big Ten has announced it’s new schedule, which in the more I read about it, is pretty impressive and plenty of thought and preparation was put into this schedule.

Start Date September 5th

As it stands today, we are officially just a single month away from college football. The Big Ten kept it’s original start date of September 5th, (Sept. 4th for Indiana/Wisconsin). But they have also stated that they understand that the start of the season may need to be postponed and have worked plenty of fail safes into the schedule.

The season schedule looks like it’ll end about a week earlier than it usually does, on November 21st. The weekend before Thanksgiving. But this is to line up the football schedule with many schools new academic calendar where the fall semester is ending before Thanksgiving.

Training Camp

Fall camp for football teams starts in two days! Two freaking days! Teams will be allowed to hit the field on Friday, August 7th and begin preparing for their week one opponent. It’s crazy to think but wow college football is literally knocking on the door.

Bye Weeks

Usually bye weeks suck. Your team doesn’t get to play. So you’re stuck watching football all day, gambling on random games to try and recapture that same high. Ok so they’re like any other football weekend but still.

The Big Ten’s new schedule gives every single team two bye weeks during the season, as well as a conference wide, uniform bye week on Thanksgiving weekend. And while today that seemingly sucks, because Thanksgiving weekend is also usually rivalry weekend and uncle Larry who is a Michigan fan and your cousin, who still is paying off his student debt to THE Ohio State University always get into a shouting match.

But this year it’s necessary and needed. The bye weeks were designed not to help teams either regroup, recharge or rehabilitate injured players. But rather as open weeks for games that need rescheduling due to postponement.

There’s an emphasis of these weeks for usage of rivalry games. For example, as it stands right now, Ohio State and Michigan are scheduled to play on October 24th, weird I know, but say something happens and the game gets postponed. Both schools have an open week of November 14th and November 28th. Giving them two options to reschedule what is always such a critical game.

Big Ten Championship

As of right now, the Big Ten Championship is set for December 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis as usual. Although the conference and site have agreed that if need be, the game can be pushed back two weeks to December 19th.

Testing

All other fall sports have also have a start date of September 5th and they will require at least one test per week.

However for football, a high contact sport, the Big Ten is requiring at least two tests per week through a third party lab and must be done at least three days ahead of game day.

For those of you wondering throughout this entire blog, “Great they made a schedule, but there is no way they can get through all of this unscathed, the season will get shut down.”

May I introduce you to the University of Oklahoma, that since re-opening their doors to their players has been incredibly transparent about their testing but also have been incredibly efficient.

As a Nebraska fan, I have no problem saying that I do not like Oklahoma. But they deserve respect here. They have done a tremendous job in keeping their players and staff safe and should be the lead example for all schools heading into the fall.

And then of course you have the football “team” that is Rutgers.

I feel like this is the Spongebob, Krusty Krab Training episode. Oklahoma is Spongebob and then Rutgers is Squidward. Remember, nobody wants to be a Squidward.

Schedule Oddities

With the schedule being different this year let’s hit on some games that are suddenly interesting, or out of place this season.

9/12: Minnesota vs. Michigan

PJ Fleck gets an early test to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. And Jim Harbaugh gets an opportunity to claim a quality victory early in the season. Very rarely do you see the Little Brown Jug game for in September, but here we are.

10/24: Ohio State vs. Michigan

This is the biggest one obviously. Usually reserved for the final week of the regular season. A game played at noon when you’ve just made your third or fourth left over turkey sandwich of Thanksgiving weekend, is now suddenly thrown into the week before Halloween. My question with this is do they stick with tradition and play the game at noon, or do they switch it up and play it under the lights? Either way should still be a somewhat cold, grey sky afternoon that we in the Big Ten live for.

Halloween Upsets? 

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year. And depending on how superstitious, or “a little stitious” you are, it could lead to a wild weekend of upsets. I for one believe that weekend will be crazy. Don’t believe me? There will also be a full moon that night. Oh man will there be some wild stuff going down that Saturday. Here are some games that could get “spooky” for the favorites.

Maryland vs. Ohio State

Nebraska vs. Penn State

Illinois vs. Minnesota

Michigan State vs. Iowa

If I was a betting man, which I so totally am, I am hitting the underdogs hard that weekend. It’s going to get weird.

11/21: Ohio State vs. Iowa

The scheduled final week of the season doesn’t have too many fireworks to show for. Except for possibly this one. Ohio State we all imagine should be in the hunt for a conference title but perhaps there is a team like Penn State or Michigan needing help, come that final weekend. And Iowa is always a tough out. Kirk Ferentz always has his team playing tough in big games like this. And if you don’t remember the last time these two teams played each other… here is a refresher. (It did not go well for Ohio State).

Final Thoughts

I’m glad the Big Ten is setting the precedent for the rest of the power five conferences. This is a smart schedule with fail safes and thought really put into it. They want to assure that they play the big games like Ohio State and Michigan. And are doing this with the student athlete in mind. Not only with the testing but the Big Ten also stated that if a player wishes to opt out of this season due to their own personal concerns, then that player will still get to keep their scholarship and remain in good standing with the program. That is huge.

I don’t know if we will get the playing of the entire season. I know there are plenty of keyboard warriors out there today claiming “You won’t play this entire season, stop pretending!” To which I say enjoy your Facebook rant and arguments about the pandemic and politics. The rest of us will sit back and enjoy some college football you loser.

If you want more opinions and coverage on this matter, listen to my podcast Verbally Committed which you can find right here on Couch Guy Sports. We will be discussing this update, this week so be sure to tune in and listen to previous episodes as well.

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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@PodVerbalCommit)

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