The Big Ten released the conference football schedules for the 2020 and 2021 seasons on Tuesday afternoon. For the first time since 1982, Wisconsin will open a season against a Big Ten opponent.
The Badgers will play Indiana on Sept. 5, 2020, at Camp Randall Stadium, and the following year Penn State will visit Madison on Sept. 4, 2021, for another Week 1 conference match-up.
Wisconsin’s 2020 schedule also includes home games against Minnesota (Oct. 10), Illinois (Oct. 31), and Nebraska (Nov. 21). The Badgers will hit the road to face Michigan (Sept. 26), Maryland (Oct. 24), Northwestern (Nov. 7), Purdue (Nov. 14), and Iowa (Nov. 28). Wisconsin also has non-conference home games scheduled against Syracuse (Sept. 12) and Southern Illinois (Sept. 19), along with the recently announced match-up with Notre Dame (Oct. 3) at Lambeau Field.
The 2021 schedule features home games against the aforementioned Nittany Lions (Sept. 4) in Week 1, Michigan (Oct. 2), Army (Oct. 16), Northwestern (Oct. 30), Purdue (Nov. 13), and Iowa (Nov. 27). The Badgers will play on the road against Syracuse on Sept. 11, along with conference foes Minnesota (Oct. 9), Illinois (Oct. 23), Rutgers (Nov. 6), and Nebraska (Nov. 20). Wisconsin will also face Notre Dame on Sept. 25 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Aside from opening both seasons against Big Ten teams, the biggest news to be gathered from these schedule announcements is the fact that the Badgers will no longer play Minnesota for Paul Bunyan’s Axe on the final week of the regular season. Instead, Wisconsin will face West division rival Iowa in the regular-season finale in 2020 and 2021. Since the Big Ten went to West and East divisions in 2014, the Badgers and Golden Gophers have played every year in the final regular-season game. It remains to be seen why the conference made this change, but it is worth noting the battle for the Heartland Trophy has been significantly more competitive than the Badgers’ annual game with the Gophers in recent years.
On paper, the 2020 schedule appears to be slightly more favorable than the 2021 slate. The cross-divisional games in 2020 (Indiana, Michigan, Maryland) appear easier than the 2021 East division opponents in Penn State, Michigan, and Rutgers. The Badgers also get the luxury of playing a virtual home game at Lambeau Field vs. Notre Dame in 2020, as opposed to the Soldier Field match-up against the Fighting Irish in 2021.
Wisconsin 2020 Schedule
Sept. 5: vs. Indiana Sept. 12: vs. Syracuse Sept. 19: vs. Southern Illinois Sept. 26: at Michigan Oct. 3: vs. Notre Dame (Lambeau Field) Oct. 10: vs. Minnesota Oct. 24: at Maryland Oct. 31: vs. Illinois Nov. 7: at Northwestern Nov. 14: at Purdue Nov. 21: vs. Nebraska Nov. 28: at Iowa
Wisconsin 2021 Schedule
Sept. 4: vs. Penn State Sept. 11: at Syracuse Sept. 25: vs. Notre Dame (Soldier Field) Oct. 2: vs. Michigan Oct. 9: at Minnesota Oct. 16: vs. Army Oct. 23: at Illinois Oct. 30: vs. Northwestern Nov. 6: at Rutgers Nov. 13: vs. Purdue Nov. 20: at Nebraska Nov. 27: vs. Iowa