On Wednesday morning, the Big Ten Conference announced their new, conference-only schedule on Big Ten Network. Every conference in the country has been scrambling to make their schedules more compact due to the global pandemic that the country is still in the throes of.
The B1G season will now start on September 5th, each team will have three bye weeks (with one league-wide one at the end of November) and the season will end in Indianapolis for the B1G Title game on December 5th.
Per a B1G press release, however: “[the] schedule is constructed in a way that allows season to start as early as the weekend of Sept. 5, but also provides the ability to move the start of the season back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26 through strategic sequencing that allows games to be moved to a latter part of the schedule.”
The release also notes that “teams can begin preseason practices on Friday, Aug. 7, or earlier if permitted under NCAA guidelines related to first dates of scheduled competition.”
The new quirks of the Wisconsin Badgers schedule, outside of, well, not playing any non-conference games, are that they play at Nebraska again (instead of at home like the original schedule said) and they add Rutgers as a divisional crossover opponent. If we are keeping it a buck, I think that everyone will take that trade.
In case you can’t see the image of the schedule, here is Wisconsin’s schedule:
9/4 (Friday) Indiana
9/12 @ Northwestern
9/19 @ Nebraska
10/3 @ Maryland
10/31 @ Michigan
11/14 @ Iowa
12/5 B1G Title game
The Badgers, who are widely predicted to win the B1G West, have a pretty easy schedule, all things considered. Wisconsin’s opponent record last season was 36-54 (.400), the lowest opponent winning percentage for any team in the conference. Thanks, Rutgers!
The start of the season can be delayed if needed, and the back end of the schedule is not set in stone. All 14 schools have an open week on Nov. 28, and though the Big Ten title game is currently set for Dec. 5, it can move back to either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19 if needed. That allows for up to three Saturdays in which to make up games after Nov. 21.
All 21 East Division games can be rescheduled on at least one date, and 13 of 21 West Division games can be rescheduled on at least one date. The scheduling matrix is the brainchild of scheduling guru Kevin Pauga.
A few other games of note: Michigan at Ohio State on Oct. 24th, Ohio State at Penn State on Nov. 7th, Iowa at Minnesota on Sept. 19th and Indiana at Rutgers on Oct. 31st.
Obviously, all of this discussion of a new schedule is predicated on the fact that the games will even be played at all. The B1G, to that note, released a bunch of new medical and safety protocols.
“Currently required testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as outlined in the testing protocol, is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Testing frequency is based on the level of contact risk within each sport and is required for student-athletes, as well as coaches and staff depending upon exposure to the student-athletes. Sports that have a high risk of contact will have a minimum of two PCR surveillance tests per week during the competitive season. All other sports will have a minimum of one PCR surveillance test per week. Additional weekly testing requirements and alternative testing methods will be implemented and administered by the Conference or institutions this fall as sufficient data to support use develops.”
We will keep you updated as this developing situation, uh, continues to develop.