Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God, I don’t know but today seems kinda odd. Yes, I find myself singing “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube on this fine fall morning, because the Big Ten is officially back. It’s been a long, grueling journey for the players, the families, the coaches, and the fans, but as of today we are playing a Big Ten season starting October 24th.
Still though, 2020 has been a brutal beast, and with the return of Big Ten football comes a whole host of questions. The first two weeks of college football has not be the prettiest around the country, and it’s fair to say that these hiccups will continue to happen. One of those questions is of course who will the Badgers be playing this fall. While we’ll probably have the answers soon enough, we can speculate, and update as the news continues to roll out.
You love to see it pic.twitter.com/snRBib7Ay5— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 16, 2020
As for the parameters the Big Ten is planning an eight-game schedule, with a unique take on the championship game, but more on that later. Let’s start with the original eight games. Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Nebraska and Iowa will be on the schedule in some form. In the original schedule Wisconsin was scheduled to be at home against Minnesota, Illinois, and Nebraska and on the road for Purdue, Northwestern, and Iowa.
For future schedule’s sake, I would venture to guess that the scheduling committee is hoping to have these games stay as close to the same as possible. In the second release that was scrapped there were some changes to those, but this third release with less games may make it more possible to stick with the original plan within the division.
The two crossover games are ones that will be very interesting to find out. In the original schedule the Badgers were slated to take on Indiana at home, Michigan on the road, and Maryland on the road. In the second release, Wisconsin kept those three games and added a fourth crossover game with Rutgers at home. Of course flexibility is key to making this season happen, but it seems like based on the second schedule, that the committee is hoping to keep as many of these games the same as possible. With only an eight game season, two of those will be scrapped by default, one presumably being Rutgers which was the 10th game add on.
Of course we don’t have anything to go off on this other than our minds, but if I were a betting man (and you guys know I am) I would bet that the Badgers take on two of the three between Michigan, Maryland, and Indiana. With Indiana not on the Badgers schedule again until 2023, I think that one may be more pressing than the others. Wisconsin plays Michigan again in 2021, and Maryland in 2022.
Following the eight game schedule, the Big Ten has decided to implement an interesting wrinkle to Championship weekend. Not only will the division winners battle for the Big Ten title, but the rest of the teams will also be in action. According to Barry Alvarez on the Big Ten Network, in addition to the title game the teams that finish 2-7 in their divisions will also play the team that finished in the same position from the other division. For example, the runner up in the East will take on the runner up in the West. The third place team in the East will take on the third place team in the West and so on and so fourth.
That is different than normal, but an interesting wrinkle to allow the teams to play an additional game to help boost their resume before the college football bowl series and playoff. Not only are the teams getting a ninth game, but their also getting a cross division game against a team that had similar results all season long which should provide a fun finish for the conference.