Big Ten releases conference-only football schedule
This year, the Wolverines won’t lose their ninth-straight game to Ohio State over Thanksgiving weekend.
In The Big Ten’s release of its conference-only, 10-game schedule, Michigan’s annual matchup against the Buckeyes is set to take place on Oct. 24 in Columbus. The move up follows the conference’s approach to the season: the earlier the better.
The season is intended to kick off on Sep. 5, where the Wolverines will take on Purdue at home, and finish on Nov. 21 for all teams in order to coordinate with schools’ schedules sending students home at Thanksgiving. The only game after the holiday will be the Big Ten championship, with that only involving two teams.
Beyond a date change, for the second year in a row, Michigan will play Michigan State in Ann Arbor. Without fans, playing at The Big House rather than Spartan Stadium packs less of a punch than it would in a normal year, but either way the Wolverines will not have to travel for their Oct. 3 faceoff.
The one Big Ten team that Michigan is slated to play that was not previously on its schedule is Northwestern. The game against the Wildcats takes place on Nov. 21 and is its final game of the season.
In order to begin on the season on the scheduled date, the conference is allowing teams to start practices this Friday, Aug. 7.
Still, the conference has expressed that flexibility is key.
“The 10 games would be played over at least 12 weeks with each team having two open dates,” The Big Ten said in its Wednesday morning release. “... Games can be collapsed into bye weeks. … (and 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.”
Michigan’s byes are in week six, the week of Oct. 11 between Michigan State and at Indiana, and week 11, between games against Maryland and at Northwestern. All teams have a uniform bye the week of Nov. 28, following the scheduled last game of the season. Still, despite built-in flexibility, the conference isn’t one-hundred percent sure their plan is failsafe.
“If the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols,” The Big Ten statement said, “we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition pursuant to local and state public health orders or the recommendations of our medical experts.”
So despite now having a schedule, as everyone should know by this point in the year, it all could change at any moment.
Michigan’s 2020 schedule:
Sep. 5 vs. Purdue
Sep. 12 @ Minnesota
Sep. 19 vs. Penn State
Sep. 26 @ Rutgers
Oct. 3 vs Michigan State
Oct. 11 BYE
Oct. 17 @ Indiana
Oct. 24 @ Ohio State
Oct. 31 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 7 vs. Maryland
Nov. 21 @ Northwestern