After being one of the first conferences to make an adjustment to their game scheduling, the Big Ten has lagged behind with releasing its final changes to their 2020 schedule due to COVID-19. Just prior to the start of Big Ten training camp on August 7th, the Hoosiers finally know who they will be playing this season.
Each team will play in a 10-game conference-only schedule that begins Sept. 3 with Illinois vs. Ohio State. Indiana’s first game remains the same on Sept. 4 at Wisconsin. Overall, there is a significant number of changes throughout the schedule for the conference, but mainly adjustments to when teams face each other than the addition of one conference game against a team in the other half of the conference.
There is a lot more flexibility to scheduling as well now. This is to make necessary adjustments due to COVID-19’s impact on the upcoming season. A collective week off before the championship game will allow teams an opportunity to reschedule a game prior to the championship.
Indiana adds a game at Minnesota
The biggest change to Indiana’s schedule is the addition of a game at Minnesota on Oct. 10. The Hoosiers last played the Golden Gophers in 2018 in a close-fought road contest between Gopher quarterback Tanner Morgan and former Hoosier Peyton Ramsey. Ultimately, Minnesota pulled off the victory, securing their first conference win on a late 67-yard touchdown pass thus winning 38-31. Since 2018, both Minnesota and Indiana have been programs on the rise with Minnesota becoming one of the top teams in the conference.
Subjectively, Minnesota is likely more pleased with the addition than Indiana is. Minnesota could’ve been forced into another game against either Penn State or Ohio State, but a game against the Hoosiers at home is more favorable for their schedule; however, Indiana stands a great chance in pulling off the upset.
Behind quarterback Michael Penix Jr., Indiana stands a chance securing the victory especially coming off a bye week after a challenging start to the season. Assuming Penix stays healthy, the combination of him, running back Stevie Scott and wide receiver Whop Philyor will result in a high caliber offense to support an up-and-coming defense that had a strong season last year.
Indiana has a tough start to 2020’s season
The two teams with the toughest start to 2020 are Indiana and Minnesota. Indiana is now tasked to play at Wisconsin, home against Penn State and Illinois, and then at Ohio State in their first four games. Pulling off a 2-2 start will be considered a good start to the season with these four opponents coming in four consecutive weeks. This is a drastic change from the original plan to play three non-conference opponents after their grueling trip to Wisconsin.
The tail-end of the season is much more manageable after hosting Michigan. They host Maryland and are on the road against Rutgers and Michigan State. Indiana’s regular season finale against Purdue moved up a week to Nov. 21 and is after a second bye week. These four games should help the Hoosiers boost their chances at a bowl game push.
The schedule changes had a few missed opportunities for exciting matchups for Indiana. Facing Northwestern in a game between Penix and Ramsey would have been exciting to see. Additionally, adding Nebraska would have had a lot riding on the game after the upset last year in Lincoln. However, a game at Minnesota will be exciting in its own right with two teams rising through the conference.
Cover Photo: IndianaHQ/Brace Hemmelgarn