It’s been nearly two months since the Iowa Hawkeyes took to the field after COVID-19 cut short both their Big Ten season and any hopes of a bowl game. Now, Hawkeye fans have hope for a full season come 2021.
On Friday, the Big Ten released a revised schedule for the upcoming season with individual teams also releasing their full schedules, including non-conference matchups. We’re officially 210 days from kickoff inside Kinnick Stadium.
While the schedule is updated, the teams on it remain unchanged. In the non-conference, Iowa will take on Iowa State, Kent State and Colorado State. Those opponents will be played in that order.
But in breaking from tradition, the 2021 season will start with a home matchup against Indiana as originally scheduled. Then it’s the three straight non-conference games before the meet of the conference slate begins.
This is where things have been shaken up a bit. As noted, the teams and locations remain unchanged, but the order is quite a bit different.
Originally, Iowa was set to play at Northwestern following the matchup with Colorado State. Then it was home against Penn State, at Maryland, vs Purdue, at Nebraska, vs Minnesota and vs Illinois before finishing the regular season at Wisconsin. The bye was scheduled between the matchup with Penn State and the trip to Maryland on October 16th.
Now, Iowa is at Maryland after the non-conference slate concludes. Then they return home for dates with Penn State and Purdue before taking a bye a week later than originally scheduled on October 23rd. That comes at a critical juncture in the season, just before Iowa now travels to Wisconsin. Then it’s a trip to Northwestern before a home stretch against Minnesota and Illinois. The season now ends on Black Friday with a trip to Nebraska.
Beyond Iowa and their early season tests against Indiana and Iowa State, the Big Ten schedule across the board looks a bit different. Ten of the league’s 14 teams will be starting their season with conference matchups. Illinois and Nebraska will start the season a week early with a week 0 showdown.
Here’s a look at the full conference slate.
A few observations:
- Wisconsin may have been down in 2020, but that schedule sure shapes up nicely for them in 2021. They get Michigan and Penn State as their crossover opponents, both at home. They also get Iowa and Northwestern in the West at home.
- Minnesota starting off their season against Ohio State is likely to provide some quality schadenfreude.
- Nebraska not only gets Ohio State again this season, but they have a road trip to Oklahoma in the non-conference. Things are sure to be just fine in Lincoln.
- Indiana has a lot coming back, but they don’t get many scheduling favors with road trips to Iowa and Purdue in the crossover games and trips to Penn State and Michigan in the East.
As wild as 2020 was, we could be in for plenty more craziness in 2021. While COVID-19 remains a significant issue throughout the country, we have a vaccine rollout in full swing. Could that mean the return of fans in Big Ten stadiums this fall? If not, how many Iowa fans will be buying Iowa State season tickets to see Iowa in person? Will we get through a full season at all? Buckle up, it’s going to be another wild ride.