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Big Ten season will start on time, full schedule released

The Big Ten's conference-only season will begin on time.

After becoming the first conference to announce it will play a conference-only season, way back on July 9, the Big Ten did not release any further details at all until Wednesday, when it announced at 8 a.m. ET that it would drop the full schedule -- not only the beginning and end dates, but a full matchup of opponents -- at 9:45.

Unlike other leagues, the Big Ten will begin as scheduled on the weekend of Sept. 5, giving the league more time to absorb anticipated disruptions as they develop.

The schedule will also conclude as originally planned, on Dec. 5 with the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.

Each team will play all six opponents from its division, plus four from the opposite division -- a 1-game increase from a typical season.

The Sept. 5 start gives every team three off weeks; the entire East Division will take Nov. 14 off, and the entire conference will not play on Nov. 28.

The league-wide off date on Nov. 28 necessitated pushing rivalry games forward, and that they did:

-- Michigan-Ohio State moves to Oct. 24.
-- Nebraska-Iowa moves to Sept. 26
-- Northwestern-Illinois moves to Oct. 17
-- Minnesota-Wisconsin moves to Sept. 26
-- Purdue-Indiana moves to Nov. 21

A number of teams also share common off weeks. For instance, Michigan-Michigan State and Rutgers-Penn State are scheduled for Oct. 3, but all four teams are off Oct. 10. Ohio State-Illinois could be pushed back from Sept. 3 to Oct. 3, and Iowa-Nebraska could move from Sept. 26 to Oct. 17.

Additionally, all games played on the final weekend of the regular season -- Nov. 21 -- are cross-divisional games, meaning the conference could cancel those games if necessary without affecting divisional races.

The season will officially begin Thursday, Sept. 3, with Ohio State at Illinois. Indiana at Wisconsin will also follow on Friday, Sept. 4 before a full slate of games on Sept. 5.

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In an interview with BTN, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren cautioned that releasing a schedule doesn't guarantee the playing of games. "There is no guarantee that we'll have fall sports or a football season," he said.

“This is not a final decision that there will be an athletics season; it is the next phase in our responsible planning process with the Big Ten Conference to be prepared if we are able to have an athletics season," Ohio State AD Gene Smith added.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.