The ACC dropped its schedule on Wednesday night, and the Big Ten is close to doing the same. We could see a puff of white smoke floating out of the Big Ten’s suburban Chicago head quarters as soon as Friday, and certainly by next week.
We already knew the 2020 season would be different than any in living memory, and once the schedule drops it could really hit home just how different this fall will be.
Big Ten presidents and ADs are reportedly mulling schedules that would see divisional games bumped forward. As Teddy Greenstein writes in the Chicago Tribune:
Big Ten officials have debated when to schedule the six divisional games (East vs. East, West vs. West). Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos said in mid-July he preferred them in the middle “in case you have to knock a game or two off the front or a game or two on the back end.”
But barring a late switch, the schedule will be front-loaded with the divisional games because those tend to require shorter travel and less risk of coronavirus exposure.
The conference could either add a fourth cross-division game to each team’s schedule or tear up the current slate and start over, favoring geography. For example, Illinois is slated to host Ohio State and travel to Indiana and Rutgers for its crossover games. The Michigan schools are obviously closer to Champaign than the one in New Jersey.
The report does not mention Michigan-Ohio State (or any other rivalry games) specifically, but such games fall check all the boxes of what Big Ten leadership would like to see played earlier rather than later.
The Big Ten is expected to space out its schedule to allow for postponements, stretching anywhere from 13 to 15 weeks. A 13-week season beginning on Sept. 5 would end as originally planned, on Nov. 28. A 15-week season would stretch to Dec. 12.
And while it would not be a surprise to the Big Ten shove most of its divisional games forward while keeping Rivalry Week games in their traditional slots, scheduling a must-play game on Sept. 26 leaves you lots of wiggle room if that proves necessary. A Nov. 28 game leaves you very little.