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The Bucket Game is back on the schedule (for now)

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Will IU’s crossover game actually happen?

NCAA Football: Indiana at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Old Oaken Bucket game is back on Indiana’s schedule.

But maybe don’t get too set on seeing the game actually happen.

The Big Ten on Sunday released the crossover matchups for its first-ever Champions Week, pairing IU and Purdue after last week’s COVID-related cancellation wiped the annual trophy game off the docket. Bucket Game Version 2.0 is slated to kick off on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

We’ll see about that. Both programs remain on pause due to the recent surge of positive test results, so while it would be great to see Indiana squeeze in a proper regular season finale before entering bowl season, it all seems a bit overly optimistic at the moment. I suppose we’ll see how this week plays out, but it feels like the way this game was cobbled together — a Friday night BTN game between two teams that aren’t practicing — suggests that those in positions of power know which way the wind is blowing in Bloomington and West Lafayette. If there was genuine belief that this game could be played, it would sure seem to make more sense to book it for a Saturday slot, instead.

Looking at the matchups conference-wide, it’s also interesting to see how the idea for this week has evolved. Originally, this was supposed to be a week where teams with comparable positions in the East and West standings were to match up for quasi-postseason games on campus sites. Instead, it has all the feelings of a makeup week — regularly scheduled contests between IU and Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Maryland and Michigan State were all bagged earlier this fall due to COVID cases. So those games will finally kick off this week.

At least, that’s the hope.