The Big Ten will still try and play football this fall.
We’ll see how far it gets.
In what very well may be an exercise in futility, the league compiled a revised 10-game schedule and released it Wednesday morning, setting in motion what is almost assured to be the weirdest football season in conference history.
At the same time, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren acknowledged this might not work. Speaking to the league’s television arm, Warren said scheduling flexibility was among the priorities in redesigning the season slate, meaning there are no guarantees that the games will unfold as scheduled. Indeed, on-the-fly changes are expected as COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
And they will occur.
Each team will have two open dates inside of the 10-game run, and if necessary, games can be pushed into those bye weeks. And while the season is set to begin as early as Sept. 5, league officials believe the construction of the calendar allows them the ability to push the start date back to as late as Sept. 26 and move affected games to the back of the calendar.
“If something happens where a team was not able to play during a week, we could move those games to later in the season,” Warren said. “I think flexibility is so critically important. As we all know, we are very hopeful to have a Big Ten football season, to have fall sports in our Big Ten conference. But we’re approaching this entire process on a day-to-day basis.”
For Indiana, a front-loaded schedule awaits:
Sept. 4: at Wisconsin
Sept. 12: vs. Penn State
Sept. 19: vs. Illinois
Sept. 26: at Ohio State
Oct. 10: at Minnesota
Oct. 17: vs. Michigan
Oct. 24: vs. Maryland
Oct. 31: at Rutgers
Nov. 7: at Michigan State
Nov. 21: vs. Purdue
To recap, IU is still set for a Friday night season-opening game at Wisconsin, and while the rest of the league’s teams have seen rivalry matchups moved up earlier in the fall, Indiana will still see Purdue on the final weekend of the schedule. At least, that’s the plan.
Elsewhere on the docket, IU will host Michigan and travel to Michigan State for the second consecutive year. Originally, those games were supposed to be played in Ann Arbor and Bloomington, respectively.
The addition of Minnesota as the 10th opponent is also notable in that it means IU is set to face last year’s two best teams from the West. Last fall, IU saw the bottom of the division in its crossover games, but with the Gophers and Badgers penciled in this year, the Hoosiers are set for additional tests.
Fall camp is set to begin on Thursday.