On Saturday, the Big Ten released the schedule for the 2020 football season. It’s official, football is back in the Big Ten and it will begin on Oct. 24.
“This has been an interesting, this has been a complicated year,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay. “But in those times, you just have to remain focused and go back and say to ourselves ‘we have 10,000 student-athletes in the Big Ten, they have an opportunity to get a world-class education at one of our 14 institutions, and we just need to make sure we need to stay true to our beliefs. These are amateur student-athletes, they are not professionals. We have to make sure they are healthy and safe, physically and mentally. We feel very comfortable to proceed with our Big Ten football season.”
The conference announced their schedule five days after the presidents an chancellors voted unanimously to move forward with a fall season. With an official schedule being released, Greg Schiano can move forward with an opponent in mind. There is a little over four weeks until the first game and the Scarlet Knights will go to work in hopes of improving during the 2020 season.
Rutgers will play eight conference game plus one on the day of the Big Ten Championship. Teams will play a ninth game based on their record in their respective divisions. Let’s take a closer look at the entire Rutgers’ schedule.
Oct. 24: at Michigan State
This is an intriguing matchup for the Scarlet Knights in Week 1. Michigan State has a new coach in Mel Tucker and will be playing this game at home without fans. Theoretically, this could work in Rutgers’ favor but the Spartans will be determined to get an opening win, especially with games against Michigan and Iowa looming. The last time these two teams met, it was a 27-0 victory for Michigan State.
Oct. 31: vs. Indiana
This is a winnable game early on for Rutgers. They should come out fired up for their home opener in the new Greg Schiano era. Indiana is returning 17 starters including quarterback Michael Penix Jr. There should be no shortage of adrenaline heading into this game for Rutgers.
Nov. 7: at Ohio State
Get in, get out, stay healthy. That is the strategy for Rutgers in this game. Ohio State was extremely vocal about wanting to play this fall because they believe they have a team ready to win the National Championship. Justin Fields is a Heisman candidate and will be a high pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. This is a game where you take a look at the line and hope for Rutgers to cover, which they did in 2019 losing 56-21.
Nov. 14: vs. Illinois
Lovie Smith is hoping for a 2020 season to remember. Illinois won six wins in 2019 and played in a bowl game for the first time since 2014. They are returning their quarterback Brandon Peters this season but will be on the road against the Scarlet Knights. This is the second straight winnable home game for Rutgers.
Nov. 21: vs. Michigan
Last season, this was a 52-0 loss for the Scarlet Knights. Jim Harbaugh is long-overdue to get Michigan football back. They have underachieved in the national spotlight, but they are still on a different level than Rutgers. This game will be in New Brunswick, but it is extremely one-sided.
Nov. 28: at Purdue
Rutgers and Purdue have not played since 2017 when the Scarlet Knights won a 14-12 game. Purdue was a 4-8 team in 2019. Rutgers will hit the road in this game but this is as winnable a game as there is. This will be a game late in the season where we will see how the team has improved and where they have regressed. If nothing else, this will be a competitive matchup, but this is a game Rutgers should expect to win.
Dec. 5: vs. Penn State
Rutgers is 2-28 all-time against Penn State and has not beaten the Nittany Lions since 1988. Quarterback Sean Clifford is back to lead what will be one of the best teams in the nation. Penn State is a complete team with a Big Ten Championship on their mind. The only positive is that Rutgers will have the convenience of playing this game at home.
Dec. 12: at Maryland
Maryland finished 3-9 last season and had just one Big Ten victory. Yes, it was against Rutgers and it was an ugly 48-7 finish. This game should be far more competitive. Maryland is still rebuilding and Rutgers should be improved, especially by the eighth game under the new coaching staff. This would be a chance for Rutgers to gain momentum heading into their final game of the season on Dec. 19 against a Big Ten West opponent.