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Badgers football schedule features Big Ten West rivals, 2 crossover games
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Badgers football schedule features Big Ten West rivals, 2 crossover games

Jack Coan photo

Quarterback Jack Coan and the Badgers are scheduled to open the 2020 season against Illinois on Oct. 24 at Camp Randall Stadium. The Illini upset UW 24-23 last season in Champaign, Ill.

Big Ten Conference leaders are hoping that their third crack at a league football schedule will stick.

The revamped schedule for the University of Wisconsin and other league teams was announced Saturday during Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff broadcast. The schedule features eight games — four home and four road — and a ninth game against the opponent who finishes in the same position in the other division.

Here’s a look at the Badgers schedule, with kickoff times to be announced later:

  • Oct. 24: vs. Illinois
  • Oct. 31: at Nebraska
  • Nov. 7: vs. Purdue
  • Nov. 14: at Michigan
  • Nov. 21: at Northwestern
  • Nov. 28: vs. Minnesota
  • Dec. 5: vs. Indiana
  • Dec. 12: at Iowa
  • Dec. 19: Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis; game vs. East Division opponent

Per a UW official, special game dates, including Fridays, will be determined and announced at a later date. Details of the Big Ten Champions Week will also be announced at a later time. 

UW maintained crossover games against Michigan and Indiana in the new schedule. In the 10-game, conference-only schedule released in early August, the Badgers’ crossover games also included Rutgers. That schedule was scrapped six days after its release when the Big Ten postponed the season.

Conference leaders said earlier this week during the announcement to start the fall season that the league’s daily testing protocols gave them hope that they’ll be able to play nine games in nine weeks.

Big Ten's 2020 football schedule

Games could be cancelled under Big Ten protocols, but the conference has not yet announced how cancelled games will be recorded, or if the team with unacceptable COVID-19 test results will have to forfeit.

Along with the excitement that’s inherent to a debut game, the Badgers will be out for revenge when they host Illinois to start the year. The Fighting Illini toppled then-No. 6 UW last year in one of the biggest upsets of the college football season, snapping the Badgers’ nine-game winning streak in the series.

Many eyebrows around college football raised when they saw the slate Nebraska opens the year with, including their Halloween date with UW. The Cornhuskers — who were loudly against the conference’s decision to postpone the season, including a lawsuit filed against the Big Ten by eight of their players — face Ohio State, the Badgers, Northwestern and Penn State in the first four weeks.

UW plays Michigan for the fifth straight year, coming off the Badgers’ 35-14 dismantling of the Wolverines to kick off Big Ten play a year ago. However, UW hasn’t won at Michigan since 2010.

Playing at Northwestern has been a nightmare for the Badgers, losing five of the past six road matchups in the series. UW’s game against Northwestern this season was supposed to be held at Wrigley Field, marking the first time the Badgers have played in the Chicago Cubs’ ballpark since 2010, but it was moved in July due to the uncertainties of the pandemic.

The final three-week stretch of the season will very likely determine the Big Ten West Division’s representative in the conference title game. UW hosts the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe on Nov. 28, and it will likely be a turning point in the race for the West Division championship. The Badgers’ final home game of the season the following week against Indiana will also be a challenge as the Hoosiers look to have a solid offense this year.

The regular-season finale at Iowa is another difficult test. The Hawkeyes have a knack for throwing a wrench into things at Kinnick Stadium — recent examples include last season’s win over previously-unbeaten Minnesota, which opened the door for UW to win the division, and 2017’s 55-24 win over Ohio State that kept the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff.

Some other key games around the conference include Michigan at Minnesota (Oct. 24), Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 31), Iowa at Penn State (Nov. 21) and Michigan at Ohio State (Dec. 12).

Big Ten's biggest questions: On-field issues for Wisconsin Badgers, rest of conference

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