Sully's Big Blog! Commentary on College Football, Weekly Games, And Strange Statistics!

Big Ten 2020 Schedule

The Big 10 has a different philosophy as to how they schedule their non-conference (NC) games from that of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This can be quickly evidenced by the fact that 4 teams in the B-10 (Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, & Northwestern) do not play a Non-conference (NC) Power Five (P5) opponent in the 2020 season!

It should also be noted that the B-10 plays only 8 games against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), while the SEC plays 14 FCS teams. The FCS teams can award up to 63 scholarships, while the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) must offer 85 to maintain their good standing in that subdivision! It should be pointed out, that Illinois, Nebraska, & Northwestern, 3 teams that do not play a NC game vs a P5 opponent, also line it up against an FCS squad. This creates both the perception and the reality of a “weak” NC schedule!

Finally, it should be noted that while both conferences have 14 members, the B-10 plays 9 conference games to the SEC’s 8. This means the B-10 has to schedule 3 NC games ( a total of 42 NC games), while the SEC has to set dates with 4 NC opponents (a total of 56 NC games). That said, the B-10 conference scheduling means that each team in the league plays 9 P5 (as B-10 is a P5 conference) opponents. The remaining teams (PSU, OSU, Maryland, Rutgers, & Michigan in the East Division & Wisconsin, Purdue, Iowa, & Minnesota in the West) all play a p5 NC Team. Michigan State, like the SEC’s Georgia, our the only team’s in their respective conference to play 2 P5’s in 2020!

http://www.sullyscollegefootballpage.com/Football_Stats/Conference_Listings.cfm?MCID=1&DVID=3

Illinois: plays 2 Group of 5 (G5) teams, U-Conn & Bowling Green (please note that G5’s teams are part of the FBS/85 scholarships teams) and one FCS opponent, Illinois State, Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC). All 3 games are in Champaign! The best one can say about the Illini NC schedule is that it is both realistic and weak!

Indiana:  the Hoosiers play 3 G5 teams, Western Kentucky & Ball State in Bloomington and U-Conn in Connecticut! The best one can say about IU’s NC schedule is that it is weak!

Iowa: the Hawks play a balanced NC schedule, in-state-rival, Iowa State (P5 / B-12), a G5 opponent, Northern Illinois (MAC), & a FCS team, Northern Iowa (MVFC)! All 3 NC games are in Iowa City!

Maryland: the Terps NC schedule is very much like Iowa’s! They play 1 P5 from the B-12, West Virginia, 1 G5, Northern Illinois, & 1 FCS opponent, Towson from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Maryland recruits an area known as the DMV ( DC, Maryland & Virginia) scheduling and then beating a team like WV, helps win some of those recruiting battles!

Michigan: the Wolverines NC schedule is solid! They play 1 P5, Washington, in Seattle, a very good PAC 12 team and 2 G5 teams, Arkansas State (Sun Belt Conference/SBC) & Ball State (MAC). While Arkansas State & Ball State are not counted among best G5 Programs, given Michigan’s in division battles (OSU & PSU), their schedule, if the beat Washington, will help, not hurt, their post season aspirations!

Michigan State: the Spartans play the B-10’s best NC schedule in 2020! Sparty is the only B-10 team to schedule 2 P5 teams, BYU ( like many P5 conferences’, Sully’s College Football Page {SCFP} count BYU & ND as Independent affillities of the P5 Conferences)  & Miami FL (ACC). They also play Toledo, one of the better teams in the MAC West! The good news for MSU, given their challenging NC line-up, is that they host OSU & Michigan!

Minnesota: the Gophers have taken the balanced approach to the 2020 NC schedule. Goldy plays 1 P5, BYU, 1 G5, Florida Atlantic, & 1 FCC team, Tennessee Tech, Ohio Valley Conference, (OVC). I often hear that Minnesota finished 2nd in the B-10 West to Wisconsin, that statement is incorrect; Goldy tied Bucky for the West Division (both the U of M & the UW finished 7-2) however, the result losing to the Badgers, 38-17, UM lost the tie breaker!

Nebraska: the Cornhuskers are the 3rd team from the B-10 not to schedule a P5 NC opponent. In my humble opinion, this is a short-sighted approach to scheduling for a team that likes to see itself in the postseasons’ Top Four! Nebraska is the 20th best recruiting program in the nation (established through a 4 year composit from 3 sights; ESPN, Rivals, & 247) and the best recruiting program in the B-10 West Division. They are lucky that have drawn OSU (@ home) & PSU (@ Happy Valley) from the East in 2020. If they were to win the B-10 with one loss, their NC schedule will do nothing to bolster their selection into the Top Four! The Huskers should be playing former B-12 rivals; good for travel, good for the gate ($), and good for strength of schedule!

Northwestern: the Cats are the 4th (3rd from the West Division) and thankfully the last B-10 team to not have scheduled a NC P5 for the 2020 season! NW plays 2 G5’s, Tulane (AAC) & Central Michigan (MAC) and 1 FCS team, Morgan State, from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). While the schedule is weak, given the fact that it took the Cats 9 games to finely get its first B-10 win in 2019 ( Illinois, 29-10), let’s just call the 2020 schedule timely!

Ohio State: the Bucks, in week 2, travel out to the west coast to take on Oregon, the defending PAC-12 & Rose Bowl champs! Provided Brutus wins the B-10, a win in this game is a  really good resume builder for OSU’s inclusion in the Top Four discussion. The Bucks also kick-it-off against 2 G5’s Bowling Green (MAC) & Buffalo (MAC). OSU has Michigan State & Penn State in back 2 back weeks, both games are on the road! Brutus has beaten ‘Big Blue’ 15 of 16, while Michigan has only beat Ohio State 3 times this century, so much for a rivalry!

Penn State: the Nittany Lions play 1 P5, @ Virginia Tech (ACC) & 2 G5’s, Kent State (MAC) & San Jose State, Mountain West (MWC), both games are in Happy Valley. This NC schedule will not hurt the Nittany Lions consideration for a spot in the Top Four! They have a 3 week stretch from Oct. 3rd thru Oct. 24th, where they face off against Michigan on the road, followed by Iowa & OSU @ home! The V-Tech affair in Blacksburg and those 3 Saturday days in October, should determine the Lions fate in the ‘second season’!

Purdue: the Boilers take on 1 P5, Boston College and 2 G5’s, yet G5’s only in name. Memphis (AAC) represented the G5’s in the New Year’s 6 Cotton Bowl in 2019, signifying their place as the best team in all of the Group of Five. Air Force, who lost only 2 games last year, one to an 11-2 Boise State, 30-19, & to an 11-2 Navy squad, 34-25, while beating 2 P-12 teams, Colorado, 30-23 & Washington State, 31-21 . This schedule will not hurt their bowl considerations! Purdue, arguably, will return the best combo of explosive players in the B-10, slot receiver, Rondale Moore & Wide Receiver, David Bell.

Rutgers: has a balanced NC schedule, 1 P5, Syracuse (ACC), 1 G5, Temple (AAC), & 1 FCS, Monmouth University, Big South (BSC). This NC schedule, coupled with their B-10 East schedule, will help them if they were to become bowl eligible in 2020!

Wisconsin: the Badgers have scheduled one of the best games of the 2020 season! Bucky welcomes Notre Dame to legendary Lambeau Field, home to the Green Bay Packers! What most Wisconsinites know, is that Earl Louis ‘Curly’ Lambeau, was a player/coach for the Packers from 1919 to 1929 and the GB HC & GM from 1919 to 1949! What is less known, is that Curly Lambeau played for legendary Irish coach, Knute Rockne, in 1918! The Badgers scheduling this game have truly woke up the echoes and put themselves on college football’s center stage. If Bucky wins this game and beats OSU or PSU in the B-10 championship, for the 1st time, they could make the CFP with a loss! UW also plays a dangerous Appalachian State (SBC) & an FCS team, Southern Illinois!

Tomorrow we will look at the ACC 2020 schedule!

 

 

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