And just like that, the Big Ten is back in the same place it was in on Aug. 5 — albeit this time with two less games.
The conference released its fall slate of games on Saturday morning on Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff Pregame show. As of now, the Big Ten’s plan is for each team to play eight regular season games — six against divisional foes and two crossover games with the opposing division.
Each team will play a ninth game on conference championship week on Dec. 19 as well, a yet-to-be-scheduled matchup with the team in the opposite division with the same division standing.
A challenging first four weeks has the Huskers playing three teams that were ranked in the top 12 of the AP preseason poll. The season will kick off with a week one trip to the Horseshoe in a nationally-televised game against junior quarterback Justin Fields and Ohio State. The Buckeyes, the No. 2 team in the Associated Press’ Preseason Top 25, return critical pieces from last year’s team that lost to Clemson in the College Football Playoff including Fields, junior wide receiver Chris Olave and junior cornerback Shaun Wade. Wade opted back into the season on Sept. 14 after previously opting not to play to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Things don’t get much easier for Nebraska’s home opener on Halloween in week two when Wisconsin visits Memorial Stadium. The Badgers were the No. 12 team in the AP preseason poll and return an experienced quarterback in senior Jack Coan.
Wisconsin will have concerns on the offensive end, such as replacing graduating talents like running back Jonathan Taylor and wide receiver Quintez Cephus. However, a ground-and-pound attack behind what projects to be another solid offensive line will once again present challenges for defensive coordinator Eric Chinander’s unit.
After a visit to Northwestern in week three, Nebraska returns home for its second and final crossover game of the eight-game schedule in week four against Penn State. Penn State was ranked No. 7 in the country prior to the start of the season.
The back half of the Huskers’ schedule is comparatively lighter, and it starts with a home date with Illinois on Nov. 21 in week five. Nebraska then has its rivalry matchup at Iowa on Thanksgiving weekend in week six.
Nebraska closes the regular season at Purdue in week seven and hosts Minnesota in week eight before the to be determined opponent in what the Big Ten is dubbing “Big Ten Champions Week.”
Here is Nebraska’s full schedule for the 2020-21 season. Home games are in bold. Dates and times are subject to change.
October 24: at Ohio State
October 31: Wisconsin
November 7: at Northwestern
November 14: Penn State
November 21: Illinois
November 28: at Iowa
December 5: at Purdue
December 12: Minnesota
December 19: Big Ten Champions Week, opponent TBD