The Big Ten football season will be starting sooner than usual this year. It’ll be a conference-only schedule, which moves up the dates in which Big Ten teams initially square off.
With that in mind we’re going to take a stab at the pros and cons of an all Big Ten season.
Playing Ohio State sooner in the year
If you’re someone who values tradition and the same way of things being done year after year, I understand. Michigan and Ohio State play the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, with a noon start time. This year, though, tradition is on hold a bit and Michigan will be playing Big Ten divisional games sooner in the year.
It’s debatable as to whether playing Ohio State sooner in the season would help Michigan or not, but with a long losing streak against the Buckeyes playing them in September or early October wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Let’s say the 2020 season is delayed, or only X amount of games get played, I think all Michigan fans would want them to see the matchup vs OSU before any stoppage of the season occurred.
Allows more time to reschedule any postponed games
Let’s face it, there’s a good chance there will be a game postponed at some point in the Big Ten. We’re seeing it in Major League Baseball, and it can definitely happen in college football as well.
This past week 15 Rutgers football players tested positive for COVID-19. If that happened during the week of a game, there’s zero chance Rutgers would have been playing against another team. Cancelling non-conference opponents allows for more bye-weeks throughout a conference-only campaign. Hopefully there’s no postponements but this is a good safeguard.
No cross-country road trip to start out the season
Playing on the road is never fun to start the year, especially when it’s all the way in the pacific northwest. That’s a long plane ride and jet-lag is bound to transpire. Long plane traip aside, once Michigan would have hit the field to start the season against Washington, they’d be playing on the road with a new starting quarterback and four new starters along the offensive line. It remains to be seen whether Michigan’s first game of the season will be home or away, but the first game will be way more local of a trip than it would have been otherwise.
The importance of each game will be magnified
Less games on the schedule, less chances to pad a win-total to ascend up the ranking leaderboard. There will be no cupcake teams to beat up on before conference play begins this season. Whether it’s Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, etc., the top tier teams in the Big Ten are going to have to hit the ground running and don’t get any practice games to get their feet wet in 2020. Any loss could prove fatal to hopes of a Big Ten Championship Game or College Football Playoff berth. Most lovers of college football embrace how crucial each game is, and every game is magnified even more this year with just ten regular season games.
Playing teams Michigan doesn’t see often
Purdue, Northwestern, and Illinois are all teams Michigan doesn’t face often, and with more Big Ten games on the schedule than usual, we’re likely to see Michigan have an irregular matchup or two thrown in to the equation.
No high-profile non-conference matchups
Michigan’s trip to Washington to start out the year was going to be one of the more intriguing matchups of Week 1 and likely to do well with television ratings. The Big Ten vs. Pac 12/SEC/Big 12 dynamic and bragging rights that go along with those tils are on hold. It’s a bit unfortunate, but beggars can’t be choosers right now. We’ll take anything we can get.
Still not knowing what the schedule is
Sure, we know it’s a conference-only schedule, but teams don’t know who they’re playing a month from now. While the teams know each other semi-well or more, each and every day that goes by not having a definitive schedule limits the amount of prep a team can do for the first week of the season. The good news is it sounds like a schedule should be coming out at some point this week.
The amount of games played in B1G only season
10 seems to be the magic number now across college football with the SEC and Pac-12 also announcing that they’ll be playing a 10-game conference-only schedule. The reasons only ten games will be played are obvious, but it’s still disappointing that there will be less football than usual.