Hawkeyes end season with Wisconsin, at Ohio State
A revised Iowa football schedule comes with no guarantees but provides the Hawkeyes with a starting point and several unique twists.
The Big Ten unveiled its remade 10-game conference-only schedules Wednesday, kicking off the season Sept. 3 when Ohio State visits Illinois.
Two days later, Iowa will open its schedule with a home game against Maryland.
It will be the first time since 1980 the Hawkeyes have opened the season with a game against a Big Ten opponent and if the schedule holds, Iowa will become the first team since 1942 other than Michigan to be Ohio State’s opponent in a regular-season finale.
The Hawkeyes visit Ohio Stadium on Nov. 21, one week after hosting Wisconsin in a schedule for Iowa that concludes with back-to-back games against the Big Ten’s 2019 division champions.
All Big Ten teams at this time are scheduled to have a bye on Nov. 28, part of the flexibility in a schedule that gives teams two additional in-season byes to provide options if games need to be delayed because of COVID-19 issues.
As currently set-up, all 14 Big Ten teams will play four conference games in September before having one bye week in October and a second in early November.
In addition to opening with the Terrapins on Sept. 5, Iowa will visit Purdue and Minnesota during the opening month of the season before hosting Nebraska on Sept. 26.
The Hawkeyes have additional home games against Northwestern on Oct. 3 and Michigan State on Oct. 31 before their home finale on Nov. 14 against the Badgers.
Iowa will visit Illinois on Oct. 10 before having a bye week prior to its Oct. 24 game at Penn State. The Hawkeyes’ other in-season bye is scheduled for Nov. 7, prior to games against Wisconsin and at Ohio State.
With its league-opening game, the Fighting Illini will open preseason camp on Thursday while Iowa’s fall camp will start Friday.
“As a program, we have been looking forward to this day since the decision to play a conference-only schedule was announced. Knowing when our games are scheduled will allow us to prepare for what is ahead on the field,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
“Our players have shown patience and dedication during the most recent period of conditioning and off-season workouts, and now we are excited to begin the process of preparing for a football season.”
It’s a season that first-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren hopes will take place.
While several conferences have chosen to delay the start of the season, Warren said Big Ten leaders opted to start as scheduled on Labor Day weekend to create the greatest amount of flexibility possible.
In a statement, the Big Ten indicated that “issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur. While our strategy is to continue planning for fall sports, if the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols, we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition.”
If a Sept. 5 start proves unfeasible because of the coronavirus, Warren said the schedule is built so that the season could open on Sept. 12, Sept. 19 or even Sept. 26 if needed and still allow all games to be played.
The Big Ten still plans to hold its championship game in Indianapolis on Dec. 5, but that game can also be moved to as late as Dec. 19 if the schedule is adjusted.
“One reason we went to a 10-game conference-only schedule was for us to be able to be as flexible as we can,” Warren said during an interview with the Big Ten Network.
“We remain hopeful there will be a season and that there will be fall sports. We are approaching everything on a day-to-day basis. We have to plan ahead, but we understand we are in a pandemic and that things may change from one day to the next.”
The Big Ten released medical protocols surrounding COVID-19 for all of its sports on Wednesday, including required twice-weekly testing for football players administered through a third-party laboratory.
Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said the safety and wellness of student-athletes, coaches, staff and others associated with sports programs remain the top priority.
Barta said the schedule announcement allows Iowa and other Big Ten programs to now plan for the season.
“We will finalize our Kinnick Stadium seating plan and share that in the next few days,” Barta said, offering appreciation for the patience shown by donors, ticket holders, business partners and fans.
Iowa, which paused ticket sales for the 2020 season in late June, indicated it has not yet determined an allowable attendance capacity for home games at Kinnick Stadium.
It also announced Wednesday that the traditional Kids at Kinnick Day open practice typically held in August will not take place this year, leaving the Sept. 5 opener as the first public appearance for the Hawkeyes.
2020 Iowa Football Schedule
Sept. 5 MARYLAND
Sept. 12 at Purdue
Sept. 19 at Minnesota
Sept. 26 NEBRASKA
Oct. 3 NORTHWESTERN
Oct. 10 at Illinois
Oct. 24 at Penn State
Oct. 31 MICHIGAN STATE
Nov. 14 WISCONSIN
Nov. 21 at Ohio State