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Big Ten releases third edition of 2020 football schedule, Northwestern opens with Maryland on Oct. 24

Football is BACK!

Third time’s the charm?

After the craziest month in Big Ten history, the conference released its updated 2020 football schedule via Fox Sports’ Big Noon Kickoff on Saturday morning. In the third and hopefully final rendition of this year’s Big Ten lineup, each team plays eight games — six divisional and two crossover — across eight weeks.

A little over a month ago on August 5, the Big Ten announced its updated conference-only, 10-game schedule in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Northwestern was slated to travel to Penn State on September 5 before the conference ultimately postponed its season six days later.

Now, after the conference backpedaled on its original decision and announced it would begin its season in a month, Northwestern is set to kick off on October 24 at Ryan Field against its first crossover opponent, the Maryland Terrapins — a favorable Week 1 matchup to acclimate the Wildcats to the season of COVID.

Following its home-opener, NU will hit the road for Iowa City and enter Hawkeyes territory for a Halloween division matchup. To open November, the ‘Cats will then return home to host the Huskers in hopes of recreating their iconic 2018 Nebraska victory.

Northwestern will continue its divisional stretch with a road trip to Purdue before hosting Wisconsin on Nov. 21 for its biggest test of the season to that point.

The ‘Cats will then face their second and final crossover opponent at Michigan State on Nov. 28, spending Thanksgiving weekend in East Lansing. Their back-to-back road trips continue with a trip to Minneapolis on December 5.

Finally, NU will close out its regular season with a mid-December HAT victory at home. After the Big Ten eliminated its traditional rivalry weekend on its previous schedule — where NU was set to play Michigan in a slightly different iteration of “The Game” to end the season — the conference brought back some, but not all, of its iconic rivalry matchups to close out the year.

Each Big Ten team will then have compete in “Champions Week,” whether or not they are in contention for the conference title. Teams will face off against their corresponding crossover opponent according to divisional seeding.

After a tough 2019 schedule, NU’s 2020 slate is exactly what it would’ve hoped for in this uncertain season. The Wildcats dodged facing preseason No. 7 Penn State and No. 16 Michigan — which were set to be their season opener and closer in the second edition of their schedule.

Additionally, NU doesn’t have to board a plane until Week 7 and only has one flight the whole season — to Minnesota — which is ideal given the ongoing concern of COVID-19. That is if they even take a plane there. It’s roughly a six-hour drive from Evanston to Minneapolis, and in a season unlike any other, they could end up bussing it.

Northwestern has a little over a month to prepare for its season that kicks off the weekend of October 4. Even with a full slate of Big Ten opponents, no nonconference cushion and no bye weeks, the Wildcats’ schedule is more than manageable. And at the end of the day, at least NU isn’t Nebraska.

Be careful what you wish for, Huskers.

Per reports, the Big Ten will announce start times and Friday games at a later date.