The Iowa coach reacts to new 2020 and 2021 Big Ten schedules that pit Iowa vs. Wisconsin on the last Saturday in November. Chad Leistikow
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa's annual football game against Nebraska will be moved from Black Friday after the 2019 season, the Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday.
Instead, the Hawkeyes will close the 2020 and 2021 seasons against rival Wisconsin on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
"At the end of the day, we're playing 12 games, that's all I know. And nine of them will be Big Ten games, and they'll all be tough," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said when asked to respond to the schedule change.
Iowa has concluded its regular season each year since 2011 by playing the Cornhuskers the day after Thanksgiving. The road team has won four of the six contests in what has become known as the Hy-Vee Heroes Game.
Iowa's new schedule moves the Nebraska game to the sixth or seventh week of the league season. Nebraska will instead close its seasons in 2020 and 2021 by playing Minnesota. The Gophers had typically concluded their season by facing the Badgers.
The Iowa-Wisconsin game is played for the Heartland Trophy. Those teams have also won the past three Big Ten West titles, suggesting that the stakes might be higher when the Hawkeyes and Badgers meet in the Big Ten's ninth and final week of the season.
Ferentz said he liked playing on Black Friday, because it gave his players a chance to celebrate a portion of the holiday weekend at home.
"Especially if you play at home, guys can walk out of here Friday before 6 o'clock, and the ones that live locally get to go home and actually maybe eat some turkey with their family, stuff they used to be able to do 10 years ago," Ferentz said.
Other highlights of the 2020 and '21 schedules:
- The Hawkeyes will face a Big Ten opponent in the first or second week of the season again in 2021. Indiana visits Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 4 that year for the season opener. In 2019, Iowa will host Rutgers on Sept. 7, breaking up its traditional three-game nonconference schedule.
"It's all a sign of the times," Ferentz said of the earlier beginnings to the conference slate. "There are powers that are way higher than my level that decide all this stuff."
- Iowa will have Big Ten East foe Penn State on its schedule for six consecutive seasons, as the Nittany Lions are on both the 2020 and '21 dockets. Iowa lost at Penn State last season and hosts the Lions on Sept. 23.
- October 2020 figures to be one of the most challenging months in the history of the Iowa football program. The four-game schedule lines up as: home vs. Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Penn State, and home vs. Northwestern.
- Iowa opens its 2020 Big Ten schedule with a trip to Minnesota for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. That game will come one week after Iowa hosts Iowa State in its annual Cy-Hawk rivalry tilt, putting trophies on the line in back-to-back weeks.
FUTURE IOWA BIG TEN SCHEDULES
Sept. 19 at Minnesota
Oct. 3 Michigan State
Oct. 10 at Ohio State
Oct. 17 at Penn State
Oct. 24 Northwestern
Nov. 7 at Illinois
Nov. 14 Nebraska
Nov. 21 at Purdue
Nov. 28 Wisconsin
Sept. 4 Indiana
Oct. 2 at Northwestern
Oct. 9 Penn State
Oct. 23 at Maryland
Oct. 30 Purdue
Nov. 6 at Nebraska
Nov. 13 Minnesota
Nov. 20 Illinois
Nov. 27 at Wisconsin