Iowa football's 2022 schedule has been changed. Here are 3 takeaways from the revisions.
Before fully moving forward with the 2021 college football season officially in the books, there was a final bit of business for the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday.
The league announced some scheduling changes, which were a byproduct of the 2020 season that was radically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some games got shuffled then, and there is a ripple effect now for 2022.
Generally speaking, Iowa experienced fewer big changes compared to some of its Big Ten peers. All of the originally scheduled opponents and sites remained the same as was released back in 2018. But the sequence of those games changed considerably.
Here are some of the bullet points worth mentioning:
Only one date moved on the home schedule.
This is important info for all Hawkeye fans, particularly season-ticket holders who like to get their fall weekend plans arranged well in advance.
The all-home nonconference schedule of South Dakota State (Sept. 3), Iowa State (Sept. 10) and Nevada (Sept. 17) will be followed by Michigan (Oct. 1), Northwestern (Oct. 29), Wisconsin (Nov. 12) and Nebraska (Nov. 25, in the usual Black Friday spot).
The only adjustment was Wisconsin, which moves up a week from the previously slated Nov. 19. Not too radical.
Looking ahead:Leistikow: Projecting Iowa football's starters for the 2022 season
Speaking of … the last three (chilly) games will likely shape the Big Ten West race.
The biggest schedule tweak for Iowa moved the previously slated game at Minnesota from Sept. 24 (as the conference opener) to Nov. 19 in Minneapolis.
The Hawkeyes instead open their Big Ten campaign at Rutgers on Sept. 24, their first trip to Piscataway since the fourth game of the 2016 season.
The new finishing slate for the Hawkeyes: Wisconsin, at Minnesota, Nebraska. Going to Minneapolis on Nov. 7 during the 2020 pandemic season was cold enough, now we’re talking Nov. 19. The Badgers and Gophers again figure to be prominent in the West Division race.
Bundle up, Hawkeye fans.
More:Iowa Hawkeyes hang on to spot in college football's final top-25 polls
The initial gauntlet has been broken up a bit. Is that a good thing?
Iowa originally was scheduled to go to Minnesota, host Michigan, then travel to Purdue and Ohio State in Big Ten play before getting its bye week. That sounded rough.
In addition to swapping Rutgers for Minnesota as the Big Ten opener for Iowa and sliding Illinois up to Oct. 8 followed by an Oct. 15 open date, there is now a more balanced schedule throughout for the Hawkeyes. After that bye, a trip to Ohio State — the program’s first since 2013, believe it or not — awaits on Oct. 22. Probably not the worst thing to have two weeks to prepare for the Buckeyes.
Generally, it’s dangerous to predict how good teams will be before the ink is even dry on rosters. Of course, there are projections everywhere already, and Iowa’s forecast is all over the place. ESPN’s “way-too-early” top 25 for 2022 had Iowa slated as the No. 15 team in the country. Yahoo Sports put Iowa 18th. CBS Sports had the Hawkeyes unranked, yet USA TODAY Sports had them at No. 10.
It’s equally futile, in a sense, to definitively say that the schedule “looks easier” or “looks tougher” with much accuracy, eight to 11 months out. But overall, it looks like the Hawkeyes have at least a decent opportunity to assemble some early-season momentum with three home games and then a winnable trip to Rutgers before a Big Ten Championship Game rematch Oct. 1 vs. Michigan. That’s when the 2022 schedule fun really begins.
Iowa's revised 2022 football schedule
Sept. 3: vs. South Dakota State
Sept. 10: vs. Iowa State
Sept. 17: vs. Nevada
Sept. 24: at Rutgers
Oct. 1: vs. Michigan
Oct. 8: at Illinois
Oct. 15: Open date
Oct. 22: at Ohio State
Oct. 29: vs. Northwestern
Nov. 5: at Purdue
Nov. 12: vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 19: at Minnesota
Nov. 25: vs. Nebraska
Dec. 3: Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis