It could be a November to remember for the Iowa football team.
The Big Ten Conference released its prime-time schedule Monday morning, and as expected Iowa’s Sept. 10 game vs. Iowa State and Nov. 5 contest at Penn State were earmarked as under-the-lights shows — both 6:30 p.m. kickoffs on the Big Ten Network.
The Hawkeyes’ 2016 schedule now includes three night games, including back-to-backers in the final month, with the Nov. 12 home game against Michigan earlier being announced as a 7 p.m. ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 broadcast.
If Iowa is positioned to repeat as Big Ten West Division champion, its first half of a 21-day, finishing November march will be broadcast in prime time. The Penn State and Michigan games begin a stretch that closes with a road game at Illinois (Nov. 19) and at home against Nebraska on Black Friday (Nov. 25).
In last week's Hawk Central radio show, Iowa assistant coach Brian Ferentz said developing night-game routines as a program are easier when there's more than one game. But certainly to make those November night games count, the Hawkeyes will need to take care of earlier business, including against the Cyclones, who have beaten Iowa in their last two trips to Kinnick Stadium.
"Our goal right now is to take things one week at a time earlier in the year, so that we can be excited when we get to that stretch of the schedule," Ferentz said. "You’d sure hate to just be playing a spoiler role for those teams you mentioned as we come down the stretch. Our job is to be in contention."
This is the second straight year that Iowa has at least three night games. Iowa played host to Pittsburgh and Minnesota at night last year, then earned a prime-time Big Ten Championship Game spot in Indianapolis against Michigan State.
“It’s good for Iowa football. I think it’s good for our fan base," Ferentz said. "I can tell you this, behind the scenes, any opportunity we can push for night games, we push full speed ahead. I’m glad the administration was able to get these things done."
Expect more Hawkeye kickoff times to be rolled out in the next few weeks, for Homecoming on Oct. 1 against Northwestern (best bet is 11 a.m. CT) and nonconference games against Miami of Ohio (Sept. 3) and North Dakota State (Sept. 17).
Iowa's 2016 football schedule
Times in CT
Sept. 3— Miami of Ohio (TBA)
Sept. 10—vs. Iowa State (6:30 p.m., BTN)
Sept. 17—vs. North Dakota State (TBA)
Sept. 24—at Rutgers (TBA)
Oct. 1 —vs. Northwestern (Homecoming; TBA)
Oct. 8—at Minnesota (TBA)
Oct. 15—at Purdue (TBA)
Oct. 22—vs. Wisconsin (TBA)
Nov. 5—at Penn State (6:30 p.m., BTN)
Nov. 12—vs. Michigan (7 p.m., ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
Nov. 19—at Illinois (TBA)
Nov. 25—vs. Nebraska (TBA)