Iowa football: Big Ten moves Hawkeyes' game at Maryland to Friday night
Friday night football is becoming more mainstream in the Big Ten Conference in an effort to capture more TV viewership. On that note, Iowa’s 2021 schedule got a notable tweak Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes’ Big Ten road opener has been moved up one day, to Friday, October 1, at Maryland. The Terrapins’ football account tweeted the news Wednesday morning. No specific kickoff time has been announced.
Playing a night game on a short week of preparation with a time-zone change would seem to be a disadvantage for the road team. On top of that, the last time Maryland played a home Friday night game, it rolled up 675 yards of offense while averaging 10.2 yards per play in a 45-44 win against Minnesota in late October. (The Terps are again expected to have a high-powered offense behind quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, an Alabama transfer and younger brother of the Miami Dolphins' starter.)
We also know that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn’t a huge fan of breaking up the Hawkeyes’ weekly routines.
Iowa has not played in College Park since the forgettable 2014 season, when the Hawkeyes blew an early 14-0 lead and lost, 38-31.
But if you’re a Hawkeye backer, there are some encouraging trends.
Iowa has won seven straight Friday games, the last loss coming in the 2016 Rose Bowl. Five of those wins have come in Black Friday games against Nebraska, all on a short week. Another came in the 2019 Holiday Bowl, a 49-24 shellacking of USC. And the other win in that streak is especially notable: a 35-7 rout at Minnesota last season … in a short week, under the Friday night lights, coming off a home win against Michigan State.
So, Iowa has done this before. The Hawkeyes head to Maryland after back-to-back nonconference home games: vs. Kent State and Colorado State. Interestingly, Maryland will enter its meeting with Iowa coming off a Sept. 25 home contest against ... Kent State.
Colorado State is 8-19 over the past three seasons. So, if Iowa takes care of business against the Rams on Sept. 25, it could be reasonably rested for the trip to Maryland. After that Friday game, Iowa would likely get Saturday to recover before beginning preparations for the Oct. 9 Black and Gold Spirit Game (the so-called “stripe-out”) against always-tough Penn State.
That Penn State game seems destined for a Saturday night, though none of Iowa’s kickoff times for 2021 have been established. The university did confirm on Wednesday, though, that the Hawkeyes’ opener against Indiana on Sept. 4 will stay on Saturday. Athletics director Gary Barta has agreed to hosting a future Friday night game on Labor Day weekend, but that will have to wait until at least 2022.