CHAMPAIGN – When the original shortened Big Ten schedule was released in August, they were supposed to open up the Big Ten season with Ohio State.
That contest was scheduled for September 3rd, but less than a week later, the campaign was postponed till the spring due to concerns over COVID-19.
Then came nearly a month of debate about what to do about the season, and that finally led to a reversal of course for the Big Ten, who decided to play this fall once teams had access to better testing.
Now a new schedule – one in which each team will play nine total games – is out for the conference, but one thing remains the same: The Illini will be on the field when the Big Ten season kicks off in a most unusual 2020 season.
Lovie Smith’s team will go a day earlier than scheduled to get things going, facing Wisconsin on Friday, October 23rd at 7 PM at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. It will be the only game that will be played that night before the rest of the conference gets going on Saturday.
Coming off their first bowl appearance in five years, the Illini will hope to recapture the magic they had the last time the teams met in Champaign on October 19th of last season. At 2-4 on the season, Illinois pulled off perhaps the upset of the Big Ten season, knocking of then No. 6 Wisconsin 24-23.
Northwestern will also have a night game to start their 2020 season at home against Maryland as they take the field at 6:30 PM in Evanston. The season openers are the only games for each team that have a date and time set.