Breaking down the third edition of Iowa’s 2020 football schedule

The conference’s third version of its 2020 football schedule was released on Saturday and the season is set to start Oct. 23-24.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa wideout Nico Ragaini scores a touchdown during a football game between Iowa and Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 23-19.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The third (and final?) version of the 2020 Big Ten football schedule was released on Saturday, and the season is set to kick off in just over a month.

No teams have any bye weeks in their schedule and COVID-19 could very well prevent some games from happening. All games are currently scheduled for Saturdays, though some may be moved to Fridays at a later date, said an Iowa spokesperson. No fans will be in the stands at any Big Ten games.

As the anticipation for the once unlikely fall season continues to build, here’s what the schedule looks like for the Hawkeyes.

Oct. 24: at Purdue (2019 record: 4-8)

A quarterback competition and a defense looking to rebound under new coordinator Bobby Diaco are storylines to follow for Purdue. But the real story in West Lafayette is whether star receiver Rondale Moore will choose, or even be allowed, to opt back into the season.

Oct. 31: vs. Northwestern (3-9)

The Wildcats may have an advantage playing in front of no fans. Northwestern went from Big Ten West champions in 2018 to the bottom of the division last season. Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey should help an offense that had plenty of quarterback struggles a season ago.

Nov. 7: vs. Michigan State (7-6)

Mel Tucker is leading the Spartan program now after longtime head coach Mark Dantonio resigned in February. The Spartans’ starting quarterback from last season, Brian Lewerke, graduated, so it will likely be up to Valley High School alum Rocky Lombardi to lead an offense that has struggled in recent years.

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Nov. 14: at Minnesota (11-2)

Quarterback Tanner Morgan threw 30 touchdowns last season as a sophomore and led the Gophers to its best season in decades. Morgan’s top target and one of the premier receiver prospects for next year’s NFL Draft, Rashod Bateman, is another player who originally opted out of the 2020 season but is now seeking to play.

Head coach P.J. Fleck is 0-3 in his career against Iowa, including a loss last season that ended Minnesota’s perfect season.

Nov. 21: at Penn State (11-2)

Sean Clifford seamlessly took over for longtime starting quarterback Trace McSorley last season. The second-year starter will be working with new offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Kirk Ciarrocca, who came over from Minnesota.

One of the nation’s top linebackers, Micah Parsons, is another name to watch for as he may attempt to rejoin the Nittany Lions after previously opting out of the season to prepare for the draft.

Iowa has lost six in a row to Penn State, including a 17-12 loss in 2019. The usually lively crowd at Beaver Stadium is now a non-factor, however.

Nov. 28: vs. Nebraska (5-7)

Maybe year three is the time for Scott Frost at Nebraska. Or maybe not.

Iowa has defeated the Cornhuskers five times in a row, including the last two years on game-winning field goals. Nebraska’s quarterback Adrian Martinez was not fully healthy last season and took a step back after an impressive freshman season.

Dec. 5: at Illinois (6-7)

The Illini were much improved last season. Quarterback Brandon Peters threw for 18 touchdowns as a junior and has weapons back for 2020. The team’s defense has potential to be among the best in the Big Ten West.

Dec. 12: vs. Wisconsin (10-4)

Iowa and Wisconsin playing in December just seems right. Jack Coan looked the part in his first season as Wisconsin’s full-time starter under center, but he won’t have the luxury of handing the ball off to Jonathan Taylor (now a member of the Indianapolis Colts) anymore. The Badgers are a popular pick to win the West.

Dec. 19: Champions Week, Big Ten East opponent TBD

A new wrinkle in this schedule is that it concludes with Champions Week. Either Iowa will compete in the Big Ten Championship Game, or the same week it will matchup with an opponent from the East division. Games will be paired by standings (second-place team vs. second-place team, third vs. third, etc.).