Mon, Aug 30, 2021
• All 14 Big Ten schools will be in action as week one of the 2021 season kicks off Thursday night when Minnesota, Ohio State and Rutgers make their debut. The Scarlet Knights will play host to Temple at 6:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network, while the Golden Gophers open at home against the Buckeyes at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. The remaining nine schools will begin the 2021 campaign on Friday and Saturday, highlighted by a trio of conference matchups. The complete opening weekend schedule appears to the right.
• Illinois opened the Bret Bielema era with a 30-22 victory over Nebraska on Saturday, Illinois’ first victory over Nebraska at home since 2015. The victory marked the first conference win in a season opener for the Illini since Sept. 1, 1984 (24-16 victory over Northwestern in Champaign).
• Indiana looks to capitalize on its 2020 success as the team opens its conference slate at Iowa this weekend. Last season, the Hoosiers went 6-1 in Big Ten play with the only loss coming by seven points at Ohio State – a team that went on to play for the national championship.
• With a 6-1 Big Ten record in 2020, Indiana secured a winning conference record in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1987-88. The Hoosiers’ six Big Ten wins were tied for their most in a season in school history.
• Iowa and Indiana are meeting as AP ranked opponents for the second time ever and the first time since 1991, when No. 10 Iowa defeated No. 25 Indiana, 38-21, at Kinnick Stadium.
• Iowa’s first two opponents are ranked in the AP Top 25 (No. 17 Indiana, No. 7 Iowa State). It marks the fourth time in program history the Hawkeyes have opened a season against consecutive opponents ranked in the AP Top 25 (1960, 1973, 1974). The Hawkeyes started 2-0 in 1960, 1-1 in 1974 and 0-2 in 1973.
• Four-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State begins its season on Thursday evening when it kicks off at Minnesota in primetime on FOX. The Buckeyes are coming off a 2020 season in which they defeated Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game, won the Allstate Sugar Bowl over Clemson and reached the College Football Playoff National Championship Game for the second straight year. Ohio State has been in the playoff four times, advancing to the title game twice.
• Minnesota is 96-35-6 all-time in season openers, including wins in four of their last five openers (3-1 under head coach P.J. Fleck). The Golden Gophers are 100-30-7 all-time in home openers with an identical stretch of four wins in their past five home openers (also 3-1 under Fleck). Minnesota is 8-4 in home openers since Huntington Bank Stadium opened in 2009.
• All six of the New Year’s Six bowl games have had a chance to host a semifinal game twice with the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl doing so three times. This year, the Cotton and Orange Bowls will serve as semifinal games. Last year, Alabama became the second-straight No. 1 seed to win the playoff. The No. 1 seed didn’t win a title in the first five years. The No. 2 seed has won it three times and the No. 4 seed has won it twice. The No. 3 seed has won just three playoff games in seven years with Ohio State winning one of those last season.
• The 2021 campaign features 120 All-Big Ten honorees (first-, second-, third-team or honorable mention) selected by either the coaches or the media last season. Iowa and Ohio State lead the West and East Divisions, respectively, each welcoming back 14 All-Big Ten honorees this season. The talent is split evenly as 60 of the returning all-conference players hail from both the East and West Divisions. Each team returns at least three All-Big Ten performers.
• The Big Ten finished last season with four teams ranked in the AP Top 25, tying for the most of any conference. Two teams finished in the Top 10 and all four finished in the Top 16. The 2021 AP Preseason Poll also featured five Big Ten teams in No. 4 Ohio State, No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 17 Indiana, No. 18 Iowa, and No. 19 Penn State, while Michigan and Northwestern are both receiving votes.
COURTESY BIG TEN COMMUNICATIONS