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Big Ten football schedule released; Gophers open with 4-game gauntlet

Non-conference games aren't happening this year, so it's straight into the teeth of the Big Ten for Minnesota.
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There still aren't any guarantees that the college football season will go on as planned, but the Big Ten took an encouraging step on Wednesday by releasing the 10-game conference schedule. 

Minnesota will open Sept. 3-5 – a precise date yet to be announced – on the road against Michigan State. They'll follow that up with back-to-back home games against Big Ten powers Michigan and Iowa, then travel to Madison for a date with rival Wisconsin. 

It's a brutal start to the schedule for the Gophers, who are still in shock from Tuesday's announcement that wide receiver Rashod Bateman has opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic. Bateman has already hired an agent and is preparing for the NFL Draft. 

Making Minnesota's opening four-game gauntlet even more difficult is the fact that non-conference games were wiped from the schedule in July as a COVID-19 safety measure, meaning the Gophers won't have any tune ups before stepping onto the field. 

“If the conference is able to participate in fall sports ... based on medical advice, it will move to conference-only schedules in those sports," Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said July 9. 

After the four-game stretch to start the schedule, Minnesota will play in Lincoln against Nebraska. At that point, the schedule appears to soften with home games against Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern, and road games against Illinois and Maryland. Mix in a pair of bye weeks and the Gophers certainly have an easier path in October and November. 

Sept. 3-5 – at Michigan State

Sept. 12: vs. Michigan

Sept. 19: vs. Iowa

Sept. 26: at Wisconsin

Oct. 3: at Nebraska

Oct. 10: vs. Indiana

Oct. 17: BYE

Oct. 24: vs. Purdue

Oct. 31: at Illinois

Nov. 7: BYE

Nov. 14: vs. Northwestern

Nov. 21: at Maryland

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