College Football

Iowa football to face Wisconsin in 2020, 2021 regular-season finales

Iowa and Wisconsin will face each other to close the 2020 and 2021 seasons. (The Gazette)
Iowa and Wisconsin will face each other to close the 2020 and 2021 seasons. (The Gazette)

Black Friday is now someone else’s headache. Or tradition. Or however you look at it.

The Big Ten conference released league football schedules for 2020-21 on Tuesday and the big change is the Hawkeyes won’t face Nebraska in their season finale.

Iowa and Wisconsin will end the season together in 2020-21.

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Tuesday the change is simply a rotational device that has long been part of the league's scheduling.

"It's just a rotational thing, there's no conspiracy," Barta said. "We don't sit around and say who we'd like to play. It rotates based on whatever the scheduling computer kicks out and then the Big Ten looks at it and makes sure it's as fair as possible over a long period of time."

By the time the current rotation runs its course, the Hawkeyes and Huskers, who will close with Minnesota in 2020-21, will have finished the season against each other for nine consecutive seasons. Going back to 1999, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz's first in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have finished with Minnesota eight times, Wisconsin twice and Iowa State (2001 due to 9/11) and Western Michigan once.

"Personally, I like playing on Black Friday, Ferentz said. "It's great for a lot of reasons. ... Believe it or not, that little window of Friday, especially when you play at home, guys can walk out of here Friday before 6 p.m., and the ones that live locally get to go home and maybe eat some turkey with their family and stuff like that."

The future of any Black Friday games will need to be addressed by the Big Ten. On the schedules released Tuesday, all Big Ten finales are scheduled for the last Saturday of the season.

This could change, Barta said. It could even change between the Hawkeyes and Badgers.

"Nothing has been decided on whether we'll play the Wisconsin game on Friday or Saturday," Barta said. That's to be determined."

Barta said Black Friday discussions begin with the Big Ten, then route through the TV networks and finally the schools.

"Anything that would look like that with Wisconsin (a Black Friday game) going forward would work that way," Barta said. "It would be the Big Ten, TV, it would be us and Wisconsin. But that hasn't occurred yet.

Obviously, it's impossible to poll Iowa fans on this, but Kinnick attendance has been healthy for the three Black Friday games it's played host to. None of Iowa's three Black Friday home games have sold out; the Hawkeyes have averaged 68,838 fans at home against Nebraska.

Kinnick's capacity is 70,585. In 2012, attendance was 69,805, in '14 it was 66,897 and last year 69,814 attended.

"I received some feedback (from fans) that says they love that game," Barta said. "I've received some from others saying it's too hard to build that into our family Thanksgiving. Kirk's been telling me from the beginning that from the student-athlete standpoint, it gives them that long weekend off and that's a positive."

The Badgers (2014, 2016) and Hawkeyes (2015) have been in the Big Ten championship game since the conference moved to East and West divisions. Wisconsin has played in the league title game in four of its six years.

Wisconsin leads the series 45-43-2. The teams began playing for the Heartland trophy in 2004. 

Wisconsin has ended the season against Minnesota in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe since 2014. The Badgers haven't lost to the Gophers since 2003.

Iowa will host Nebraska Nov. 14, 2020 and travel to Lincoln Nov. 6, 2021, with the Heroes trophy still in play.

Watch: Kirk Ferentz on Big Ten schedule change

The Hawkeyes open the 2020 Big Ten schedule at Minnesota on Sept. 19. In 2021, the league slate begins early for the Hawkeyes, as Indiana visits Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 4. The next Big Ten game that year won't come until Oct. 2 at Northwestern.

Iowa's cross-division opponents are Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State in 2020 and Indiana, Penn State and Maryland in 2021.

Iowa football 2020 Big Ten schedule

Sept. 19: at Minnesota

Oct. 3: Michigan State

Oct. 10: at Ohio State

Oct. 17: at Penn State

Oct. 24: Northwestern

Nov. 7: at Illinois

Nov. 14: Nebraska

Nov. 21: at Purdue

Nov. 28: Wisconsin

Iowa football 2021 Big Ten schedule

Sept. 4: Indiana

Oct. 2: at Northwestern

Oct. 9: Penn State

Oct. 23: at Maryland

Oct. 30: Purdue

Nov. 6: at Nebraska

Nov. 13: Minnesota

Nov. 20: Illinois

Nov. 27: at Wisconsin

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