Big Ten News: College Football Week 1
On August 23, the Big Ten Conference sent out the first press release of the 2021 NCAA college football season. Here are the main plots of the release.
The season kicks off on August 28 when the University of Nebraska travels to Champaign to face the University of Illinois. This match was supposed to be played in Dublin, Ireland, but the Covid-19 pandemic led to this contest being sent back to the United States. This is something to watch out for as Northwestern is set to play in Dublin in 2022.
The previous game is the only Big 10 contest played this weekend, and the rest of the teams will open the season the following weekend. Rutgers University opens its season on September 2 when it hosts Temple University and the University of Minnesota and Ohio State University also open the second. The rest of the conference teams, including the Wildcats, start their seasons on Friday 3 or Saturday 4. The Wildcats host Michigan State University on Friday night in a conference matchup, and the Big Ten’s other exclusive matches include Penn State University versus the University of Wisconsin and Indiana University versus the University of Iowa, with both competitions taking place on Saturday.
The conference announced its list of pre-season football honors for the 11th consecutive year. The 10 players on the roster return after being selected among the All-Big Ten for the 2020 season, and five players have been selected from each division. Wildcats defenseman Brandon Joseph has been selected in the West Division.
120 players who were named All-Big Ten winners of the 2020 season return to the grill in 2021. This includes players named in the first, second, third or honorable mention groups. Iowa and Ohio State are the leaders in the number of Distinguished Returning Players in the West and East Divisions respectively, with the 120 split evenly between the two divisions. The Wildcats return two, Joseph and offensive lineman Peter Skoronski.
The National College Football Awards Association has named 77 Big Ten athletes on the various watch lists for major awards. Penn State, Indiana and Ohio State had the most players on watchlists, and the Wildcats had nine featured players, including Joseph on three different watchlists.
New Head Coaches
There will only be one new head coach in the Big Ten, Illinois coach Bret Bielema. Bielema was previously the coach of Wisconsin and the University of Arkansas. The Wildcats will face Bielema for the first time on November 27.
Top 25 polls
The conference had four teams that finished in the Top 25 in 2020, including the Wildcats who finished at No. 10. In 2021, five teams are in the Top 25 to start the season. The Wildcats were not featured but received votes in the preseason poll. Both Wisconsin’s No.12 and Iowa’s No.18 are on the 2021 Wildcats roster.
Recap of the 2020 season
The Ohio State Buckeyes won the 2020 Big Ten Championship over the Wildcats 22-10. These two teams have won the East and West divisions respectively and are looking to repeat themselves as champions in 2021.
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