Are you ready for some Big Ten football in early September?
Well, in four years you’d better be, because that’s when the Gophers will open their season with a home game against Ohio State on Sept. 5, 2021.
The Big Ten on Tuesday announced its conference football schedules for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and that 2021 matchup with the Buckeyes is the change that jumps out involving the Gophers.
But there are others in the nine-game Big Ten slate for Minnesota in those two years:
• In 2020 and ’21, the Gophers and Wisconsin will meet Oct. 10 and Oct. 9, respectively, going away from the regular season-ending battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe of the past three years. Instead, Minnesota will meet Nebraska in the regular-season finale in 2020 and ’21.
• The matchup between the Gophers and Iowa for Floyd of Rosedale will happen Sept. 19 (the Big Ten opener) in 2020 and Nov. 13 in 2021. Minnesota will battle Michigan for the Little Brown Jug in 2020 (Oct. 17) but not in 2021.
• In 2020, the Gophers’ Big Ten home games are Iowa, Michigan, Purdue and Northwestern, while they travel to Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State and Nebraska. The Gophers have a nonconference home game against Brigham Young on Sept. 26 and have two nonconference openings.
• In 2021, the Gophers’ home games are Ohio State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Illinois and Nebraska. They visit Purdue, Northwestern, Iowa and Indiana. The Gophers travel to Colorado on Sept. 18 and have two nonconference openings.
The medical sales field’s loss is the Gophers’ gain.
Conor Rhoda, named the Gophers’ starting quarterback Monday, was a week from seeking employment in that field last year after he was told by then-coach Tracy Claeys that his scholarship would not be renewed. But Claeys was fired, and P.J. Fleck was hired. One of Fleck’s first moves was to invite Rhoda back to the team, and the former walk-on and Cretin-Derham Hall standout accepted.
“Going through everything I’ve gone through over the last five years, there’s a lot of days I never thought this would happen,” said Rhoda, who will have the starting job to himself Saturday against Middle Tennessee. “It really brings everything full circle. It shows all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Said Fleck: “He’s sacrificed a lot, given up a lot. … He’s one of those guys who will be able to tell a story one day to his kids and grandkids about never giving up.”