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The Big Ten Conference announced 2022 football schedule changes Wednesday that shifted the Gophers' challenge considerably.

The original schedule set up nicely for a strong Minnesota start, with six of the first seven games at home, and the lone road game in that stretch at Illinois. The toughest game, on paper, during that opening seven-game stretch appeared to be a home game against Iowa.

But without changing the teams on Minnesota's schedule, the Big Ten dramatically altered the picture.

The first change came in Week 4, when the Gophers were scheduled to play Iowa at home, Minnesota will now play at Michigan State. The Spartans went 11-2 last season.

In Week 5, the Gophers will play Purdue, 9-4 last season, instead of Rutgers.

The Gophers will have their bye during Week 6, instead of Week 9.

The game at Penn State got moved from Week 12 to Week 8.

And by shifting the Gophers' games against Nebraska and Iowa to later in the season, the Big Ten set up a November full of West Division showdowns. Minnesota's schedule to finish the regular season now goes: at Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, at Wisconsin.

Here is the new, updated Gophers 2022 schedule:

Sept. 1 — New Mexico State

Sept. 10 – Western Illinois

Sept. 17 — Colorado

Sept. 24 — at Michigan State

Oct. 1 — Purdue (Homecoming)

Oct. 8 — Bye Week

Oct. 15 — at Illinois

Oct. 22 — at Penn State

Oct. 29 — Rutgers

Nov. 5 — at Nebraska

Nov. 12 — Northwestern

Nov. 19 — Iowa

Nov. 26 — at Wisconsin

For comparison, here is the old version of the schedule:

Sept. 1 — New Mexico State

Sept. 10 — Western Illinois

Sept. 17 — Colorado

Sept. 24 — Iowa

Oct. 1 — Rutgers

Oct. 8 — at Illinois

Oct. 15 — Purdue

Oct. 22 — at Nebraska

Oct. 29 — Bye Week

Nov. 5 — at Michigan State

Nov. 12 — Northwestern

Nov. 19 at Penn State

Nov. 26 at Wisconsin

The full Big Ten schedule is below: