When the 2020 Big Ten opener kicks off next Friday evening for the Illini football team, it will seek to change a historical trend that’s plagued the program for the last quarter century.
Unfortunately, only three times over the last 25 years has Illinois begun the conference season with a victory: at home against Nebraska in 2015, at home against Northwestern in 2011 and at Indiana in 2007.
For the first time since 1919, schedule makers have determined that Illinois’ slate will consist only of conference games. That, of course, means that the season opener at No. 16 Wisconsin also will be the Big Ten opener. Altogether, it’s the eighth time that the Illini and the Badgers have met in league lid-lifters. In those prior matchups, each team is 3-3-1. Illinois and Wisconsin haven’t played their first Big Ten game against one another since 1952.