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Big Ten Champions Week final projections: Rutgers’ 2 potential matchups after Maryland win; rivalry games re- – nj.com

The Big Ten’s mystery week is almost here.

The conference will wrap up its eight-game scheduled regular season on Saturday — Rutgers has finished its slate with an emotional 27-24 overtime win at Maryland — and is expected to announce its Champions Week undercard matchups to run alongside the Big Ten Championship Game sometime Sunday or Monday.

It’s an interesting concept … that no one seems to know much, if anything, about. But here’s what we do know:

> Ohio State has won the East Division and will play in the Big Ten Championship Game after the conference did away with the six-game minimum rule to bail out the Buckeyes following the cancellation of their rivalry game against Michigan. Ohio State will meet Northwestern, the West champion, in the title game for the second time in three years.

> While nothing has been announced, both Minnesota and Wisconsin have signaled publicly a desire to re-schedule their rivalry game after it was canceled due to the Golden Gophers’ COVID-19 issues. It’s hard to imagine the Big Ten will stand in the way of a series that has been played every year since 1907 being played. The same goes for an Indiana-Purdue re-schedule, assuming both schools are ready to go after this week’s game was canceled due to virus issues on both sides.

> If there is a Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup and all 14 league members are healthy enough to play, as this projection will assume, the Big Ten will also need to re-scheduled a canceled East Division game. The two that are available to be re-scheduled are Maryland-Michigan State and Maryland-Michigan. It’s a coin flip as to which way the conference would go.

> When the league established the Champions Week concept in mid-September, it said the bonus games would be crossover matchups determined by the standings with every effort made to avoid rematches. The first two points have been dropped, but we will assume the latter stands and the conference will not have rematches.

> No one knows how home and away teams will be determined; we’re flying blind on that front.

With all that said, here are our best guesses for what Champions Week will look like:

Champions Week matchups with Michigan State-Maryland re-schedule:

  • Big Ten Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Northwestern
  • Purdue at Indiana
  • Minnesota at Wisconsin
  • Michigan State at Maryland
  • Michigan at Iowa
  • Penn State at Illinois
  • Rutgers at Nebraska

Champions Week matchups with Maryland-Michigan re-schedule:

  • Big Ten Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Northwestern
  • Purdue at Indiana
  • Minnesota at Wisconsin
  • Maryland at Michigan
  • Michigan State at Nebraska
  • Penn State at Illinois
  • Iowa at Rutgers

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James Kratch may be reached at jkratch@njadvancemedia.com.

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