The Big Ten released conference football schedules for 2020 and 2021 on Tuesday, showing the paths Michigan State will have to take to win a championship.
You can see those schedules here, with nonconference games included, as well as the finalized slates for 2018 and 2019. The Spartans will play four road games in conference play in 2020 and five in 2021.
The conference opener will be the season opener for Michigan State in both years. The last time that happened, the Spartans beat Purdue to kick off the 1996 season. They will host Northwestern in 2020 and face the Wildcats on the road in 2021.
Michigan State’s rivalry games will both be played at home in 2020, with the Spartans hosting Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks in October. They’ll face both teams on the road in 2021, with a home game against Penn State fit in between.
Had that stretch fit into this season, it would be brutal. We’ll have to wait and see how tough it looks a few years from now.
In both seasons, Michigan State will miss out on facing the current class and cellar of the Big Ten West: Wisconsin and Illinois, respectively. This could prove to be a blessing down the road if the Badgers stay hot and coach Lovie Smith gets things going with the Illini.
In both cases, the conference schedule looks relatively front-loaded. But in the Big Ten East, teams seldom find an easy game.
It may be too early to predict just how tough some teams will be when 2020 and 2021 come around, but the openers against Northwestern will be crucial regardless. Michigan State has won nine straight season openers, but none have come against Power 5 competition. Fortunately for the Spartans, it’s an inter-divisional game, so a loss wouldn’t hinder their chances of making the Big Ten Championship quite as much.
A look at MSU's future schedules: pic.twitter.com/0YPvEUtyvi
— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) September 12, 2017