And the Wolverines now know who they will play.
The conference released its full schedule Saturday morning, and while there are some differences between the previous conference-only schedule that was announced in August, a lot held to form.
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Some key differences: Instead of opening the season at Purdue, the Wolverines will travel to Minneapolis to battle for the Little Brown Jug — their first time playing at Minnesota since 2015, Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach.
"The Game" has moved back to its normal slot at the end of the regular season, but not Thanksgiving weekend because of the later start to the season.
Here's an early breakdown of the Wolverines' new 2020 schedule:
Oct. 24: at Minnesota
The Golden Gophers had a breakout 2019, finishing 11-2 and No. 2 in the Big Ten West. There have been some changes since then: Minnesota's top receiver Tyler Johnson and top defender Antoine Winfield Jr. are both in the NFL now, and offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca — the brains behind an offense that averaged 34.1 points and 432 yards per game — left for Penn State. Still, this should be a tough opener.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan, who threw for 30 touchdowns and had the Big Ten's second-best passer efficiency rating (178.7), is back, and so is receiver Rashod Bateman, a top NFL prospect who opted out for the NFL draft before announcing this week that he plans to opt back in. Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last fall and could present a problem for U-M's young secondary.
Oct. 31: vs. Michigan State
Michigan handled their in-state rivals Spartans at home last season in a 44-10 victory, and this year's matchup could look completely different. Mark Dantonio is gone, and so are numerous multi-year starters like Kenny Willekes, Joe Bachie and Brian Lewerke. The Spartans may not be as talented as in years past, but this game still holds the same importance for them, and a win would mean a lot for first-year coach Mel Tucker and his recruiting efforts. As it stands, though, U-M's roster looks like it'll have an edge.
Nov. 7: at Indiana
Indiana usually plays Michigan tough, but the Wolverines blew out the Hoosiers, 39-14, in Bloomington last fall. The top performers in that game — quarterback Shea Patterson, receiver Nico Collins and edge-rusher Josh Uche — are all gone, but U-M should still have enough to get the job done. The key matchup: U-M's secondary against Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who won the starting job last season and completed 68.8% of his passes for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 157.6 would've finished third in the Big Ten had Penix had enough attempts to qualify. But he struggled with injuries and missed much of the season.
Nov. 14: vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers and Wolverines have gone back-and-forth over the past four years, with the home team winning each time. And aside from the first game, a 14-7 Michigan win at home in 2016, every contest has been markedly one-sided. Wisconsin no longer has star running back Jonathan Taylor, who gave U-M nightmares last season or top edge-rusher Zach Baun; the Badgers do return quarterback Jack Coan, who impressed in his first season as the starter. And it's a good bet that coach Paul Chryst will have the run game operating smoothly. This will be a test for Michigan's defensive front, which struggled to defend the run in last season's 35-14 loss.
Nov. 21: at Rutgers
This will likely be the easiest game on Michigan's schedule, the Scarlet Knights have been the worst team in the conference since joining the Big Ten, and they have hit the reset button once again, with Greg Schiano taking over as head coach for the second time in his career. While Schiano took the program to unprecedented heights during his first run in Piscataway, this rebuild will be more difficult.
Nov. 28: vs. Penn State
Like with Wisconsin, U-M has traded victories with Penn State after Harbaugh won his first two games against the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines couldn't pull off an improbable comeback at Penn State last fall, and the loss essentially ended Michigan's hopes of winning a Big Ten title, just as the 2017 loss in Happy Valley. This fall, the Wolverines could play the spoiler to a Penn State squad that hopes to compete with Ohio State for the conference title. The Nittany Lions lost electric playmaker K.J. Hamler, the biggest reason they beat Michigan last fall, but return quarterback Sean Clifford and star tight end Pat Freiermuth. This game would become even more difficult for the Wolverines if linebacker Micah Parsons decides to opt back in for Penn State.
Dec. 5: vs. Maryland
Like Rutgers, this will be one of the easiest games on the schedule for Michigan. The Wolverines have not lost to the Terrapins during Harbaugh's tenure and have never really come close to doing so. While Michigan has a relatively young and inexperienced roster, it would be very surprising if this was a close game.
Dec. 12: at Ohio State
It would've been weird to see these two teams play before the end of the regular season, as the Big Ten's previous schedule had planned. Like with every other year, this is easily Michigan's most talented opponent. The Buckeyes had some players opt out — but guard Wyatt Davis and cornerback Shaun Wade both plan to opt back in. Those two have first-round potential, and their return would make this matchup even more difficult for the Wolverines. And, of course, star quarterback Justin Fields — who will have a real chance at winning the Heisman Trophy — is back for his second (and most likely final) season in Columbus.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football's new schedule: Many tests for inexperienced roster