Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
Published 9:04 a.m. ET Aug. 5, 2020 | Updated 4:41 p.m. ET Aug. 5, 2020
Michigan State Spartans football coach Mel Tucker speaks to the media on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in East Lansing.
Detroit Free Press
If there is college football this fall, Mel Tucker’s debut at Michigan State won’t be against the opponent he expected.
But he also would face Michigan sooner than planned. And not in Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans are scheduled to open the 10-game revamped Big Ten-only season at home against Minnesota on Sept 5, the conference revealed Wednesday morning. They were originally supposed to begin the Tucker era that day at home against Northwestern.
MSU’s game against Michigan, originally scheduled for Oct. 10 in East Lansing, has been moved up a week to Oct. 3 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Spartans’ other marquee home game against Ohio State remains scheduled for Oct. 17, with a bye week now in between the game with the Wolverines. A 10th game at Nebraska was added for Nov. 21, the final week of the regular season.
Here is a look at the rest of the Spartans’ new schedule:
Sept. 5: Minnesota
Sept. 12: at Maryland
Sept. 19: Northwestern
Sept. 26: at Penn State
Oct. 3: at Michigan
Oct. 10: Bye
Oct. 17: Ohio State
Oct. 24: Rutgers
Oct. 31: at Iowa
Nov. 7: Indiana
Nov. 14: Bye
Nov. 21: at Nebraska
On July 9, the Big Ten became the first Power 5 conference to announce a plan to play only conference games in football and all other fall sports. The Pac-12 followed a day later and Friday announced its 10-game plan that is scheduled to begin Sept. 26, with preseason camps permitted to start Aug. 17.
The Atlantic Coast Conference (along with Notre Dame) revealed last week it plans to play 10 conference games and one nonconference opponent this fall, with hope of beginning competition the week of Sept. 7.
The Southeastern Conference announced on Thursday it plans to play 10 games only against conference opponents, with Sept. 26 targeted for the first game. SEC practices are set to open Aug. 17.
The Big 12 revealed Monday its plans for a 10-game schedule, nine against conference opponents and one nonconference game.
All five of the major football conferences have said players who choose to opt out of playing this season will retain their scholarships and remain in good standing with their respective programs.
However, a group of Pac-12 players have threatened to boycott if a season is played. Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons will not play this season due to concerns over the safety of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic and both will begin preparing for the 2021 NFL draft. And Connecticut — an independent — became the first Football Bowl Subdivision program to cancel its football season, about 30 minutes before the Big Ten’s announcement Wednesday.
Tucker, who coached one year at Colorado, was already off to a delayed start with the Spartans even before the pandemic.
MSU hired Tucker on Feb. 12 to replace Mark Dantonio, who retired eight days earlier as the school’s winningest coach after 13 seasons. The Spartans’ first spring workouts under their new coach were canceled in mid-March when the NCAA shut down team activities, four days before practice was scheduled to commence.
Then, on July 22, MSU’s summer workouts were halted and Tucker and his team went into a 14-day quarantine after a player and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. That quarantine was scheduled to expire Tuesday.
The Spartans are coming off a 7-6 season and a win over Wake Forest in the Pinstripe Bowl in Dantonio’s final game.