For more than three weeks, the Illinois Fighting Illini have known that they were opening the 2020 Big Ten Conference football season on the road at the Wisconsin Badgers.
On Monday, Illinois learned that its season opener in Madison, Wis., will not only be the first game on the Big Ten Conference slate this season but it will be under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Illini and the Badgers, rated No. 16 in the nation, will play on Friday night, Oct. 23, in a 7 p.m. contest on the Big Ten Network.
"To be the first game to start Big Ten play is pretty exciting,'' said Illinois coach Lovie Smith. "Whenever you get a chance to play at night, that's a good thing, also. Last year, we had a great game against the Badgers, looking forward to playing them again. We're pumped up to know now when we start our season and we can really gear ourselves towards a week from Friday.''
When Smith talks about last year's game, it was the signature win of the 2019 Fighting Illini season. Illinois stunned Wisconsin, 24-23, at Memorial Stadium when kicker James McCourt drilled a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The rest of opening week schedule for the Big Ten will take place on Saturday, Oct. 24. Purdue will host Iowa in a 3:30 p.m. (Eastern) contest at Ross-Ade Stadium that will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, while Indiana will host Penn State in a 3:30 p.m. (Eastern) game that will be shown on the Fox Sports 1.
The Illinois-Wisconsin game is one of five conference games that will be played on Friday this season. The others are Minnesota at Maryland on Oct. 30, Iowa at Minnesota on Nov. 13, Purdue at Minnesota on Nov. 20, and Nebraska at Iowa on Nov. 27.