Illinois football season-opener moved to Friday night

By Gavin Good

The Big Ten announced kickoff times for the conference’s opening week of football games on Monday, and that announcement came with a bit of a surprise for Illinois.

Instead of opening the season on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Wisconsin, the Illini will face the No. 16 Badgers a day earlier, under the lights on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium.

Wisconsin is seeking to avenge last season’s 24-23 loss in Champaign, when Illinois kicker James McCourt nailed a game-winning field goal as time expired to stun the then-No. 6 Badgers.

Illinois has never begun a football season this late in the year. According to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the program’s pervious latest start was Oct. 19, 1907, a 42-6 loss to the University of Chicago.

The Big Ten also announced the kickoff times for 11 other games. The Illini still have eight games with to-be-decided kickoff times, included the home-opener against Purdue on Halloween.

The conference has also announced that there will be no public sales of tickets for the 2020 football season, and that only working personnel and the family of players and staff will be allowed in stadiums. However, due to Wisconsin public health guidelines, Illinois will not have any family members of players and staff in attendance.