Two Michigan football night games this year: at Rutgers and at Iowa – Detroit Free Press
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If Michigan won’t host its own night football games, which AD Warde Manuel confirmed last month, television networks will find another way to get the Wolverines in prime time.
According to the Big Ten today, Michigan will play night games at Rutgers on Oct. 8 (7 or 8 p.m.) and at Iowa on Nov. 12 (8 p.m.),as part of the ESPN TV package. The Big Ten Network has not yet released its 2016 night games, but U-M’s other two road games — at Michigan State and Ohio State — have been ruled out by those schools.
The Rutgers game could work in the Wolverines’ favor. Michigan has recruited New Jersey heavily, with six signees this year alone. The Wolverines are involved with a number of New Jersey prospects for the 2017 class, and having that game at night means most should be able to attend, even as Rutgers invitees.
Michigan and Rutgers also played at night in Piscataway, N.J., in 2014. The Scarlet Knights won, 26-24, sending the Wolverines to an 0-2 Big Ten start, their worst in more than 50 years. It was a major step toward the eventual firing of coach Brady Hoke.
With the new nine-game Big Ten schedule this year, the Rutgers matchup will be the third conference game for the Wolverines but their first on the road.
Former U-M cornerback Ross Douglas, who transferred to Rutgers, was excited about the news today.
Facing Iowa at night also revives memories — of the the 2009 game that Iowa survived, 30-28 — and this one will be circled by the home fans. Iowa has designated the game as its “blackout” night at which all fans are encouraged to wear black. Of course, given that it’s on Nov. 12 — and the last November game U-M played in Iowa, in 2014, was one of the coldest in Kinnick Stadium history — there might be more winter coats than black shirts in the stands.
“Our two prime-time games in Kinnick Stadium last season proved to be outstanding games and were very well received by our fans,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a released statement. “Most importantly, we came away with two important wins. The electricity surrounding the home-field advantage was definitely a factor.”
The Hawkeyes are coming off of an appearance in the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl, so it should be a big game.
According to ratings compiled by sportsmediawatch.com, seven of Michigan’s 13 games last season ranked in the top five of total viewership in their respective weeks. And projected by many pundits to be even better than last season’s 10-3 squad — USA TODAY Sports’ early rankings places the Wolverines at No. 3 — there is even more appeal in 2016.
The whole ABC/ESPN Big Ten prime-time schedule:
Oct. 8 – Michigan at Rutgers, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 7 or 8 p.m.
Oct. 15 – Ohio State at Wisconsin, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8 p.m.
Oct. 22 – Ohio State at Penn State, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8 p.m.
Oct. 29 – Nebraska at Wisconsin, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 7 or 8 or 9 p.m.
Oct. 29 – Northwestern at Ohio State, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 5 – Nebraska at Ohio State, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8 p.m.
Nov. 12 – Michigan at Iowa, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2, 8 p.m.