Network to televise eight Big Ten games under the lights

CHICAGO The Big Ten Network’s eight-game, 2009 primetime football schedule will feature the grand opening of Minnesota’s brand-new TCF Bank Stadium, the first-ever Thursday night game at Indiana’s newly renovated Memorial Stadium, and Wisconsin’s season opener. The schedule also includes four intra-conference matchups in October.

“This is our strongest primetime schedule to date,” Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said. “When you couple that with the fact that there is always an added air of excitement for night games, we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Seven of the conference’s teams will participate in a night game on the Big Ten Network. In all, the network will televise approximately 40 games this fall. Every game will be presented in high definition.

Start times for other early-season games will be announced at a later date.

When the network produces simultaneous games, it will split the feeds regionally to allow Big Ten fans to watch the game with the most regional interest. In addition, many network affiliates will carry the additional games via “overflow channels,” which are only available on football Saturdays. Fans can check local listings, their on-screen channel guide or during game week to find channel assignments for specific games.

Big Ten Network’s 2009 Primetime Schedule

Thursday, September 3
Indiana vs. Eastern Kentucky, 8 PM ET
A national television audience will get its first look at newly renovated Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The game will mark the first Thursday game in Memorial Stadium’s history.

Saturday, September 5
Wisconsin vs. Northern Illinois, 7 PM ET
The Badgers will host Northern Illinois in their season opener at Camp Randall Stadium. Wisconsin has won 10 of 11 meetings between the schools, which are separated by just 100 miles.

Saturday, September 12
Minnesota vs. Air Force, 7 PM ET
Minnesota will unveil its new 50,000-seat home, TCF Bank Stadium, under the lights and in front of a national television audience against the Air Force Academy. The Golden Gophers and Falcons have never met on the gridiron. Minnesota is seeking its second-straight bowl appearance under head coach Tim Brewster.

Illinois vs. Illinois State, 7 PM ET
Illinois will host in-state opponent Illinois State at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 12. The Fighting Illini have faced the Redbirds only twice, meeting in 2003 and 1944.

Saturday, October 3
Indiana vs. Ohio State, 7 PM ET
The Buckeyes will travel to Bloomington to face the Hoosiers. The two teams haven’t met since 2006, due to the Big Ten scheduling rotation. Indiana will seek its first victory against Ohio State since 1988, when the Hoosiers were led by coach Bill Mallory.

Saturday, October 17
Indiana vs. Illinois, 7 PM ET
For the second straight year, Indiana and Illinois will tangle in primetime on the Big Ten Network. Illinois prevailed in last year’s meeting in Champaign. The Illini have won the last two meetings, but the teams split the last six games in the series. The game will be Indiana’s third and final Big Ten Network primetime game.

Saturday, October 24
Michigan State vs. Iowa, 7 PM ET
Spartan Stadium will be the scene for a late-October matchup that could be critical to the Big Ten standings. Both Michigan State and Iowa share common preseason storylines. Both teams are coming off Jan. 1 bowl appearances and must find replacements for star running backs this offseason. The home team has won nine straight games in this series.

Saturday, October 31
Minnesota vs. Michigan State, 8 PM ET
Michigan State will play a primetime game for a second straight week as the Spartans travel for a Halloween night matchup at TCF Bank Stadium. Third-year head coaches Mark Dantonio of Michigan State and Tim Brewster of Minnesota will square off for the first time in the first meeting between the teams since 2006.