The last two years, Iowa-Penn State has been a prime-time football game on ABC.
This year's Oct. 8 matchup between the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions in State College? Day game.
In fact, Iowa isn't slated to make a prime-time appearance in September or October. Yet.
ABC/ESPN announced its September/October schedule of prime-time games. As could have been predicted with ease, the Ohio State-Nebraska clash in Lincoln is the Big Ten's prime-time game of Oct. 8, not Iowa-Penn State.
None of Iowa's other games those two months are what you would call national-television worthy. And know, the Iowa-Penn State game of '09 was ABC's lowest-rated Saturday night game of that year.
Also know these things:
a) Iowa hosts Michigan and Michigan State in November. So those are obvious ABC/ESPN possibilities if the Hawkeyes and/or the two Michigan teams are in the thick of things in the Big Ten title race.
b) The Big Ten Network hasn't announced its schedule of prime-time games yet. Every Big Ten team will have at least one night game. Iowa could and probably will have an October game on the BTN.
I'm predicting Iowa's home game against Northwestern on Oct. 15 will be at night, though I have nothing to substantiate that guess. My logic, if you want to call it that:
There is no Big Ten prime-time game that day on ABC/ESPN, and I would think that day's Michigan-Michigan State game would be a natural for the league's 2:30 (Central time) slot since it isn't pegged for night. No other game that day looks any more compelling than Wildcats-Hawkeyes. The others are Ohio State-Illinois, Indiana-Wisconsin and Purdue-Penn State. Plus, it would take care of Northwestern's prime-time appearance.
The ABC/ESPN Big Ten game on Oct. 22 is Wisconsin-Michigan State, which isn't a super-strong pairing to America even though they were co-champs of the conference last year. So it's possible the Indiana-Iowa game that day would be on prime-time on the BTN. Indiana has to be on at night sometime.
But I'm going with Northwestern-Iowa. Which is just what Hawkeye fans would eed. As if they didn't have enough pent-up (and not pent-up) irritation with the Wildcats, you put that game under the lights with the additional several hours of, uh, "preparation" time? Oh boy.
Here are the announced ABC/ESPN night games:
UNLV at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Notre Dame at Michigan, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nebraska at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
Notre Dame at Purdue, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
Ohio State at Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
Wisconsin at Michigan State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
Wisconsin at Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2
09/03/11 vs. Tennessee Tech Iowa City, IA TBA
09/10/11 at Iowa State Ames, IA TBA
09/17/11 vs. Pittsburgh Iowa City, IA TBA
09/24/11 vs. Louisiana-Monroe Iowa City, IA TBA
10/08/11 at Penn State * University Park, PA TBA
10/15/11 vs. Northwestern * Iowa City, IA TBA
10/22/11 vs. Indiana * Iowa City, IA TBA
10/29/11 at Minnesota * Minneapolis, MN TBA
11/05/11 vs. Michigan * Iowa City, IA TBA
11/12/11 vs. Michigan State * Iowa City, IA TBA
11/19/11 at Purdue * West Lafayette, IN TBA11/25/11 at Nebraska * Lincoln, NE TBA