Ohio State faces Nebraska as part of Big Ten start on Oct. 24

National title contender Ohio State opens its season at home against Nebraska on Oct. 24, the Big Ten announced Saturday.

Other first-week games include Michigan at Minnesota, Penn State at Indiana, Iowa at Purdue, Illinois at Wisconsin, Rutgers at Michigan State and Maryland at Northwestern.

Each team will attempt to play eight games in eight weeks, leaving no wiggle room during the coronavirus pandemic before the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 19. That date also will feature an extra cross-division game for each school, with seeded teams in each division squaring off.

The Big Ten would complete its season before the Dec. 20 Selection Day for the College Football Playoff.

The conference announced Thursday it was reinstating the season after initially postponing the season on Aug. 11.

After protests, petitions, letters from parents of players and even a lawsuit from eight Nebraska football players, the conference reconsidered and was comfortable enough to resume the season.

A major factor in that decision came with access to daily antigen testing and cardiac screening for all 14 Big Ten teams that will be used with new protocols throughout the season to ensure player safety.

"The key thing in our focus has been and will always be to make sure that the health and safety of our student-athletes is put at the top of our list," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday.

The Buckeyes are looking for another berth in the College Football Playoff and another opportunity to compete for a Big Ten championship. Ohio State will have one of its toughest tests in its second game, when it travels to Happy Valley to play Penn State.

The last time these two played at Penn State, the crowd was a big factor, with a sold-out stadium, but that won't be the case this season, with no public tickets being sold.

Penn State is hoping to spoil Ohio State's chances at the playoff, though, and eventually will play Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State to finish out the season.

The Buckeyes have one of the easier paths to the conference championship game after that Week 2 matchup with Penn State. Ohio State plays Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State and then closes with rival Michigan.

The Wolverines will have a new quarterback in either Joe Milton or Cade McNamara and have a difficult path to a winning season. The Wolverines open at Minnesota, then play in-state rival Michigan State in Week 2, take on Wisconsin in Week 4, face Penn State in Week 6 and close out with Ohio State.

Jim Harbaugh has yet to beat the Buckeyes since taking over as Michigan's head coach.

The teams competing for that spot in the conference championship game in the West division will likely be Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those two teams play each other in Week 6, which could be a pivotal matchup in deciding which team gets to represent the division in that final game.

The Cornhuskers have one of the more difficult schedules of any Big Ten team, starting with the Buckeyes and followed by Wisconsin, Northwestern and Penn State.