While I was busy preparing for turkey dinner and pumpkin pie, as if I need to prepare to eat, two more Big Ten programs officially released their schedules. Michigan State and Penn State made their 2010 plans known to the public.
The Spartans have a very solid non-conference slate next year. They will take on the likes of Clemson, Louisville, West Virginia, Mississippi State (twice), Alabama and Notre Dame (three games in South Bend). I'll allow you to check the docket for a complete list of opponents and dates.
Michigan State's first home stand in 2010 comes versus Oakland University on March 26. The Big Ten campaign will also open at McLane Stadium against Iowa. Ohio State, Illinois and Indiana will all travel to East Lansing. Michigan also comes calling, but as a non-conference game, on May 11. The Spartans will return the favor and visit Ann Arbor the next day.
Coach Boss' club will face Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue and Northwestern on the road in conference action.
In Happy Valley, the non-conference portion of Penn State's schedule features a swing through the Lone Star State. Coach Wine's team will take on McNeese State, Dallas Baptist, Lamar (twice), Texas A&M (twice) and Texas State (three times). Other notable opponents include Notre Dame, Winthrop and three games at three different venues versus Kent State.
PSU will return to open the home slate versus Hofstra on March 26. The Nittany Lions' Big Ten season will begin on the road at Illinois. Purdue, Ohio State and Minnesota will be the other conference road trips. Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan will make the trek to Lubrano Park in 2010.
What I like about both these schedules are the opportunities. There are games against some of college baseball's traditional powers. There are other contests versus solid programs that offer plenty of RPI-value. Both Michigan State and Penn State will also get a shot to play Ohio State and Minnesota, who we can safely assume will be the preseason favorites to finish 1-2 in the Big Ten.
Basically, both programs can play themselves into at-large NCAA Tournament berths with these kinds of slates. It's up to them to win the games.