Ken Lund (Flickr)
After months of restless anticipation in the hopes of seeing their teams play amidst a global pandemic, Big Ten and Mountain West fans need not wait any longer. Their fall football schedules open up this weekend Oct. 23 and Oct. 24.
Both conferences have agreed to play eight, conference-only games with no bye weeks in order to meet criteria for eligibility in postseason play. This means that there is no room for schedule changes once the season is underway as the Big Ten and Mountain West championship games take place on Dec. 19, just one day before the College Football Playoff selection.
The Big Ten has implemented a rule on the forcible cancellation of games through the testing of 170 essential personnel at each university.
“Teams that reach a positivity rate above 5% are required to pause practices and games for at least seven days,” the policy states.
At this time, most teams have decided to play their games without fans in the stadium and there will likely be no changes to this decision. However, some teams, like Michigan and Michigan State, are trying to find a way to allow families to be permitted to attend games.
Prior to the two conferences deciding to play an eight-week season, both had chosen to postpone their seasons due to fears over the coronavirus and had begun looking into having a season that would have begun during spring 2021.
Of the Power Five conferences, the Big Ten was the first conference to announce their decision to postpone the fall football season followed closely by the Pac-12, who recently decided to resume play on Nov. 7.
For the time being, Big Ten football players are being tested daily. A three-week quarantine is required upon receiving a positive COVID test result.
Sports Medicine Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin, Michael Moll, gave his insight on the Big Ten’s motives for such stringent testing.
“The message that we’ve tried to encourage our student-athletes to understand is to take every precaution to try to avoid this right now.”
Some of the marquee early-season Big Ten matchups include Nebraska at Ohio State on Saturday and a Great Lake State grudge match, Michigan State at Michigan on Oct.30.