Big Ten will start play Sept. 5 with 10-game conference schedule
The Big Ten championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5 in Indianapolis, but could be pushed back to Dec. 19 if health conditions warrant.
Big Ten teams will play 10 conference games and begin the season on Sept. 5should teams be able to safely compete, the conference said Wednesday.
The announcement sets the parameters for a regular season that eliminates all non-conference play and adds in an additional off week to provide the highest degree of scheduling flexibility in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Developing consistent medical protocols and testing procedures for the health and safety of our student-athletes and our athletic programs is critical,” said Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “Our Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and local, state, and national experts have provided guidelines throughout our decision-making process with our student athletes’ health and safety as our first and foremost concern.”
Within the past week, two Big Ten programs, Rutgers and Northwestern, have chosen to postpone team workouts amid outbreaks among athletes and coaches. Michigan State’s team was placed in quarantine after an outbreak last month.
Among the significant changes, rivalry games — usually played later in the season — will be moved forward in the schedule. The annual Ohio State-Michigan game that traditionally takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving is now set tobe played Oct. 24. Wisconsin and Minnesota are scheduled to play Sept. 26.
There are two bye weeks within the schedule to allow for flexibility. The Big Ten championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5 in Indianapolis, but could be pushed back to Dec. 19 if health conditions warrant.
The release comes nearly a month after the Big Ten became the first conference to announce changes to this season’s schedule. The Pac-12 quickly echoed the Big Ten’s decision, followed by the ACC, SEC and Big 12.
While the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC have decided to play only league games, the ACC and Big 12 will allow teams to play one non-conference game. ACC teams may play a non-conference opponent “in the home state of the ACC institution,” the league said, while non-conference games in the Big 12 must be played at home.
With the Big Ten now official, every Power Five conference has announced an altered schedule. Conference are currently staggered in terms of start dates, with the SEC scheduled to open play on Sept. 26 and others earlier in the month. One Group of Five league, the Sun Belt, is allowing teams to begin play on Aug. 29. In the Big 12, Oklahoma and Kansas currently have games scheduled against Championship Subdivision opponents on Aug. 29, but those games could be pushed back with the league schedule likely starting Sept. 19 or 26.
Teams in every conference are preparing to take the next step in preseason workouts. Since returning to campuses in early June, athletes have engaged in voluntary team workouts and participated in training programs. Teams will be able to begin full practices this month.
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