The Big Ten formally announced its football schedule for the 2020 season after finalizing plans for a return to play.
Teams will play an 8-game, conference-only slate beginning on October 24. All teams will then partake in a newly created “Big Tens Champion Weekend” the weekend of December 19.
The Big Ten Conference announced today the schedule for the 2020 football season, including an eight-game Conference-only schedule starting the weekend of October 24 plus a ninth game for all 14 teams during a newly created Big Ten Champions Week the weekend of December 19. pic.twitter.com/jaDXMhh2C8
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) September 19, 2020
The schedule was always going to take some rearranging, considering the conference previously postponed football to the spring.
But the revised schedule is interesting on a number of levels. Teams like Wisconsin and Ohio State–typically conference powerhouses–seemingly have a fairly friendly schedule, whereas teams like Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska all have to play both the Badgers and Buckeyes.
Secondly, how will the ninth game work? Champions from the East and West figure to meet to decide the Big Ten champion. But how will the rest of the matchups be determined, particularly if there are ties in record? Seeding will be an interesting measure.
In any case, Big Ten football is returning next month. However, there are also procedures in place in the event teams in the conference become exposed to COVID-19 (via Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich of ESPN):
The Big Ten will use a color-coded system — green, orange and red — for both team positivity rates and population positivity rates.
If the team's positivity rate exceeds 5% or the population's positivity rate exceeds 7.5%, the team must pause practice and competition for at least seven days. If the team's positive rate is between 2% and 5% or the population's positivity rate is between 3.5% and 7.5%, the team “must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention.”
Pending good health, teams will begin preparations for next month.
Ohio State and star quarterback Justin Fields figure to be the favorite after reaching the College Football Playoff last year.