STATE COLLEGE – Football is inching closer to starting. The Big Ten Conference on Wednesday announced a 10-game, league-only schedule for its 14 programs.
Any plans for the 2020 season are still contingent on the coronavirus, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said Wednesday.
“What went into the decision was to afford us the best possible opportunity to be as flexible as we possibly can,” Warren said. “That was one of the reasons why we decided to go to a 10-game-only schedule, a Big Ten-only conference schedule was that it is an opportunity for us to remain as flexible as we possibly can.”
The Big Ten schedule will span 12 weeks with each team having two open dates. The league-only schedule allows the season to start as early as the weekend of Sept. 5, but also provides the ability to move the start of the season back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26 through "strategic sequencing that allows games to be moved to a latter part of the schedule."
There will be a uniform bye week on Nov. 28. All cross-division games are currently scheduled for all schools in Week 1 (Sept. 5) and Week 12 (Nov. 21)
The Big Ten Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19.
The Big Ten in early July became the first of the Power Five conferences to modify its league schedule to include just conference games.
The Ohio State-Michigan game has been moved from its regular slot at the end of the regular season. The Wolverines visit Ohio State on Oct. 24. Ohio State visits Penn State on Nov. 7. Other high-profile games include Minnesota at Wisconsin (Sept. 19), Minnesota at Nebraska (Oct. 3), Iowa at Penn State (Oct. 24), Wisconsin at Michigan (Oct. 31), Wisconsin at Iowa (Nov. 14) and Iowa at Ohio State (Nov. 21).
Four weeks have been added to the end of the league's schedule to allow for flexibility.
Included in the Big Ten’s recent schedule announcement are league-wide protocols for COVID-19. The league announced all of its sports teams will be required to test for COVID-19 each week, while athletes in high-contact sports will test twice a week. All tests will be administered by a third-party laboratory.
“In making this announcement, the Conference acknowledges that there is much work to be done on our campuses, in our communities and across the country to gain control of a virus that continues to spread at an alarming rate,” the conference said in a statement. “While the Conference remains hopeful for a September 2020 start in all fall sports, including football, issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur.”