Big Ten Announces Conference-Only 2020 CFB Schedule amid COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 25: The Big 10 logo is seen on a yard marker during a game between the Purdue Boilermakers and Indiana Hoosiers at Ross-Ade Stadium on November 25, 2017 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue won 31-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will cut nonconference games from the schedules of its 14 member schools for the 2020 football season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

College football is just one of the sports impacted, as the Big Ten noted all fall sports will move to a conference-only slate "if the conference is able to participate."

The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach first reported the decision.

ESPN Stats & Info noted some of the marquee clashes that will fall by the wayside:

The ACC announced earlier in the day it was delaying the start of its Olympic sports—men's and women's cross-country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer and volleyball—until Sept. 1, a step that didn't impact the football season.

The 2020 campaign is scheduled to open Aug. 29, and most schools get underway Sept. 5.

The hope was that the curve of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States would flatten before businesses could reopen and stay-at-home guidelines would be relaxed. Football would then kick off as usual in the fall, but perhaps behind closed doors like European soccer has done to resume its 2019-20 season.

Instead, the pandemic is surging again across the country. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 2.9 million cases and 130,983 deaths, both of which are the most of any country in the world.

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After the Division I Council allowed schools to resume limited on-campus workouts for football and basketball, numerous universities have confirmed positive tests among their student-athletes. That has raised doubts about the fate of the NCAA and NFL seasons.

The Ivy League already canceled its fall season for all sports, leaving some to wonder whether the conference was the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The Ivy League canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments March 10 when the coronavirus was beginning to take hold in the U.S. Two days later, the NCAA scrapped the remainder of the winter sports calendar and the entire spring sports slate.

At the very least, the Big Ten's move to a conference-only schedule could lead other FBS conferences to follow suit, thus trimming the length of the upcoming season.

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