After a summer of questions and back-and-forth decisions by the Big Ten, the league has officially reversed course and will move forward with an eight-game, conference-only schedule starting the weekend of October 24.
Earlier this week, the Big Ten announced that its Council of Presidents and Chancellors have adopted “significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition,” key steps in bringing back the season.
With the new protocols in place, the league has officially announced its full eight-week schedule.
We will get seven games to open the season on Oct. 24, including the following:
- Illinois at Wisconsin
- Iowa at Purdue
- Michigan at Minnesota
- Nebraska at Ohio State
- Maryland at Northwestern
- Penn State at Indiana
- Rutgers at Michigan State
Here is the complete Big Ten schedule:
While the schedule is a major step in the right direction, the Big Ten has created an extremely tight scheduling window with strict health guidelines.
For starters, there is no bye week or built-in time to account for potential outbreaks of the coronavirus. Eight games in eight weeks, followed by the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 19.
According to the new protocols, players who test positive for the virus must sit out for 21 days and a team must halt practice and games if their positivity rate is above 5%:
The Big Ten Conference will use data provided by each Chief Infection Officer (CInO) to make decisions about the continuation of practice and competition, as determined by team positivity rate and population positivity rate, based on a seven-day rolling average:
- Team positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):
- Green 0-2%
- Orange 2-5%
- Red >5%
- Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):
- Green 0-3.5%
- Orange 3.5-7.5%
- Red >7.5%
Decisions to alter or halt practice and competition will be based on the following scenarios:
- Green/Green and Green/Orange: Team continues with normal practice and competition.
- Orange/Orange and Orange/Red: Team must proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).
- Red/Red: Team must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved.
The Big Ten is moving forward, but will all 14 teams be able to complete the eight-game schedule with no hiccups? Let’s hope.