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Big Ten and ACC eliminating non-conference games in football, other fall sports

2020-07-15

College football will look a lot different for the 2020 season. 

The Big Ten will be eliminating their non-conference games for all fall sports — including football ? for the duration of the 2020 season. The news was first reported by Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic.

ESPN reported that if college football can be played, administrators and athletic directors would prefer to play a conference-only schedule that would eliminate cross country and long distance travel.

Big Ten football teams will only be playing 10 games this season, all within the conference. The Big Ten officially announced its update for the 2020 season with a statement on Thursday:

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority.

“To that end, the Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”

The Big Ten also announced that student athletes who choose not to play this year due to concerns over the coronavirus will be kept on scholarship and in good standing with their teams. 

This also means a handful of marquee college football matchups are off the schedule. Ohio State versus Oregon, Michigan State versus Miami, Michigan versus Washington and Wisconsin versus Notre Dame will all be put on the shelf. In total, the Big Ten teams has 36 scheduled opponents, including eight FCS opponents, that will be taken off the schedule. 

But not everyone is optimistic the season will play out even in a conference-only model.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he has gone from “cautiously optimistic” about a football season this fall to “very concerned” in a teleconference with reporters on Thursday.

According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the ACC will follow the steps of the Big Ten and focus on a conference-only schedule.

McMurphy had reported last month that ACC commissioner John Swofford said that if Power 5 schools nixed their non-conference games, then the ACC would help Notre Dame, an independent school for football, fill out its schedules.