The Big Ten football season is set to kick-off with the conference’s first game Friday night, the association announced, following months of negotiations and decisions going back and forth about whether there will be a season this year.
The No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers are opening the conference’s 2020 season, going up against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. The game is slated to start at 8 p.m. ET and can be watched on the Big Ten Network.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released the schedule for the upcoming games, noting that any of the games that can’t be played due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak will be declared “no contest.” In which case, neither team would receive a win or a loss.
The season’s schedule includes “an eight-game conference-only schedule” that will start this weekend.
Each team will play eight usual season games plus a ninth game for all fourteen teams in a newly created Big Ten Champions Week that will take place on the weekend of Dec. 19.
“During that Dec. 19 Champions Week, each school from each division will match up with the school that finished with the same standing in the opposite conference, such that the first-place teams in each division will play in the conference championship, the second-place teams will play each other, and so on,” the NCAA said.
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
After Friday’s game, twelve teams are scheduled to play on Saturday, with fans being able to watch the games on television or mobile devices.
- Rutgers at Michigan State | 12 p.m. | Big Ten Network
- Nebraska at Ohio State | 12 p.m. | FOX
- Penn State at Indiana | 3:30 p.m. | FS1
- Iowa at Purdue | 3:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
- Michigan at Minnesota | 7:30 p.m. | ABC
- Maryland at Northwestern | 7:30 p.m. | Big Ten Network
While other conferences have postponed games and shuffled schedules to accommodate contests put off due to positive CCP virus tests, the Big Ten has no such leeway due to its late start to the season.
Games will be canceled if one team or both teams both have a test positivity rate of at least 5 percent and a population positivity rate of at least 7.5 percent.
With no makeup games possible and understanding the likelihood of games behind canceled, the Big Ten published a five-page document spelling out the tiebreaker procedures for determining the final standings.
The top standings criteria will be winning percentage, but a team must complete at least six games to be eligible for the conference championship game, unless the conference average for games completed is fewer than six games. In the latter case, a team must have contested no less than two games fewer than the conference average.
If division rivals end up tied in the loss column after playing a different number of games, their head-to-head result will be the first tiebreaker over total wins. If division foes are tied and their head-to-head matchup was canceled, division winning percentage will be the first tiebreaker.
Reuters contributed to this report.