If the college football season is able to be played this fall, the University of Wisconsin football team now knows who it'll face and when.
The Big Ten Conference announced its schedule during a Big Ten Network broadcast Wednesday, Aug. 5 — 27 days after the conference decided its teams would only play each other in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Badgers will play 10 Big Ten opponents — six from the Big Ten West and four from the East — nine of which were on their schedule before the move to a conference-only model. The extra game from the East comes against Rutgers.
Here's the schedule:
- Friday, Sept. 4: Indiana
- Sept. 12: at Northwestern
- Sept. 19: at Nebraska
- Sept. 26: Minnesota
- Oct. 3: at Maryland
- Oct. 10: Purdue
- Oct. 17: Bye
- Oct. 24: Illinois
- Oct. 31: at Michigan
- Nov. 7: Bye
- Nov. 14: at Iowa
- Nov. 21: Rutgers
UW is still determining when it will open training camp.
The schedule was designed to provide flexibility in case games need to be postponed due to the pandemic. All opponents in Weeks 3 and 4 — Nebraska and Minnesota for the Badgers — have matching bye weeks later in the season in case games must be moved. All teams have an open date on Nov. 28 as well.
The Big Ten Championship Game is slated for Dec. 5, but can be moved back to Dec. 12 or Dec. 19 if needed.
The number of fans allowed at games if they're played is still to be determined, but there will not be season tickets for UW games. In a letter to season ticket holders, UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said, "We are greatly appreciative that 85% of our season ticket holders made the choice to order season tickets again this year and it disappoints me that we will not be able to provide those season tickets."
In the same letter, season-ticket buyers were given the option to donate their purchase to the Badger Legacy Campaign, apply their payment to 2021 season tickets, or receive a refund.
Games are beginning the same weekend as originally scheduled, something that Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren says is intended to provide the most flexibility.
"We are very hopeful to have a Big Ten football season, to have fall sports in our Big Ten Conference, but again we're approaching this entire process on a day-to-day basis," Warren said on BTN. "This will not be a straight line this year. We've released the schedule, but we've done it in a context of we have to plan ahead, but we understand that we are in a pandemic.
"I'm confident that we've done everything we possibly can up to this moment to feel comfortable to move to tomorrow. This is a day-to-day situation; it epitomizes fluidity."
In a letter to conference athletic directors last week, Warren and Dr. Chris Kratochvil — the chair of the conference's task force on emerging infectious diseases — said there were no guarantees that the fall seasons would happen. In its news release announcing the schedule, the conference reiterated that point.
"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. 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," the statement read.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Big Ten was prepared to release the schedule on Tuesday, but COVID-19 concerns in the conference prompted a delay. Rutgers is currently dealing with an outbreak that has resulted in 28 players and multiple staffers testing positive, while Northwestern paused its workouts after a positive test led to a large group of players needing to quarantine.
A Facebook post from the mother of Indiana freshman Brady Feeney was spread online this week as well, detailing Feeney's struggle with the virus, which required him to be hospitalized and has caused a possible heart condition.
Warren said he believes the Big Ten is doing everything it can to give its teams a chance to play this fall.
"All we can do is to be organized, be methodical, be very thoughtful, make sure that we're treating our student-athletes with the utmost respect and decorum, creating an environment for our student-athletes, coaches and everyone that's involved in the Big Ten to be safe, to be healthy and that's good enough for them," he said.
Each of the Power 5 conferences have announced their scheduling models for the 2020 season. The Big 12 announced Monday it would adopt a schedule with nine conference games and one non-conference, the Pac-12 and SEC will play 10 conference games, while the ACC will play 10 conference games and one non-conference. Notre Dame — originally slated to play UW this season at Lambeau Field — will play 10 ACC opponents and one non-ACC opponent.
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