Big Ten to play conference-only football schedule for 2020 season amid COVID-19 pandemic, per reports

The Big Ten would be the first Power Five conference to announce major changes to its 2020 football schedule
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 3:55 PM EDT
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(CBS Sports) - The Big Ten will reportedly announce Thursday that it will adopt a conference-only scheduling model for the 2020 college football season stemming from concerns of playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach and ESPN reports. It would be the first Power Five conference to announce major alterations to its 2020 schedule.

The move to a conference-only model will eliminate several major nonconference showdowns scheduled for 2020, including Ohio State's trip to Oregon in Week 2, the annual rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa State, and Michigan's season opener at Washington.

It is unknown exactly how Big Ten programs will alter their schedules based on the league's decision, though it is expected that it will play 10 conference games. The Big Ten currently plays nine league games each season but could fill out its schedule with an additional intraleague contest.

The specific conference-only schedule that the Big Ten intends to play this fall will be announced at a later date.

With coronavirus continuing to rage across the United States and showing few signs of slowing down, moving to a conference-only schedule helps alleviate many issues the pandemic creates. Not only will teams be able to reduce long-distance travel, conferences will have an easier time implementing universal coronavirus testing standards.

It is unknown how other conferences intend to format their fall schedules. Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk, said Thursday that the SEC's decision on a conference-only schedule could come at the end of July.

The Big Ten’s decision comes one day after the Ivy League announced that it will not hold intercollegiate sports in the fall but will reevaluate playing sports beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

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