The Big Ten Conference announced that the league will only play in-conference matchups for the fall 2020 season if games are able to be held.
The news was first reported by The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach and then confirmed by other outlets.
While this is a gigantic step for the conference as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic, this is most noteworthy to college football.
Typically, the Big Ten holds nine in-conference contests for each school out of a 13-game schedule. It is unclear if the league will expand its conference schedule to accommodate or continue with nine games. ESPN is reporting that many schools would like a 10-game schedule.
It is also possible the league will move around current schedules to prepare for potential interruptions, according to ESPN's Adam Rittenburg.
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Removing those nonconference games will limit the student-athletes chance at exposure to the virus. There will be less travel, less hotel stays and fewer individuals that could create a mass-spread of the virus.
However, with no out-of-conference contests for the upcoming season, the league will not be able to elevate itself as a whole across the college football landscape. It will cancel marquee matchups such as Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, Ohio State at Oregon, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Michigan State.
For the Maryland Terrapins, they lose a big road contest with West Virginia. Additionally, they had home games scheduled against Towson and Northern Illinois.
As one of the biggest leagues in the country (14 teams), the Big Ten does have the flexibility to expand its schedule with each team playing a full season. However, it could drastically affect how the league is perceived in the scope of the College Football Playoff, especially if other leagues do not follow suit. A one or two-loss league champion does not have any national measuring sticks.
The Big Ten has had a team in the Playoff four of the seven seasons it has been in effect.
This decision comes on the heels of the Ivy League canceling all of their fall sports for the upcoming semester. The Ivy was the first league across the country to make a move so drastic. It should be noted that the Ivy was also the first league to cancel all spring sports at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
This move does not guarantee that the Big Ten will still have football games this fall. It merely serves as a simpler attempt to safely have a season.
The conference also will allow student-athletes to choose not to play for the 2020-21 academic year to maintain their scholarship.
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