The Big Ten approved a measure Nov. 5 to alter its teams’ football schedules if multiple programs have their games canceled due to coronavirus outbreaks in the same week. ESPN’s Heather Dinich reported Friday that two teams whose opponents are forced to cancel their respective games would be allowed to instead play each other, even if they’ve already squared off or have a future game scheduled.
On Friday, the Pac-12 announced that California and UCLA would play each other Sunday after both their games were called off because their opponents tested positive for the coronavirus. The two teams weren’t going to play each other this season thanks to the truncated conference schedule, but the last-minute change allows the rivalry to live on.
With coronavirus cases surging across the country, college football has endured a tumultuous week. The SEC was forced to postpone marquee matchups of Alabama vs. LSU, Auburn vs. Mississippi State and Texas A&M vs. Tennessee earlier this week after the latest round of COVID-19 testing found positive cases among the Tigers, Bulldogs and Aggies, respectively.
The SEC has a similar procedure in place but with one major caveat, according to Dinich. The conference doesn’t plan to allow teams to play each other twice, which could play a role in determining whether several teams play enough games to qualify for the SEC championship game and the College Football Playoff.
That’s not the case in the Big Ten, where Wisconsin has already missed two games since the conference began its season in late October. The Big Ten also canceled Ohio State vs. Maryland for this weekend after the Terps reported eight players testing positive.
Just a month remains in the college football regular season before conference championships begin. It’s clear the Big Ten is willing to get creative to enough teams eligible to make it there.