Big Ten Rejects Nebraska's Attempt to Play UTC

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Despite Nebraska's attempt to still play this weekend, the Big Ten voted against the school hosting a non-conference game against UTC, Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton confirmed on Thursday.

"We were in talks. We went through many levels of approval with the Big Ten. We lost on the final approval," Wharton told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. "All I can do is speculate that they set their schedules...with no byes they didn't have a contingency if they lost games, what they could do. [Nebraska] wanted to have a Plan B. We had testing protocols in place."

Wharton added that the Mocs were set to receive $200,000-$250,000 for the game, and the entire team tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday night.

UTC has played one game this season, losing 13–10 to Western Kentucky last Saturday. The Mocs are set to play an eight-game schedule in the South Conference in the spring.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press first reported that Nebraska and UTC were close to finalizing a deal to play at Memorial Stadium on Saturday and were awaiting approval from the Big Ten. The league currently has an eight-game, conference-only schedule for the fall season.

Nebraska was searching for another opponent after Wisconsin canceled their weekend matchup due to an "elevated number of COVID-19 cases within the Badgers program." 

Wisconsin registered 12 positive COVID-19 tests in a five-day span and paused all football activities for seven days. Head coach Paul Chryst is among those who tested positive, and he will self-isolate for 10 days. Quarterback Graham Mertz also recorded a second positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday, making him ineligible to play for at least 21 days under Big Ten protocol.

The canceled game will now result in a 'no contest' ruling from the Big Ten. It will not be made up due to the conference's schedule constraints.

Saturday marks the second week of Big Ten action in 2020 after the conference opened its season on Oct. 23. The conference has a tight nine-week schedule ahead of the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 19. 

When asked by reporters about Nebraska's rejected replacement game, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said he disagreed with the Big Ten's decision.

"I thought they should have had the opportunity to play [against somebody else]," he said.