Big Ten Says Canceled Games Will be 'No Contest'

The league is going to play nine games in nine weeks and have very little wiggle room if there is a coronavirus outbreak. But schools that don't play a game won't be penalized for it.

Any CoVID outbreak that forces a game cancellation will not count against Big Ten teams this year, the conference announced today.

After initially deciding to sideline football this fall due to the pandemic, the conference reversed course. Now, its time to see how their plans for the season work as teams kick off their seasons this weekend.

The Big Ten is squeezing in eight games in eight weeks, leaving no margin for error. Earlier today, the Big Ten announced if a game cannot be “played as scheduled, the game shall be cancelled and declared a No Contest and will not count as a win or loss for either team.”

Here is how the conference will make a decision to play or not:

“A game cannot be played as scheduled due to both a Test Positivity Rate greater than 5% and a Population Positivity Rate greater than 7.5% for one or both teams.”

Although canceled games will neither help nor hurt a team, a program outbreak does have possible consequences. As ESPN notes, in order to compete in the Big Ten championship game, a team must play at least six games.

Furthermore, “If the average number of Big Ten games falls below six, then teams must play no less than two fewer conference games than the average number of Big Ten games played by all teams to be considered for the league championship. The champion will be determined in each division by its winning percentage, unless there is an unbalanced schedule because of the cancellation of games,” according to ESPN.

As we’ve seen in the NFL and with Notre Dame, games can be postponed and rescheduled. However, that will not be the case for the Big Ten. The conference needs to complete the regular season on Dec. 12 because the conference championship game needs to be played on Dec. 19 in order for the winner to potentially be considered for the final College Football Playoff rankings. The final CFP rankings will be announced on Dec. 20.

As it goes for wearing a face mask, the Big Ten has protocols for that too. However, they will leave each school responsible for enforcing face coverings.

“Member institutions shall be responsible for local enforcement of sideline facial covering compliance throughout the season,” the Big Ten said in a statement. “Further, Directors of Athletics, in conjunction with the Conference office, shall engage in a weekly review process to ensure compliance and adherence to the protocol.”

The season will kick-off tomorrow night with Illinois vs. No. 14 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes host Nebraska on Oct. 24.