The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that it would start its football season, which consists of 10 in-conference games, on Sept. 5.
In a news release, the conference released the schedule for the upcoming season, with games slated to end on Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars.
Conference officials also set out parameters on the medical protocol as the landscape of the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.
“Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate a safe return to campus for our students this fall,” said Morton Schapiro, chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University president, in the press release. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized the health and safety of our students. Their welfare is paramount and remains at the forefront of all of our decisions. Today’s announcement, though subject to local, state and federal public health guidelines, provides a path forward for Big Ten student-athletes to return to competition based on comprehensive, conference-wide medical policies and protocols established by the Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee. We will continue to evaluate the best available information and advice from public health officials as we make decisions and necessary adjustments going forward.”
Conference officials said the 10 conference-only games would be played over 12 weeks.
The football schedule starts as early as the weekend of Sept. 5 with final games slated for Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars. The Big Ten Football Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19. pic.twitter.com/vWp3OSifBc
— Big Ten Conference (@bigten) August 5, 2020
“Developing consistent medical protocols and testing procedures for the health and safety of our student-athletes and our athletic programs is critical,” said Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Our Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and local, state, and national experts have provided guidelines throughout our decision-making process with our student-athletes’ health and safety as our first and foremost concern. At the same time, as we have previously communicated, any student-athletes who do not feel safe proceeding with the upcoming season as a result of the COVID-19 virus should know they have our full support and also know they will retain their scholarships. With the knowledge we have today, providing potential options for all of our student-athletes was of the utmost importance to us, all while ensuring there is a process in place to incorporate student-athlete feedback. While a comprehensive plan has been developed, we also know it is essential to continue to be agile as new information and health trends become available and we will adjust accordingly.”
One significant change to this year's schedule is that the Michigan-Ohio State game, which traditionally takes place at the end of the season, will now be played on Oct. 24. Wisconsin will play Minnesota on Sept. 26.
Other changes warranted are to allow teams flexibility, so there will be two bye weeks built into the schedule, a uniform bye-week will happen on Nov. 28, and cross-division games will be played on Sept. 5 and Nov. 21.
The season is scheduled to start Sept. 5, but could be moved back to start either Sept. 12, 19, or 26 "through strategic sequencing that allows games to be moved to a latter part of the schedule," officials said.
You can find the entire Big Ten football schedule by clicking here.