It appears that Wisconsin is now ineligible for the Big Ten title.
The Badgers’ chances of making it to the Big Ten championship game went down dramatically with a 17-7 loss to Northwestern on Saturday. But those chances are now close to zero after Minnesota is unable to play against Wisconsin on Saturday because of COVID-19 cases and quarantines.
The game has been canceled and is declared a no contest. Minnesota said that it was having to suspend football activities after nine players and six staffers had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last five days.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our main priority," Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "We have experienced an increase in positive cases recently and have made the responsible decision to pause team activities. We will continue to rely on the guidance of our medical experts as we navigate the next several days. We are doing everything we possibly can to miss the fewest amount of days possible. Our goal is to be healthy enough and ready to compete on December 5 against Northwestern."
The Big Ten said before the season that teams that played fewer than six games during the season would not be eligible for the conference title game, though there is a caveat if the average number of games played around the league falls dramatically. Since Wisconsin missed two games earlier this season because of their own coronavirus outbreak, the Badgers are now up to three cancellations on the season.
The cancellation also means that 2020 will be the first year that Minnesota and Wisconsin won’t play each other since 1906. The schools first played in 1890 and have played a total of 129 games against each other.
Wisconsin now has games remaining against Indiana and Iowa. Minnesota, if it can play on Dec. 5, plays Northwestern next and then ends the regular season against Nebraska.
SEC schedule shuffle
Saturday’s Arkansas at Missouri game has been postponed, causing an array of adjustments to the SEC schedule.
Missouri won’t play Arkansas due to COVID-19 issues among the Razorbacks program. Instead, Missouri will host Vanderbilt on Saturday at Noon ET on SEC Network. Vanderbilt and Missouri were initially scheduled to face off on Oct. 17, but that game was postponed.
With Vanderbilt now playing Missouri, Vandy’s home game against Tennessee originally scheduled for Saturday has been postponed.
In a press release, the SEC said the Tennessee at Vanderbilt game has been postponed “for the purpose of facilitating the rescheduling of the Vanderbilt at Missouri game.” The SEC is attempting to have all 14 of its teams play 10 games this season.
The SEC said that Dec. 19, the day of the SEC championship game, is being considered as a possible date for the Arkansas at Missouri and Tennessee at Vanderbilt games.
“As we continue to adapt to the current realities, it is important to remain flexible as we move forward in the final weeks of the season,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “Contact tracing continues to be the biggest contributing factor to game interruptions. We will continue to manage the remaining weeks of the football schedule to allow for as many games to be played as possible.”
Pac-12 rivalry postponed, ASU’s issues continue
The Apple Cup, the annual rivalry game between Washington and Washington State, will not be played as scheduled on Friday.
The game has been called off because Washington State will not have “the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game as a result of a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols.”
In a statement, Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said WSU will be below the limit of 53 scholarship players on Friday. WSU’s scheduled game against Stanford last Saturday was also canceled.
“While this is another heartbreaking week for our football program, the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our top priority,” Chun said.
Both schools said they will work with the Pac-12 to reschedule the game for a later date this year. The two programs have met 112 times, including on an annual basis dating back to 1945.
Washington AD Jennifer Cohen said that UW will work to find another opponent this upcoming weekend in Washington State’s place.
On Thursday, the Pac-12 announced that it will allow its members to schedule non-conference games should a Pac-12 team’s conference game get canceled and there are no other conference opponents they can be matched up with. When the Apple Cup was called off, there were no other Pac-12 teams without an opponent.
That changed on Tuesday as the Arizona State vs. Utah game has been canceled due to the lingering COVID-19 issues at ASU. ASU has not played since Nov. 7, the Pac-12’s opening weekend.
Washington and Utah could potentially play one another, but the conference has yet to announce such an arrangement.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 24, 2020
Tuesday morning football?
Charlotte’s home game against Western Kentucky has been moved from Saturday to Tuesday, Dec. 1. The game will kick off at a very unique time,10:30 a.m. ET, and air on CBS Sports Network.
The change allows Charlotte to “clear COVID-19 protocols that would have prevented Charlotte from competing this Saturday.”
"We appreciate WKU working with us and the league office to make this game happen," Charlotte athletic director Mike Hill said.
UAB’s final game at Legion field canceled
UAB was set to host Southern Miss on Friday in the Blazers’ final game at Birmingham’s Legion Field. That game is no longer happening.
Southern Miss said Tuesday that the game would be canceled because of COVID-19 cases within its program. It’s the third consecutive canceled game for UAB. The game won’t be made up because Southern Miss already has two makeup games scheduled over the next two weeks.
Week 13 postponed or canceled games
San Diego State at Fresno State (canceled)
Utah at Arizona State (moved to Sunday, Nov. 29)
Washington at Washington State
Western Kentucky at Charlotte (moved to Tuesday, Dec. 1)
Louisiana Tech at Florida International (canceled)
Arkansas at Missouri (postponed)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (moved to accommodate SEC changes)
Southern Miss at UAB (canceled)
No. 24 Tulsa at Houston (postponed)
Minnesota at No. 18 Wisconsin (canceled)
Utah at Arizona State
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