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Major news in the college football landscape: The Big Ten is reportedly planning to announce soon that there won’t be non-conference games this season. Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic reports:
The Big Ten is expected to announce today that it will go with a conference-only football schedule for this fall, a person with direct knowledge situation tells @TheAthleticCFB.
— Nicole Auerbach ? (@NicoleAuerbach) July 9, 2020
This is bittersweet news. While many non-conference games are cupcakes where the home university pays an opponent substantial sums of money to come around and get beaten by five touchdowns, there are some great matchups we rarely get to see too. For example, Ohio State was set to play Oregon on September 12th in a game millions of people would’ve watched.
ESPN reports that there is “overwhelming support” for a 10-game conference-only schedule (this would mean one extra intra-conference game than is currently on the schedule).
One interesting distinction I wonder about here is what will happen with Notre Dame, which is presumably going to have this issue with their opponents across the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, and Pac-12. With regards to the Big Ten, Notre Dame is supposed to play Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on October 3rd. One would think that game should be an exception to this rule due to geographical proximity (and money), but that remains to be seen.
Other intriguing games that figure to be lost in this news are Michigan-Washington, Penn State-Virginia Tech, Michigan State-Miami, and Iowa-Iowa State.
The reason this is good news, in a sense, is that it means that at least for now the Big Ten is still planning to play football. The Ivy League canceled or postponed football and the rest of their Fall sports earlier this week. At least for now the Big Ten plans to retain some semblance of their season.
There should be exceptions here for Wisconsin-Notre Dame, Iowa-Iowa State, and Penn State-Virginia Tech. These three games are not just compelling matchups, but also feature opponents in relative proximity to each other — they are shorter distances than the schools have for many of their conference opponents. Hopefully, common sense prevails.