Big Ten Looking at Eliminating Non-Conference Games

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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:

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.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. Apparently COVID will be more likely to strike against out of conference opponents than Big 10 ones.

    I wonder if the Big 10 will forfeit bowl season?

    Making this decision now makes absolutely no sense. If you want to go caronabro, cancel the damn season. Half measures do not reduce any risk.

  2. For B1G, each school should do a home-and-home within the division. Winners play in Indy the weekend before Thanksgiving. One bye week for all after first five weeks. Pretty simple.

  3. For college football, this makes no sense. This and that NFL jersey swap prohibition are technicalities that, to the untrained eye, make it sound as if these leagues/associations are taking every measure possible. The reality is, as others have said, they’re stupid half-measures that probably do more harm than good.

    For the NFL, this would make sense ***IF*** they were stupid enough to try implementing a bubble strategy. Eliminating four interconference games would mean dividing teams into two 16-team bubbles. A 32-team bubble is impossible. Hell, 16 probably is too. You get the point though.

    I’m more confident with NFL playing than college football. College just has so many variables to figure out. There may be too much fear to think it through.

  4. It’s becoming very clear that The leadership at the top levels of colleges and sports and local governments are clowns. Mob rule doesn’t work, but neither does Autocracy. Panic and illogic seem to rule the days.

    This fear porn and confusion spread across sports media will cause injury to athletes that can’t prepare properly or fear typical Human contact in any sport.

    I can’t see any college sports happening. I’ll believe it when I hear about it. And I’m Losing steam to even care. It’s like we’re watch a slow moving train wreck. And it’s not just sports.

    Feels like we’re killing our own country.

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