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Big Ten announces football schedule, medical protocols

The Gophers, like all conference teams, will play a 10 game conference-only schedule, beginning September 5 against Michigan State.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) throws for a touchdown as Georgia Southern defensive end Raymond Johnson III (92) approaches during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. Morgan has zoomed to the top of the Big Ten leaders in passing, helping Minnesota start unbeaten after four games. Now the Gophers have an ugly loss to Illinois from last year to avenge. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn, File)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Big Ten Conference has released it's blueprint for the 2020-21 football season, and developed medical protocols for all sports in the coming year to help protect athletes and coaches from COVID-19.

Schedules released Wednesday call for the Gophers, like all conference teams, to play a 10-game conference-only schedule including the nine games previously scheduled, and one additional cross-division game. Minnesota will open its season against Michigan State Sept. 5.

Here is the 2020-21 University of Minnesota football schedule (Home games in bold). 

  • Sept. 5 – at Michigan State
  • Sept. 12 – Michigan
  • Sept. 19 – Iowa
  • Sept. 26 – at Wisconsin
  • Oct. 3 – at Nebraska
  • Oct. 10 – Indiana
  • Oct. 24 – Purdue
  • Oct. 31 – at Illinois
  • Nov. 14 – Northwestern
  • Nov. 21 – at Maryland

These are additional details pertaining to the upcoming Big Ten football season: 

  • The schedule starts as early as the weekend of Sept. 5 with final games slated for Nov. 21 to align with academic calendars
  • 10 games would be played over at least 12 weeks with each team having two open dates
  • Games can be collapsed into bye weeks
  • There is a uniform bye week on Nov. 28
  • Cross-division games are currently scheduled for all schools in Week 1 (Sept. 5) and Week 12 (Nov. 21)
  • Big Ten Football Championship Game remains scheduled for Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, though it could be moved as late as Dec. 19
  • Teams can begin preseason practices on Friday, Aug. 7, or earlier if permitted under NCAA guidelines related to first dates of scheduled competition

The announcement issued Wednesday emphasizes that while the Conference remains hopeful for a September 2020 start in all fall sports, including football, "issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur. While our strategy is to continue planning for all fall sports, if the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols, we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition pursuant to local and state public health orders or the recommendations of our medical experts."

Also released by the Big Ten Wednesday was a reminder of the medical protocols installed by the conference to keep student athletes, coaches and staff members safe. 

  • All sports will be required to test a minimum of once weekly, while sports with high contact risk will be required to test a minimum of twice weekly
  • Required testing frequency is based upon the level of contact risk within the sport and is required for student-athletes as well as coaches and additional staff members
  • The Conference will coordinate centralized testing through a third-party testing laboratory for consistency in surveillance and pre-competition testing
  • The required testing, at this time, for COVID-19 must use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing
  • Institutions may supplement the required Conference testing with additional testing performed for surveillance or clinical purposes 

"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."

Anyone seeking more information can access the Big Ten website.