After a rollercoaster ride of anticipation, petitions, protests and a unanimous vote, the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors has authorized a 2020 football season. This comes more than a month after the Council voted 11-3 to postpone the fall sports season. There is still no official announcement regarding other fall sports.
During a virtual press conference, members of the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force laid out some of the protocols that will be enforced. Dr. James Borchers, head physician of the Ohio State football team, spoke about testing and tracking data.
“We have been very comfortable with the idea that we’ll be able to provide daily rapid testing,” Borchers said. “Using specific metrics to our teams such as the test positivity rate of the team … will help to guide us in making certain we are moving along in a responsible fashion.”
If a team surpasses a positivity rate of five percent, it "must stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and reassess metrics until improved,” according to the Big Ten’s statement.
The daily testing began last Wednesday. Additionally, fans won’t be allowed in the stadiums, although some campuses may allow families in.
The Rutgers football team begins its nine-game season Oct. 24 against Michigan State, which is led by head football coach Mel Tucker. Last year, the Scarlet Knights fell to the Spartans 27-0. Brian Lewerke passed for all three touchdowns.
Rutgers will face off against Indiana on the Banks for its second game. The Knights mustered only one passing yard in last year’s 35-0 loss in Bloomington, Indiana. Whop Philyor hauled in 10 catches for 182 yards, but Rutgers’ defense kept him out of the endzone.
Following a season with a loss in the College Football Playoff semifinals and an offseason capped with Justin Fields petitioning the Big Ten to play football this fall, the No. 6 Buckeyes will welcome the Knights for an early November matchup. Last year, Rutgers put up 21 points in the loss, which is tied for the second-highest number of points Ohio State gave up all season.
The Knights will then begin a two-game homestand, starting against Illinois. In last year’s defeat, Rutgers tied the game at 10 going into halftime, following a 31-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Johnny Langan.
The latter half of the homestand features a matchup against Michigan. The Wolverines were the last team former head football coach Chris Ash coached against. He was fired after the 52-0 loss. Michigan’s offensive line lost four starters to the NFL Draft while the Knights’ defensive line unit brought in new talent in addition to the juniors and seniors it already has at the position.
November wraps up with a trip to Purdue for the teams’ second-ever matchup and first in the Hoosier State. When the teams battled in Piscataway in 2017, Rutgers claimed a 14-12 victory.
No. 10 Penn State rolls in for the first game of December and the last regular-season home game for the Knights. Although ultimately losing by a score of 27-6, Rutgers ran for 184 yards against a defense giving up an average of 89 rushing yards a game.
The regular season ends with a road trip to Maryland. The Terrapins beat the Knights for their only Big Ten victory of the season. The game was tight-end coach Nunzio Campanile’s first as interim head coach. But this year, Rutgers will have the benefit of having played under its new coaching staff for seven games.
On Dec. 19, the Big Ten East and West Division leaders will compete for the league title while the other teams battle their final standings counterparts. A win in any game this season will break the Knights’ 21-conference game losing streak.
When it comes to bowl eligibility, usually the .500 mark in the win column separates the teams going bowling from the ones watching on TV. Recently the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced the Division I Football Oversight Committee recommended lifting most requirements this season, leaving only the Academic Progress Rate as an eligibility determinant.
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