Big Ten’s decision changes landscape of the 2020 college football season

When the Big Ten announced in August that it would postpone the start of the 2020 college football season, the fear was that the NCAA would not be able to crown a true champion. One of the top conferences around the nation perhaps unable to take part in bowl season and the College Football Playoff would muddy the title scene.

That fear is now a thing of the past following the decision on Wednesday to start the season Oct. 24.

Big Ten announces 2020 college football season will start Oct. 24

“The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) adopted significant medical protocols including daily antigen testing, enhanced cardiac screening and an enhanced data-driven approach when making decisions about practice/competition,” the conference announced, via its official website. “The COP/C voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24, 2020. The decision was based on information presented by the Big Ten Return to Competition Task Force, a working group that was established by the COP/C and Commissioner Kevin Warren to ensure a collaborative and transparent process.”

The plan is for each Big Ten team to play eight games in eight weeks, leaving no real wriggle room in case there’s an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus within a program. We’ve already seen some programs within the conference deal with outbreaks over the past few months.

Setting aside the rightful debate about whether it makes sense to resume a season at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to hit the United States hard, this does indeed change the landscape of the college football season.

Associated Press top 25

After the first two weeks of the college football season, the AP decided to remove teams playing in the Big Ten and Pac-12, among others, from its top 25. This made sense. There was no real reason to keep said programs in the rankings if they weren’t actually playing college football. The following teams were removed from the outlet’s preseason rankings:

  • Ohio State (2)
  • Oregon (6)
  • Penn State (8)
  • Michigan (15)
  • Wisconsin (16)
  • Minnesota (18)
  • USC (19)
  • Utah (22)
  • Iowa (24)
  • Arizona State (25)

That’s 40% of the preseason top 25 removed from the rankings in one fell swoop, including three legit title contenders. The assumption now is that six of those teams will be added to the ranking following this coming weekend’s action.

This does indeed change the landscape of the 2020 season early in the process. Once the Big Ten’s schedule is released later this week, we’ll have a better understanding of how things might look. Once the initial College Football Playoff rankings are released, likely right after the Big Ten starts its season, that will be magnified even further.

Big Ten college football schedule

We have no idea how the eight-game schedule for each team will look. It’s highly likely that divisions will be thrown out the window. The Big Ten will want to see Wisconsin and Minnesota go up against the top dogs in the Eastern Division, Penn State and Ohio State included.

It’s in this that a jam-packed two-month schedule within the conference will give us some top-flight games. In turn, that promises to shake up the college football season in a big way.

Even without the Pac-12 making a firm decision on its season, another Power Five conference playing a truncated slate adds to the intrigue of the 2020 college football season.

“We will play eight games, plus one very unique champions’ week where the teams from the East and West will match up and play one another, two versus two, three versus three, four versus four, etc., with the championship game being played at the end of that week,” Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said Wednesday.

That final week of action could very well help decide the College Football Playoff’s four teams once bowl season comes calling. It will also make for an incredibly fun time around the college football world.

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