Big Ten going to conference-only slate this fall

NCAAF

The Big Ten decided on Thursday that a conference-only season for all fall sports, including football, is the most likely outcome, a source with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.

If college football can be played this fall, Big Ten presidents and athletics directors prefer playing a conference-only schedule, which would eliminate some long-distance travel and help ensure that their teams are being tested for coronavirus universally, multiple sources inside the league and around college football told ESPN.

Some Big Ten schools preferred playing only conference foes with one additional non-league game, which would preserve some of its marquee non-Big Ten matchups, but there is overwhelming support for a 10-game conference-only schedule, the sources said.

Big Ten presidents and athletics directors discussed the issues during a conference call earlier this week, and the league’s head coaches were given an opportunity to weigh in on Thursday morning.

A decision to play only conference games might be announced as early as this week, the sources said.

An assistant coach at a Big Ten program told ESPN that his head coach instructed him to stop scouting and preparing for nonconference opponents and focus only on Big Ten foes.

The Big Ten’s potential decision to play only conference opponents would affect 36 scheduled opponents, including 28 from the FBS and eight from the FCS. Six FBS schools — Ball State, Bowling Green, BYU, Central Michigan, UConn and Northern Illinois — are scheduled to play two Big Ten opponents this season.

The Big Ten would lose marquee nonconference matchups, including Michigan‘s road game at Washington on Sept. 5, Ohio State‘s trip to Oregon on Sept. 12, Michigan State‘s home game against Miami on Sept. 26, and Wisconsin‘s contest against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field on Oct. 3.

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this story.

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