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Big Ten Games Canceled by COVID Will Be 'No Contest'

Paul Steinbach

The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday that football games canceled this season based on COVID-19 test results will be declared a "no contest" and will not count as a win or loss for either team.

According to the conference website, games will be canceled due to a test-positivity rate greater than 5 percent and a population-positivity rate greater than 7.5 percent for one or both teams.

The Big Ten opens its season tonight, when Illinois plays at Wisconsin in an otherwise empty Camp Randall Stadium. The league will try to complete an eight-game schedule in eight weeks. New for 2020, a ninth game for all 14 teams will be played the weekend of Dec. 19, when the Big Ten crowns a conference champion. As reported by ESPN, in order to compete in the Big Ten championship game, a team must play at least six games, according to conference tiebreaker rules that were also released on Thursday.

Because of the league's truncated schedule, there is no flexibility or bye weeks built in, so conference officials have accounted for the possibility of unbalanced schedules in their lengthy tiebreaker policy.

ESPN's Heather Dinich writes that if the average number of Big Ten games falls below six, then teams must play no less than two fewer conference games than the average number of Big Ten games played by all teams to be considered for the league championship. The champion will be determined in each division by its winning percentage, unless there is an unbalanced schedule because of the cancellation of games.

If two or more teams have the same number of conference losses, but a different number of wins, head-to-head results will take precedence over winning percentage. If the canceled game was between the two teams with the same winning percentage, the records of the two tied teams will be compared based on winning percentage within their division.

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