Wisconsin’s college football season is in jeopardy just days after the Badgers made their 2020 debut.
The program has paused football activities for at least the next seven days because of multiple positive COVID-19 tests. A total of six student-athletes and six staff members — including coach Paul Chryst — tested positive. Wisconsin does not disclose test results for student athletes, but CBS Sports reported Tuesday that starting quarterback Graham Mertz is among the Badgers players who tested positive.
Those positive tests have a ripple effect for Wisconsin, their opponents and the Big Ten — which requires strict COVID-19 protocols as part of the conference’s decision to return on Sept. 29.
Which Wisconsin games are canceled?
Wisconsin will not play at Nebraska on Saturday. The game will not be rescheduled. Per a university release, the Badgers’ next scheduled game is a home opener against Purdue on Nov. 7. After that, they would play at Michigan and at Northwestern.
How soon can Wisconsin play again?
The Big Ten also monitors each school’s positivity rate on a seven-day rolling average to determine whether practice or game play can continue for that team. That will be closely watched through the next week.
The Badgers are on pause for at least seven days, and that means the team would have two days to prepare for the matchup with Purdue.
That will be difficult considering the COVID-19 protocols the Big Ten has in place.
When can Paul Chryst return?
When the Big Ten reversed its decision to cancel the season, it mandated a series of stringent COVID-19 testing protocols that are in place.
Chryst is the second Big Ten coach to test positive. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm did not coach in the opener against Iowa because of a positive COVID-19 test.
The Big Ten is requiring coaches who test positive to self-isolate for 10 days before returning to the team. Chryst would able to rejoin the team on Nov. 6.
When can Wisconsin players return?
Big Ten student-athletes who test positive for COVID-19 are required to sit out for 21 days before returning to game competition. Given that six players already tested positive and several other results are pending, this could put the Badgers at a serious disadvantage depending on when they return.
The quarterback room has been hit hard this season. Starting quarterback Jack Coan suffered a season-ending foot injury before the opener. Mertz and backup Chase Wolf reportedly tested positive. Danny Vanden Boom, the last scholarship quarterback on the roster, has three career pass attempts.
Why won’t the Nebraska game be rescheduled?
The Big Ten does not have room for bye weeks before the conference championship game on Dec. 19. Every team is playing in eight straight games — which was one of the pitfalls of the return-to-play-plan that was released on Sept. 29.
The lack of flexibility in the schedule could become a major problem if other teams are forced to pause football activities because of COVID-19. A rise in cases in states such as Wisconsin and Illinois could be a problem over the next seven weeks.
Will Wisconsin be eligible for Big Ten championship?
According to the Associated Press, Big Ten teams must play six games to be eligible for the conference championship game. If the average number of conferences games is below six, programs must play no less than two fewer games from that average to be eligible.
Wisconsin football schedule
The Badgers have six games left on their schedule now, starting with the Nov. 7 matchup against Purdue. The Badgers need to play five of those games to eligible for the Big Ten championship game.
Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa also are on Wisconsin’s schedule.
Wisconsin was the preseason favorite to repeat at Big Ten West champion.
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