The late-starting Big Ten Conference football season will have an unprecedented scheduling model.
League teams will play eight regular-season games in eight weeks, according to University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, and all teams will play a ninth game the week of the conference championship game.
The schedule has not been released in full, but is expected in the coming days as the conference finalizes the crossover games between its divisions. It will open the weekend of Oct. 23-24, and the Big Ten Championship Game will be Dec. 19. The winners of the Big Ten East and West Divisions will play in the league championship game, and the teams who finish second, third, and so on in each division will also play each other.
Alvarez, who was the football scheduling chair of the conference’s return-to-competition task force, said during a news conference Wednesday that the extra game is intended to make the season “meaningful.”
“You have a number of players who are trying to make a decision whether they’re opting in or opting out, so we wanted to make it a meaningful season for all of them,” Alvarez said.
During the press conference, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour said that no public ticket sales will be held across the conference. Only parents of players and coaches will be allowed in the stands at games, Alvarez said.
The conference has worked with its television partners Fox and ESPN in its scheduling process, and Alvarez said those entities asked the conference to be flexible with games.
“One of the things that they asked (was) that we have flexibility in our scheduling as far as playing possibly on Friday primetime, maybe even on a Monday at some time,” Alvarez said. “We agreed that we would be flexible in our scheduling.”
The Big Ten later clarified that Monday games were an option during a winter season, but not for the modified fall season.