USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down the latest Amway Coaches Poll.
MADISON, Wis. – For the third time this college football season, Wisconsin’s players and coaches have lost a game to coronavirus.
Minnesota officials announced that Saturday’s Big Ten game Saturday at Wisconsin will not be played and that the program is pausing all team-related activities because of an increase in positive coronavirus cases within the program.
Wisconsin officials canceled games earlier this season against Nebraska and Purdue because of high coronavirus numbers in the program.
Wisconsin (2-1) likely can’t catch first-place Northwestern (5-0) in the Big Ten West Division, but a third cancellation would make the Badgers ineligible for the league title game.
Wisconsin linebacker Chris Orr lets fans touch the Paul Bunyan Axe after Wisconsin’s victory over Minnesota. (Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
According to league rules, teams must play at least six games to qualify for the title game. One exception is if the average number of games played by all league teams falls below six.
Wisconsin could have one slim option to face a Big Ten foe this week.
Another league team would have to lose a game because its opponent opted to cancel because of COVID-19 issues. The games would have to be canceled by Wednesday in order for Wisconsin to schedule a new game.
Nine Minnesota student-athletes and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last five days. There were additional presumptive positive tests Tuesday and the program is awaiting confirmation of those results.
“This is the right decision,” Brad Nelson, the Minnesota athletics department’s medical director, said in a release. “There was a sudden increase in positive cases and this pause will allow the team to focus on stopping the spread of the virus.”
The Gophers (2-3) recorded a 34-31 victory last weekend despite being without 20 players because of COVID-19 or injuries.
Other games this week that have been canceled or postponed:
Nov. 27: San Diego State at Fresno State, Washington at Washington State and Southern Mississippi at Alabama-Birmingham were canceled.
Nov. 28: Western Kentucky at Charlotte (moved to Dec. 1) Miami at Wake Forest (moved to Dec. 5), Tennessee at Vanderbilt (no makeup date), Arkansas at Missouri, (no makeup date set) were postponed.
Tulsa at Houston was also postponed. The game may be rescheduled for Dec. 19 if neither team is playing in the American Athletic Conference championship game.