College football 2020: Big 12 agrees to play 10-game schedule, including one nonconference matchup
Editor’s note: Check back for updates as conferences and individual schools make announcements.
SALT LAKE CITY — The status of the 2020 college football season is in flux with novel coronavirus numbers surging throughout the United States.
Here’s a look at where conferences and teams stand right now in regard to their 2020 football schedules:
The Big 12’s 2020 football season — if the season is played — will include nine conference games and one nonconference matchup for each team.
The Athletic first reported the news, and it was later confirmed by the conference. The league announced that the nonconference game must be a home game for the Big 12 institution, and must be played prior to conference play beginning.
The Big 12 said it anticipates starting the season between mid- to late-September, and the league’s championship game will move from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19.
“I would like to salute the work of our university presidents and chancellors, athletics directors, coaches, medical advisors and administrators who have worked tirelessly and collaboratively during these extraordinary times,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We believe this change provides the best opportunity going forward. However, we will undoubtedly need to be flexible as we progress through the season in order to combat the challenges that lie ahead.”
The Pac-12 Conference unveiled its revised 2020 schedule last Friday, incorporating a 10-game schedule for each of its member institutions, three weeks after the league announced it would play only conference games this fall.
Competition will begin Sept. 26 for Pac-12 schools, with a bye week built into every team’s schedules, and Dec. 12 serving as another open date if games need to be made up. The Pac-12 Championship Game, originally set for Dec. 4 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, will now be a home-hosted model and take place either Dec. 18 or 19.
Utah added defending Pac-12 champion Oregon to its now revamped 2020 schedule. The Utes will host the Ducks on Dec. 5 in a rematch of last year’s conference title game.
Conference-only competition this fall
The Atlantic Coast Conference made its decision to go ahead with a conference schedule plus-one model. That will include 11 games for ACC teams, with 10 league matchups and one nonconference game. Independent Notre Dame, an ACC member in every sport but football and hockey, will play a 10-game ACC conference schedule and will be eligible to play in the ACC’s championship game, the league said in its announcement.
The first week of competition for ACC members will take place the week of Sept. 7-12 and the 11-game schedule will play out over 13 weeks, with the ACC championship to be played either Dec. 12 or 19. Each ACC team will select their respective nonconference matchup, which must be played in the home state of an ACC institution.
The Big Ten became the first FBS-level conference — a Power Five league, no less — to make a move in regards to COVID-19 and the 2020 season, when it announced all the league’s members would only play conference opponents this fall.
That meant BYU’s games against Michigan State (home opener on Sept. 12) and at Minnesota (Sept. 26) were canceled.
One day after the Big Ten announced its decision, the Pac-12 followed suit and moved ahead with its league members playing conference-only games this fall. That has greater significance in the state, canceling Utah’s nonconference slate (Sept. 3 vs. BYU, Sept. 12 vs. Montana State, Sept. 19 at Wyoming) while also canceling three BYU games (Sept. 3 at Utah, Sept. 19 at Arizona State and Nov. 28 at Stanford) and two for Utah State (home opener Sept. 3 vs. Washington State and Sept. 19 at Washington).
The Southeastern Conference announced its 2020 plan Thursday, going conference-only with a 10-game schedule that will start Sept. 26. The move canceled BYU’s scheduled home game against the SEC’s Missouri on Oct. 10, leaving BYU with six canceled games now.
“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”
The SEC’s revised schedule will be announced at a later date, while the SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will now be played Dec. 19 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Each school’s schedule will also include a midseason open date, as well as another on Dec. 12.
Pioneer Football League
The Pioneer Football League became the first FCS-level conference to make a decision to play only league opponents in fall 2020, if play happens. The league announced a conference-only schedule will begin no sooner than Sept. 26.
Dixie State cancellations
Dixie State has four holes to fill on its football schedule, and it’s the Trailblazers’ four home games in 2020.
Dixie State, set to compete as a Division I Football Championship Subdivision independent for the first time this season, lost games to cancellation as a result of conferences choosing to play only league games in the fall — Sept. 26 against Drake (part of the FCS-level Pioneer Football League) and Nov. 7 against Western Colorado (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference).
The Trailblazers’ home opener — against Western New Mexico on Sept. 12 — was also canceled when the D-II Lone Star Conference went to league-only play, and days later Western New Mexico postponed its football season from fall to spring. The first game Dixie State had canceled came when the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference suspended its fall competition, canceling the Trailblazers’ homecoming game against Azusa Pacific on Oct. 24.
- Great American Conference
- Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
- Gulf South Conference
- Lone Star Conference
- Mountain East Conference
- Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference
- Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
- South Atlantic Conference
- Note: The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association pushed back the start of fall competition for its member institutions until the week of Sept. 28. The Great Midwest Athletic Conference pushed back the start of fall competition until Sept. 24.
- American Rivers Conference: The league also announced it will leave participating in nonconference play up to the individual member institutions.
Canceled/suspended/postponed fall competition
Colonial Athletic Association
The Colonial Athletic Association, one of the top conferences at the Division I Football Championship Subdivision level, is suspending conference competition in football this fall while expressing it will look into conducting a football season in spring 2021. The CAA will also allow its 10 member institutions to pursue playing an independent football schedule this fall, if they so choose, while the league continues to determine fall participation in other sports.
James Madison, a CAA member which won the FCS national championship in 2016 and has been runners-up two of the past three seasons, expressed its desire to pursue an independent schedule this fall. Other CAA members Villanova and Elon also said they will pursue compiling an independent schedule.
James Madison beat Weber State 30-14 in last year’s FCS national semifinals. The Dukes lost to North Dakota State 28-20 in the national championship game. Weber State also faced James Madison in the 2017 FCS playoffs, falling to the Dukes 31-28 in the quarterfinals.
The Ivy League became the first Division I conference to cancel all fall sports, and that move started a domino effect. The league indicated it will look into determining if it’s feasible to move fall sports to the spring.
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
The MEAC — a Division I conference which competes at the FCS level in football — announced it has canceled all fall athletic competition for its league members, including championships, for 2020. “A decision is yet to be made on whether fall sports schedules will be moved to the 2021 spring semester,” a league statement said, while adding the winter sports season is not affected as of now.
The Northeast Conference became the sixth conference that competes in the FCS to call off fall football competition, making the announcement late Wednesday. The league postponed fall competition in all sports, and the conference’s Council of Presidents will meet again Oct. 1 to evaluate the COVID-19 situation.
The Patriot League, another FCS-level conference, also canceled fall competition for its league members. Army and Navy — who both play at the FBS level — are a part of the league in other sports, but not in football, and the league said they are exempt from the cancellation.
Southwestern Athletic Conference
The Southwestern Athletic Conference was the fifth FCS-level conference to cancel fall competition in football. The league announced it has started the process of formalizing plans to move its fall sports to spring 2021, including a seven-game schedule in football with six conference games and the option for one nonconference game.
- Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
- Great Lakes Valley Conference
- Great Northwest Athletic Conference
- Northeast-10 Conference
- Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference
- Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
- American Southwest Conference
- Centennial Conference
- College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin
- Commonwealth Coast Conference
- Eastern Collegiate Football Conference: The league left the possibility open for nonconference competition up to each school while canceling ECFC play. Keystone College originally said it would pursue other scheduling options for this season, but later announced it would no longer seek opportunities to play football this fall.
- Empire 8
- Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference
- Liberty League
- Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference
- Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association: The conference announced that three schools, including two that sponsor football — Adrian College and Trine University — will explore options for fall competition in sports they normally sponsor.
- Middle Atlantic Conference
- Midwest Conference
- Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
- New England Small College Athletic Conference
- New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference
- New Jersey Athletic Conference
- North Coast Athletic Conference
- Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
- Northwest Conference
- Ohio Athletic Conference
- Old Dominion Athletic Conference
- Presidents’ Athletic Conference
- Southern Athletic Association
- Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
- Upper Midwest Athletic Conference
- USA South Athletic Conference
- Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, following a vote from its Council of Presidents, postponed the organization’s football national championship from the fall to spring 2021. The NAIA said the decision will still allow member conferences to play in the fall and winter, if they choose.
“Moving the football championship to the spring was the right thing to do for the well-being of our student-athletes,” NAIA President and CEO Jim Carr said in a statement. “The decision also provides additional flexibility for our conferences and institutions to account for regional differences and plan their regular season accordingly.”
- National Junior College Athletic Association: The NJCAA made the decision to move the majority of its fall sports competitions to spring 2021. That includes Snow College, the lone JUCO football program in the state of Utah.
- California Community College Athletic Association: The CCCAA has moved its fall intercollegiate athletic competition to the spring, including 68 teams in football.
Schools who have canceled football competition this fall from conferences who haven’t canceled fall football
- Hampton, Division I (FCS), Big South Conference
- Monmouth, Division I (FCS), Big South Conference
- Western New Mexico, Division II, Lone Star Conference
- The Apprentice School, USCAA
- Williamson College of the Trades, USCAA
New Mexico and college football
A COVID-19-related development in New Mexico could have ramifications for both the Mountain West and BYU. On July 21, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham addressed a letter to leadership at two state universities — the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State — urging both schools to suspend contact sports this fall, including football and soccer, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Lujan Grisham pointed to the rise of positive COVID-19 cases among young people in the state — nearly half of the state’s newly identified cases in recent weeks are individuals between the ages of 20 to 39 — as a major concern, in her letter shared online by the Journal.
“I know what I am asking you to contemplate is difficult and unprecedented, but these are difficult and unprecedented times,” Lujan Grisham said in concluding the letter. “Fighting COVID-19 is a team sport. I am asking each of you to join me and take it upon yourselves to do everything you can to fight COVID-19. Together we can protect all New Mexicans, and if we are successful, we can resume contact sports and reengage in the camaraderie and joy they bring all of us in a safe manner as soon as we can.”
New Mexico competes in the same conference — the Mountain West — as Utah State, and New Mexico State, like BYU, is a FBS independent.