The NCAA college football season is underway with different conferences at various points in the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many conferences troubles this season. Before the college football season began, the five major conferences seemed completely divided regarding whether to have a season at all. Now that we’re deep into the season, it seems that some teams might be in danger of missing out on games that would take them into the playoffs.
The ACC, SEC, and Big-12 Started First
The ACC, SEC, and Big-12 got their college football seasons started by the end of September. The ACC includes Notre Dame this year, which is the first year this independent is part of a conference. Each of these three conferences prepared schedules a little differently with some offering one out of conference game and others none at all. Even with this earlier start, these conferences couldn’t avoid COVID-19 troubles.
Games Being Moved, Teams Being Flexible
Early in the season, Notre Dame had several positive COVID-19 test results which required them to use an open date at the end of the season to reschedule their game with Wake Forest. In the SEC, COVID-19 issues have already caused the Alabama-LSU game for this weekend to be postponed, with the possibility of not being played at all. The Texas A&M-Tennessee game has also been postponed but not canceled yet.
The Big-10 and PAC-12 Didn’t Leave Room for Error
Even with the other three conferences starting gameplay in September, the Big-10 and PAC-12 held steady to not have a season this year. This lasted until after the first weekend of football had been played. Once this took place, both conferences announced a schedule for their schools with an eight-game schedule for the Big-10 and a seven-game schedule for the PAC-12.
Early Troubles in the Big-10
The first weekend of Big-10 football kicked off without any troubles, but not long after, the Wisconsin Badgers were hit with multiple COVID-19 positive tests. This caused a couple of their games to be canceled, due to the lack of schedule flexibility. This weekend, the Ohio State-Maryland game has been canceled for the same reason. Thus far, the PAC-12 hasn’t had any COVID-19 issues, and they need to avoid them due to a complete lack of flexibility in their schedule.
What Does This Mean for the College Football Playoff?
No matter how each of the conferences finishes the season, most teams are going to have an odd number of games played. Typically, college football teams play twelve games in a season and those teams in a conference then have a championship game between the top two teams. This year, that number is going to be quite a bit less. In fact, we might not see some teams reach half this number.
Difficulty for the Committee
The top four teams in college football are put into a playoff scenario to crown a champion. This year, we already have a unique situation, especially in the Big-10. It’s possible, Ohio State might not be in the conference championship game because Indiana hasn’t lost a game and could end up with one more win than the Buckeyes at the end of the season. The same is true on the Western side of the conference with Wisconsin missing a couple of games and Northwestern playing and winning all its games thus far. The committee would likely still look at Ohio State as the top team, even though the school might not participate in the conference championship game.
Limping to the End of the Season
Several big games around the college football landscape have been postponed or canceled already, all due to COVID-19 issues. Some teams have been decimated to the point of not having 53 scholarship athletes available for a game (85 scholarships is normal), which tells you how many players have been impacted by this virus. As the NCAA and each of the conferences work toward the end of the season, the question of whether or not this has been worth playing has been raised.
A Thought About the Value of this College Football Season
If you love college football and want to see this sport make its way to a championship in January, you’ve probably enjoyed the play on the field so far. Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of a team that’s been hit by the virus, you might be a bit disheartened by this news. Hopefully, schools, coaches, and players can stay safe enough to make it to the end of this season and give us the sport we love to see.