Before the Big Ten postponed the football season, their schedules had some safeguards, like two bye weeks, built-in for COVID-19 issues.
However, when the conference decided they wouldn’t play until Spring, and then changed their mind, they left zero wiggle room. Now, No. 9 Wisconsin is dealing with the consequences.
As of Wednesday morning, 12 people — six players and six staff members, including starting QB Graham Mertz and head coach Paul Chryst — have tested positive inside the Badgers program.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and chancellor Rebecca Blank decided to pause all team activities for seven days. The decision also forces the cancellation of the Badgers game with Nebraska on Saturday. The game will not be rescheduled.
The Big Ten policy states players who test positive must miss at least 21 days. Also, they must undergo cardiac screening before being cleared to return.
How does this affect the Badgers’ Championship hopes? That’s a little more complicated.
Teams must play at least six games to qualify for the division championship. Unless the average number of games played (by all league teams) drops below six. So, Wisconsin can only miss two games if the rest of the league plays all eight games.
If the average number of games drops below six, teams must play no less than two fewer games than the average. In other words, if the average number is five, the Badgers would need to play at least three games.
The likeliest scenario is Wisconsin misses just one game, and they end up playing seven total games.
However, we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.
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