Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press,

Michigan-Ohio State finale highlights 3rd Big Ten schedule

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The Big Ten’s third football schedule of the 2020 season is highlighted by Michigan-Ohio State on Dec. 12, the final day of the conference’s regular-season and the latest date the rivals have ever played.

The Big Ten released an eight-games-in-eight-weeks schedule on Saturday that will start the weekend of Oct. 24. Just three days ago, the conference reversed course and decided to play a fall football season after postponing on Aug. 11 because of concerns about COVID-19.

Week 1 features Nebraska at Ohio State, two teams that were at the forefront of the grassroots push to play fall ball in the Big Ten. Michigan will play at Minnesota in the Little Brown Jug rivalry to open the season.

In Week 2, Ohio State will play at Penn State on Halloween. The Buckeyes at No. 2 and Penn State at No. 7 were the highest ranked Big Ten teams in the preseason AP Top 25.

The regular season concludes as usual with the Buckeyes and Wolverines facing off. Michigan and Ohio State have played 103 times, but never later than November.

The Big Ten championship game will be played Dec. 19 in Indianapolis, matching the East and West Division champions. The conference has said it will give all its teams the opportunity to play on Dec. 19. The tentative plan is to match teams with similar finishes in the respective division standings.

Baylor-Houston postponed day before game

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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Baylor’s season opener against Houston, scheduled less than a week ago, was one of two Bowl Subdivision games postponed Friday – the day before before they were supposed to play.

Florida Atlantic’s opener against Georgia Southern was postponed earlier in the day, following the results of FAU’s COVID-19 testing Thursday. In both cases, the schools involved said they would try to find make-up dates.

The postponements illustrate the uncertainty surrounding college sports. The number of FBS games postponed or canceled because of COVID-19 issues since Aug. 26 is 16 and the pandemic’s impact is being felt in other sports; one of college basketball’s premier tournaments is moving from Hawaii to North Carolina and the NCAA delayed the start of the basketball season to Nov. 25.

Athletes are scrambling too: Minnesota star receiver Rashod Bateman has re-joined his team after opting out of the season, and hopes to be able to play when the Big Ten starts in late October. A similar return played out earlier this week at Ohio State.

The Pac-12 could be next to get back in the game. The conference’s university presidents met Friday. A statement from the league said the CEO Group had “an informative and productive meeting.”

“We plan to reconvene this coming Thursday, Sept. 24 to make a decision regarding possible return to play prior to January 1,” the group said in a statement. “The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports will continue to be our number one priority in all of our decision making.”

In putting off its opener, Baylor said it was unable to meet COVID-19 roster thresholds set by the Big 12. The school did not provide specifics on the players or positions affected by the coronavirus or the number of players who were quarantined due to contact tracing; on Monday, it said it had six active cases across its athletic programs and that 23 total cases were being monitored.

Baylor is scheduled to open its Big 12 season next week against Kansas. The Big 12 said that game is still on for now, but Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades told SicEm365 Radio in Waco, Texas, he had not yet spoken to Kansas athletic director Jeff Long.

“Within this particular position group we can’t take on any more water,” Rhoades said.

The Big 12 said a minimum 53-player roster is necessary to play a game, and must include at least seven offensive linemen, four defensive linemen and one quarterback.

On Friday, the Southeastern Conference released similar thresholds with one key difference. The SEC said it would only count scholarship players among those minimums. The Big 12’s minimums include walk-ons.

“We’re heartbroken from this postponement,” said Dave Aranda, the former LSU defensive coordinator still waiting to make his debut as Baylor’s coach. “While we’ve been eager to play football this fall, we have all made a commitment to only do so with the highest level of safety and care for our student-athletes.”

The game between Baylor and Houston was scheduled only a week ago after the former Southwest Conference rivals both had their original openers put off because of the virus.

Baylor was supposed to play last Saturday against Louisiana Tech, which had widespread COVID-19 positive tests.

Houston was scheduled to play Friday night against Memphis, but the American Athletic Conference postponed that game last weekend after the Tigers had numerous players test positive.

Houston has now had four games postponed or canceled, including one against Washington State originally scheduled for Sept. 12 that was lost when the Pac-12 initially decided to play only conference foes. The Pac-12 subsequently postponed the fall season altogether but is now reconsidering, with a possible late October or early November start.

The Cougars are scheduled to play North Texas next week.

“We’re extremely disappointed for our student-athletes, coaches and staff,” Houston AD Chris Pezman said. “They all have consistently done the right thing and worked tirelessly to be prepared for this game.”

Wait a minute: Stars Wade, Davis decide to return to Ohio St

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Two of Ohio State’s biggest stars, cornerback Shaun Wade and guard Wyatt Davis, are opting back in for the 2020 football season.

The preseason All-Americans had decided to leave school to prepare for the NFL draft when it looked as if there would be no football season for the Big Ten. Both are expected to be first-round picks.

They changed their minds after the conference announced on Wednesday that teams would play an nine-game season starting Oct. 23-24.

The news is huge for Ohio State, which behind quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields has the talent to again compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Wade, who had opted out on Monday, announced on ESPN on Thursday that he would return.

“It was a long day yesterday being with family and friends and taking that time to talk to them and really making the right decision for myself, but I’m going to come back and be a Buckeye and really go strive for this national championship,” Wade said.

“Back in January, I didn’t go to the draft and my goal was to come back, be a captain, get my degree,” he said. “They then canceled football, now it’s back, so since it’s back we got a chance to win a national championship. That’s been my goal since day one.”

Wade said he had an agent but did not sign a contract.

Wade last play resulted in his ejection for targeting in the playoff semifinal loss to Clemson in January.

“I can’t go out like that,” he said.

Davis had announced his decision on Twitter Wednesday.

“I want Buckeye Nation to know that I want to play this season for Ohio State and I am working now to make that a reality,” he said.

Davis will anchor an offensive line that includes center Josh Myers and left tackle Thayer Munford, both also NFL prospects.