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Gophers FB schedule released, with Big Ten medical protocols in place

Northwestern v Minnesota

The 2020 collegiate football season is going to be different than years past, as non-conference play has been eliminated. The Minnesota Gophers were originally scheduled to open their season at home against Florida Atlantic, but instead will now travel to Michigan State on Sept. 5. 

The Big Ten released a statement saying they have approved the plans for a 10-game conference-only schedule that will begin as early as Sept. 5, although it is still not guaranteed at this point. 

“In making this announcement, the Conference acknowledges that there is much work to be done on our campuses, in our communities and across the country to gain control of a virus that continues to spread at an alarming rate. While the Conference remains hopeful for a September 2020 start in all fall sports, including football, issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur,” the Big Ten stated in their press release. “While our strategy is to continue planning for all fall sports, if the virus continues to spread among our students despite our many preventative measures, including testing and quarantine protocols, we are also prepared to delay or cancel competition pursuant to local and state public health orders or the recommendations of our medical experts. As Commissioner Kevin Warren has consistently stated, our country is navigating unprecedented times and throughout all decisions, the health and safety of our students, student-athletes, and everyone associated with our Big Ten university communities remains our primary focus as we work with our institutions to provide a healthy and productive learning environment that includes intercollegiate athletic competition.” 

COVID-19 testing will be required twice a week in high contact sports, which football is listed as the highest risk. The testing will be done by a third-party testing laboratory in order to keep the process consistent in surveillance and pre-competition testing. 

These protocols will be updated periodically throughout the season as new information on the virus continues to emerge. If a player tests positive they will need to isolate themselves for at least 10 days from the positive test. Before returning to play, anyone who tests positive will need to be cleared by a team physician. 

The Gophers star receiver already opted out prior to these guidelines, giving the Gophers a big test before the season even starts. Rashod Bateman will likely be a first-round pick in 2021, leaving a big hole in Minnesota’s offense. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone as talented as Bateman is playing it safe and forgoing his final season to enter the draft. This is something to keep an eye on as the season gets closer, as some highly talented players have the option of opting out due to COVID-19.

The 2020 college football season is going to be a lot different than years past, as there’s still chances of changes being made before the first kickoff. Games like Ohio State Vs. Oregon in week 2 are out the door, and Big Ten teams have a ten-game season against strictly their own conference. 

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