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Report: Conference-only schedule 'most likely option' for Big Ten fall sports

The proposal would reduce travel and allow more COVID-19 testing.

According to a report by ESPN, the Big Ten is considering using a conference-only schedule for sports this fall and is considered "the most likely outcome" per a source with knowledge of the discussions.

Such a decision would help the Big Ten reduce travel during the COVID-19 pandemic while also allowing the conference to help ensure that teams are being tested for the virus universally.

While the decision would affect all college athletics, the biggest change would be in the college football landscape where teams traditionally play non-conference games against top opponents to improve their resume for the college football playoff.

For the Gophers, that decision would increase their strength of schedule dramatically. Minnesota is currently slated to play three non-conference home games in 2020 against Florida Atlantic, Tennessee Tech and BYU. 

In addition, the Gophers' conference schedule also avoided games against traditional powers Ohio State and Michigan, which could be added if the Big Ten goes to a 10-game, conference only schedule. It could be assumed that a move would add one additional East division opponent to the slate, which could create a "luck of the draw" situation.

The fate of the 2020 college football season has been up in the air has teams have returned to campus to prepare. In June, Clemson had 37 football players test positive for COVID-19 and 13 players from the University of Texas football team tested positive shortly after returning to practice.

This has caused doubt as to whether a 2020 season would happen and while some believe a contingency plan could be to see games played in the spring of 2021, others such as the Ivy League have shut down fall sports completely for this upcoming season.

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