Big Ten football to return Oct. 24

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Big Ten football is almost back.

The conference announced Wednesday that it will begin its postponed 2020 football season with a targeted start date of Oct. 24.

Its plan includes daily antigen testing and enhanced cardiac screening.

The earliest a player can return to game action after a positive COVID-19 test is 21 days. A team must halt practice and game activity for at least seven days if at least 5% of its members test positive.

Assuming no games are missed, a late-October kickoff should allow for the possibility of a Big Ten team playing in the College Football Playoff.

The conference has an eight-game regular season planned but will also have corresponding seeds from each division face each other in a ninth game at the end of the schedule, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said, according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman. In a normal year, only the two No. 1 seeds would meet in the final week before bowl season to determine the conference champion.

In early August, the Big Ten's presidents and chancellors voted to postpone all fall sports due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the leaders of Nebraska, Ohio State, and Iowa voted to proceed with the season in an 11-3 vote.

This vote to return to play was unanimous.

Numerous Big Ten players campaigned to play following the initial vote to postpone. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields created a petition that received more than 300,000 signatures, and eight Nebraska players filed a lawsuit against the conference.

Fields was among the players sharing excitement after Wednesday's announcement:

Big Ten football to return Oct. 24
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