COVID-19 causes Gophers to cancel game with No. 18 Wisconsin

Gophers host Badgers in big college football game
Jordan Howden of the Minnesota Gophers breaks up a pass intended for Jake Ferguson of the Wisconsin Badgers during a game in 2019. Minnesota is calling off its scheduled game Saturday at Wisconsin due to positive COVID-19 cases within its program, a move that likely knocks the 18th-ranked Badgers out of consideration for the Big Ten championship game.
Hannah Foslien | Getty Images 2019

Minnesota is calling off its scheduled game Saturday at Wisconsin due to positive COVID-19 cases within its program, a move that likely knocks the 18th-ranked Badgers out of consideration for the Big Ten championship game.

The Minnesota-Wisconsin game won’t be rescheduled. Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle, president Joan Gabel and athletic medical director Brad Nelson opted against playing the game after consulting with Big Ten officials.

School officials didn’t say how many active cases they had.

Big Ten protocols this season say that teams must play at least six games to be eligible for the league championship game. If the average number of conference games played by all Big Ten teams is below six, programs must play no less than two fewer league games than that average to be considered.

Wisconsin (2-1) has only two games remaining on its schedule and won’t reach that six-game minimum. The Badgers dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this season that caused them to call off scheduled games with Nebraska and Purdue.

The Badgers’ only remaining games are at home against No. 12 Indiana (4-1) on Dec. 5 and at Iowa (3-2) on Dec. 12

This will mark the first season since 1906 that hasn’t included a Wisconsin-Minnesota matchup, a decorated Big Ten rivalry in which the two teams play for Paul Bunyan's Axe. President Theodore Roosevelt decided the most intense college football rivalries shouldn’t be played that year due to injuries and deaths on the field.

Wisconsin and Minnesota have faced each other 129 times, making it the most-played series involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Wisconsin leads the series 61-60-8.

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