Northwestern will no longer make the trip to the Twin Cities this Saturday, as its matchup with Minnesota was canceled on Monday morning because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Golden Gophers football program.
Our game on Dec. 5 against Northwestern has been canceled and all team-related activities remain paused.https://t.co/hQBdMqxry8— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) November 30, 2020
As a result of the cancelation, Northwestern will clinch the Big Ten West as long as three total Big Ten games are played over the next two weeks.
The Gophers have now recorded 47 positive coronavirus cases within their program since November 19 — 21 student athletes and 26 staff members. After they had to cancel their matchup with Wisconsin last weekend, rendering the Badgers ineligible for the West title with fewer than six games played, the virus remained too much to contain, leading to Monday’s news.
While the Wildcats have avoided an outbreak within their own program so far (knock on wood), the virus has impacted the team in a number of ways, especially in the race to Indy. No news has been released yet about Ohio State’s matchup with Michigan State after the Buckeyes canceled last week’s game with Illinois due to a COVID outbreak of their own. Should that game be called off, Northwestern would likely face an Indiana team now without star quarterback Michael Penix in the Big Ten Championship game due to a torn ACL.
NU could still play this weekend as the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors made a rule amendment a few weeks ago that allows two healthy teams affected by cancellations to play one another. It remains to be seen if any other games will be canceled, and if there is any on-the-fly rescheduling.
Following the news, Fitz said his team will use the bye week to hammer in the fundamentals that were lacking against Michigan State and prepare for their final regular season matchup against rival Illinois on December 12 at Ryan Field.