Big Ten Conference Dealing With COVID-19
The Big Ten Conference kicked off its 2020 football season last weekend, and now the league is already dealing with a positive COVID-19 test.
The league was expecting to have to deal with the pandemic at some point, but it has already affected one of the top teams in the conference.
According to sources, Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has tested positive for COVID-19, and the school is waiting for the results of another test to confirm the diagnosis. After the antigen test came back positive over the weekend, the school will administer a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to determine the outcome.
If that test does come back positive, then Mertz will be forced to miss a minimum of 21 days. The Big Ten Conference has created a strict protocol for players and other team personnel that test positive with COVID-19.
Mertz made his first career start with the Badgers on Friday night and put up some record-setting stats under center. The redshirt freshman was 20-for-21 for 248 yards and five touchdowns in the win over the Illinois Fighting Illini.
Mertz is considered to be the top-ranked quarterback recruit in the history of Wisconsin football but was only inserted into the lineup after an injury to Jack Coan. Coan underwent surgery on October 21 after suffering a foot injury in training camp.
The University of Wisconsin is not releasing any information to the public about COVID-19 test results, but the school has acknowledged that there have been several false-positives since the antigen testing has begun. The Big Ten Conference requires for both tests to be administered to eliminate these types of results.
Wisconsin did release a statement on Sunday announcing that no player who tested positive for COVID-19 appeared in the win over Illinois. If a second positive test is returned on Mertz, contact tracing would begin, and the Badgers could be without many other players moving forward.
Big Ten Conference Represented in the Polls
Despite playing just one game apiece, the Big Ten Conference has landed several teams in the latest AP Top 25 poll. Teams from the Big Ten Conference are eligible to be selected in the College Football Playoff later this year.
The Ohio State Buckeyes moved up to No. 3 in the polls after a convincing win over Nebraska on Saturday. Ohio State is widely considered the best chance for the Big Ten Conference to have a representative in the College Football Playoff.
Wisconsin (No. 9) and Michigan (13) also moved up in the rankings this week after convincing wins in their respective season openers. Michigan’s win over Minnesota knocked the Golden Gophers out of the rankings for Week 9.
Indiana was the big winner in Week 8, upsetting Penn State in overtime to jump into the Top 25. The Hoosiers enter this week at No. 17 in the polls, which is the best ranking the school has had since 1993.
Despite the loss to Indiana, Penn State remained in the Top 25 but did fall all the way down to No. 18.
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