2020 college football schedule news: American, Mountain West clarify plans as Big Ten sets team slates

As the country continues to battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, college conferences across the country are in the process of deciding how they will approach the fall sports season -- if they play games at all. All Power Five conferences have now laid out their general plans, with only the Big Ten announcing dates for games at this time.

The SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 will all play conference-only schedules, while the ACC and Big 12 will play conference schedules plus one nonconference game against yet-to-be-determined opponents.

At lower divisions, some leagues have canceled all fall competition while others -- such as the Sun Belt -- are planning to proceed as scheduled, at least for now. Here's the breakdown of what we know about the measures being taken at each division of the sport as the scheduled kickoff of the 2020 college football season approaches.


Big 12: The Big 12 will play 10 games in the fall, including nine conference games and one nonconference game beginning in mid-to-late September. The nonconference games must be played at home before the start of the conference slate. The Big 12 Championship Game is still scheduled for Dec. 5 but could be pushed back by one or two weeks. The league had also been considering a 12-game model. 

Pac-12: A couple days after the Big Ten's announcement, the Pac-12 followed suit and moved to a conference-only schedule for 2020. The league also delayed starting mandatory athletic activities until the coronavirus pandemic began trending significantly in a negative direction. The Pac-12 announced its full schedule on July 31 with the season for the conference set to begin on Saturday, Sept. 26. 

SEC: The SEC announced it will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule. Teams will play the eight opponents they were originally scheduled to play from the league and the next two opponents from their cross-division rotation. The league's announcement left the Big 12 as the lone Power Five conference yet to announce its plans.

ACC: The ACC has decided on an 11-game schedule for the 2020 season, consisting of 10 league games and one nonconference opponent. Notre Dame will join the ACC for 2020 only, playing a full 10-game conference schedule with an additional opponent, which makes it eligible for the ACC Championship Game. Click here for specifics on the 2020 ACC schedule.

Big Ten: The Big Ten's 10-game, conference only schedule will begin in full on Sept. 5 with Ohio State and Illinois kicking off the season on Thursday, Sept. 3. The schedule will conclude on Nov. 21 with a conference-wide open week on Nov. 28. Coupled with two open weeks during the season, each team will have 13 weeks to play 10 games in case make-up games need to be scheduled. The Big Ten Championship Game is scheduled for Dec. 5 in Indianapolis, but can be pushed back as far as Dec. 19. 

ConferenceTotal gamesConf. / Nonconf.Divisions?Start dateTitle game



10 / 1


Sept. 7


Big Ten


10 / 0


Sept. 3

Dec. 5

Big 12


9 / 1



Dec. 5



10 / 0


Sept. 26

Dec. 18/19



10 / 0


Sept. 26

Dec. 19

Independents: Notre Dame is scheduled to play 10 ACC teams this season as part of the conference's updated schedule. BYU lost five games from its schedule when the Pac-12 and Big Ten announced they were moving to conference-only slates. BYU associate athletic director Duff Tittle told the Salt Lake Tribune that "BYU is actively working on a variety of scheduling alternatives since the announcements by the Big Ten and Pac-12 to play conference-only games." The other FBS independents are Army, Liberty, New Mexico State, UConn and UMass. Every FBS independent school has had at least one game wiped out by scheduling changes made by other leagues.

AAC: AAC teams will be allowed to play up to 12 games, if they choose. The league slate is scheduled to consist of eight games, like it usually does, with conference play beginning on Sept. 19. The AAC Championship Game will be played on either Dec. 5, 12 or 19 at the stadium of the regular-season champion

MAC: The league's 12 teams were hit hard when the Big Ten announced it is only playing conference games. MAC teams had a total of 11 games scheduled against Big Ten teams. But the MAC itself has not announced any changes to scheduling protocols.

Mountain West: The league announced that it will play its usual eight-game conference slate and two nonconference games with play permitted to begin Sept. 26. The league championship game will be held one of the first three Saturdays of December. An exact schedule has not been released.

Sun Belt: The Sun Belt announced on Aug. 4 that it will play a full season beginning on Labor Day weekend. Several member schools have had nonconference games canceled, but the league will allow teams to add new nonconference games in order to reach a 12-game slate. A league championship game is scheduled for Dec. 5, but the date can be adjusted if necessary. 

Conference USA: Thus far, C-USA has also lost several games due to scheduling changes made by other leagues. It has announced no schedule changes of its own.


The Football Championship Subdivision is comprised of 13 conferences and two independent programs. So far, six FCS leagues have announced they will not play sports -- football included -- this fall. Those conferences are the Ivy League, MEAC, Patriot League, CAA, NEC and the SWAC. The SWAC did announce it plans to play a seven-game, conference-only schedule in the spring semester.

Division II, III and NAIA

The NCAA Division II and Division III councils canceled their fall championships on Aug. 5, citing the challenges posed by the pandemic. Those decisions came after the NAIA announced on July 31 that its football national championship has been postponed to the spring, though the NAIA left it up to individual conferences on whether or not they still want to have seasons this fall. 

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Division III fall championships were called off earlier in the day, but Division II championships have now been called off as well.

August 5, 2020, 9:05 PM

One byproduct of conferences modifying their schedules is that home and away games get flipped around. Since Michigan State now has to travel to Michigan this year, the game sites will reset and it will be played in East Lansing in 2021.

The Big Ten has announced its 2020 football schedule that will be 10 games, conference only. Here's a look at the schedule grid.

August 5, 2020, 12:50 PM

The AAC is expected to announce its intentions on Wednesday. It is expected that the AAC will play eight conference games and four non-conference games, with the specific start date to be determined.  https://twitter.com/aadelsonES...

The Sun Belt announced today it is planning to play a full season beginning on Labor Day weekend. That means teams will be allowed to play up to four non-conference games in addition to eight league games.

August 4, 2020, 3:13 PM

Keeping with Big 12 scheduling news, Army has announced that its Sept. 26 home game against Oklahoma has been canceled. Not surprising given the 9+1 model for the Big 12 and nonconference games needing to be at home for the Sooners. The Week 0 game against Missouri State is now OU's lone nonconference game.

According to The Athletic, Big 12 teams will play 10 games this fall, including nine conference games and one nonconference game. However, a start date isn't known yet and there is flexibility on the date and location of the conference championship in December.


SMU and Texas State have moved their Week 1 game (Sept. 6) up to Aug. 29 to allow more flexibility in their scheduling with COVID-19. Again, expect to see Sun Belt schools try to play as many games as possible.

It would appear the Sun Belt will try to play 12 games this season, including a full conference slate and four nonconference games. Games that have been canceled because of conference-only slates in other conferences will be replaced. My guess is you'll see G5 conferences do everything they can to play as many games as possible and see what happens as the fall progresses.

The Sooner Athletic Conference of the NAIA has modified its fall sports schedule. Football teams will play three games in the fall and six games in the spring. I might be wrong, but I believe it's the first conference to split up its football season.


The American is reportedly figuring out how to deal with Power Five conferences only playing conference games https://twitter.com/ByPatForde...

Only six schools have their original, full 12-game schedule intact: SMU, Tulsa, FIU, UTEP, Arkon and Texas St. Iowa St also has a 12-game schedule, but replaced Iowa with Ball St. Akron could lose its game at Clemson.
BYU has lost six games, UConn and Hawaii four each, ODU, NM St, Kent St, NIU, Colo St and Troy have lost three each. UConn has two games at ACC teams that are in jeopardy.

July 31, 2020, 6:40 PM

Sun Belt - Texas State is the only team in the 10-team league that still has its full schedule in place after all the cancelations.

July 31, 2020, 6:37 PM

Mountain West - no team in the league is left with its original schedule after the scheduling restrictions imposed by other leagues.

July 31, 2020, 6:36 PM

MAC - The only team that has yet to lose a non-conference game is Akron, but its game with Clemson is likely to disappear.

July 31, 2020, 6:33 PM

AAC - SMU and Tulsa are the only two teams that still have their schedules intact. UCF lost a big game with North Carolina in the ACC shakeup, and could lose the game at Georgia Tech as well.

July 31, 2020, 6:19 PM

Passing along some G5 scheduling nuggets in the wake of all the P5 news....

July 31, 2020, 6:18 PM

Brett McMurphy reports the updates expected to take place in Conference USA.

July 30, 2020, 11:25 PM

Interesting stats here from Matt Brown. Could be the end of current streaks for many rivalries games in the south.

The SEC has made it official that it is moving to a 10-game, league-only slate.

July 30, 2020, 8:47 PM

It won't move the needle much, but the Idaho State-New Mexico State game scheduled for Week 0 has been pushed back a few weeks. A big reason for that is New Mexico's strict traveling and quarantine policies. On the whole, don't be surprised if there's more shuffling with games depending on state-to-state policies.

Keeping with Dodd's reporting from earlier, it would appear the ACC is still considering all options, which would include what to do with Notre Dame. The Irish are not full ACC members, but have a scheduling agreement with the conference.

Mark Blaudschun reports that the ACC schools have their schedules for 2020. However, it's not yet known what that schedule looks like: Conference-only, plus-one or full schedule. CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd has been told, meanwhile, that all options are still on the table and there's nothing definitive yet.

Another option on the table for the Big 12: a conference-only slate that would last from late August to December, about 16 weeks. This plan would include 10 or 11 games, though the conference's preference is still to play a full, 12-game season.

ACC presidents are not expected to make a decision regarding potential scheduling changes at their meeting on Wednesday. They will likely wait until at least next week according to Stadium https://twitter.com/Brett_McMu...

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