The Big Ten's truncated 2020 football season will feature an unprecedented conference championship week as all 14 teams will play a ninth game on the weekend of the league title game. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who leads the conference's scheduling subcommittee, revealed the plan Wednesday in a presentation on Big Ten Network.
"We will play eight games plus one," Alvarez said. "Very unique champions week, where the teams from the East and West will match up and play one another."
The league's schedule is likely to be announced this week and is expected to be an eight-game, conference-only slate beginning the weekend of Oct. 24 with the all-inclusive championship week and ninth game coming the weekend of Dec. 19.
Under the plan, the two division winners will play each other in the conference title game like normal with the second-place teams from each division facing off and so on all the way down to the seventh-place teams from each division. Alvarez noted the league will try to avoid having teams play each other twice and said it's not been determined where the additional championship week games will be played.
"It gives everyone an opportunity to play nine games," Alvarez said. "We wanted to make the season meaningful. You have a number of players trying to make a decision whether they're opting in or opting out. So we wanted to make it a meaningful season. Nine games, we felt, was very meaningful."
The move could also have an impact on the College Football Playoff conversation. If Ohio State lost a game in the regular season and finished second in the Big Ten East, it would have an additional opportunity to impress the selection committee the day before the four teams in the CFP are announced. Playing a ninth game will also boost the league's case for getting a team into the playoff as the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are all scheduled to play at least 10 games.