No. 10 Wisconsin will not play Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 7, due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak within its program. An announcement from the school on Tuesday noted that all football-related activities remain paused due to the outbreak. In all, the school reports 27 active cases among 15 athletes and 12 staff members since Oct. 24.
Among those infected with the virus is coach Paul Chryst. While the school does not release information pertaining to active cases among its players, it has been reported that starting quarterback Graham Mertz and backup quarterback Chase Wolf are . Infected players are required to sit out 21 days from the date of their original positive antigen test, per Big Ten protocols.
“I share in the disappointment of our student-athletes and staff,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said in the statement. “We have seen a level of improvement in our testing numbers, but not enough to give us confidence to resume normal activities and play our game on Saturday. We will continue to test regularly, take the proper health-related precautions and look forward to getting our team back on the field as soon as possible.”
This is the second straight game Wisconsin has been forced to cancel because of the coronavirus. The Badgers previously had to cancel their game against Nebraska on Oct. 31, and the number of cases within Wisconsin’s program has increased since then. Initially, the Badgers saw 12 program members test positive — six players and six staff members. That number rose to 22 as of Oct. 31, per Alvarez.
Since the Big Ten is playing a condensed eight-game regular season format with no bye weeks, the game against the Boilermakers cannot be made up. This now leaves Wisconsin with practically zero margin for error for the rest of the season.
As it stands now, a team must play a minimum of six games to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. If there are enough cancellations elsewhere in the conference, the rounded average number of games played per team could adjust that minimum. Basically, a team cannot play two fewer games than that rounded average number of games played per team and be eligible.
Wisconsin, 1-0, has five more games scheduled. If the Badgers have to cancel any more games — or, if another team cancels on them — it’s unlikely they will be able to play in Indianapolis.