Wisconsin football team in huddle
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska Preparing for Matchup With Wisconsin Amid Reports Game Will Be Canceled

October 27, 2020

Nebraska’s matchup with Wisconsin may be in jeopardy, according to a report by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jeff Potrykus.

A source shared with the Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin’s “test positivity rate is close to the threshold that would force the team to stop regular practice and competition for a minimum of seven days and then reassess the situation.”

The Big Ten announced dual testing thresholds for competition in September.

  • Test positivity rate (number of positive tests divided by total number of tests administered):
    • Green 0-2%
    • Orange 2-5%
    • Red >5%
  • Population positivity rate (number of positive individuals divided by total population at risk):
    • Green 0-3.5%
    • Orange 3.5-7.5%
    • Red >7.5%

Teams that test Green/Green or Green/Orange are allowed to continue with normal practice and competition. Teams that fall in the Orange/Orange or Orange/Red categories must, per the Big Ten release, “proceed with caution and enhance COVID-19 prevention (alter practice and meeting schedule, consider viability of continuing with scheduled competition).” At Red/Red, a team must halt practice and competition for a minimum of seven days.

This follows an earlier report that Wisconsin redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz’s positive COVID-19 test had been confirmed. Chase Wolf, the Badgers’ third-stringer, reportedly also tested positive for COVID-19, but additional confirmation has not been made available at this time.

Badger Coach Paul Chryst said Monday that he couldn’t comment on anything relating to testing and COVID-19, but felt good about the matchup being played.

“I feel confident in everything that’s happening right now,” Chryst said. “There are things in place, really every conference has it. I feel confident going forward this week.”

Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez was observing the Badgers’ practice Tuesday morning while recording an interview with Chris Schmidt of Hail Varsity Radio. Alvarez says Wisconsin tests its on-field personnel—including players, coaches and practice support staff—between 6 and 7:30 a.m. each day.

Alvarez said the daily rapid testing allows schools to “guarantee that you have a clean practice field and a clean playing field that pretty much eliminates your contact tracing.” The Badgers, then, would have had enough players to practice Tuesday morning, though there’s plenty of gray area with Big Ten protocols that could still bring Wisconsin close to testing thresholds.

As for Nebraska, the Huskers are still planning to play Wisconsin on Saturday according to reports from the Athletic Department. Coaches and players spoke Tuesday about their preparation for Wisconsin with uncertainty at the Badgers’ QB spot. Defensive lineman Casey Rogers said it also reminded the players that while they may feel safe within their bubbles, they can’t take it for granted.

If the game cannot be played, the Big Ten previously shared that it would be deemed a “no contest” rather than a forfeit.

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