Nugent: When it comes to winning a division Wisconsin did the right thing this week

Huskers at Ohio State
Huskers at Ohio State(Nebraska Athletics)
Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 3:37 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Don’t blame Wisconsin, blame the Big Ten.

Sure, I don’t think anybody is adding Barry Alvarez to their Christmas card list. I get it, they choose not to play without even reaching the level of cases the Big Ten requires to trigger a pause. A standard that is as tough as it gets in college football.

But, Wisconsin probably made the right decision based on what they were facing. What might have played the biggest factor in this decision? The 21 days the Big Ten decided a player must be out after testing positive.

First, as the favorite in this half of the conference, the Badgers need to first make sure they are eligible to play in the Big Ten Championship game. Unlike every other year, they can’t take that for granted, nobody can. As of today, and this could change based how many more canceled games happen the rest of the way, a team needs to play six regular season games to be able to play for the championship.

One big outbreak could cost a division champ a spot in Indianapolis. Say they go 4-1 or 5-0 in their five games.

Now to the 21 days a player has to be out, Wisconsin needs to protect itself, every team needs to protect itself.

Early in the week, when the positive tests were coming back, reality was setting in for the Badgers, they knew they would be without their best two healthy quarterbacks for three weeks. Imagine how damaging this could be, if they didn’t take the pause risking even more spread. Imagine losing a fifth, a fourth, a third of your roster for three weeks in an eight week regular season. Especially if you feel like you have a team that can win the division.

Is it really responsible from a football perspective to hope the outbreak you’re dealing with is only going to impact 12 people and six players when you didn’t have any cases five days before? The unknown was significant.

Beyond the health and safety of the players, the 21 day period the players face in the Big Ten is very punishing when you’re trying to win ballgames.

It makes sense to not play and not even cost yourself a loss while keeping your title hopes alive.

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