College Football Holds Its Breath as Season Approaches

Elwanda Tulloch

Alabama recently reported 1,200 positive COVID-19 tests among its students.

Auburn returned to practice Monday without 16 football players for virus-related reasons.

Iowa, while taking a Big Ten-ordered pandemic pause from games, called off all athletic practices because of a virus spike until Sept. 7.

Notre Dame just announced only students, players’ families, faculty and staff will be permitted inside its stadium on game day. 

Kansas will play football without any fans. 

In a virus-free world, the Michigan-Washington game would have been played Saturday.

OK, what football season?

As the college game pushes toward the FBS season openers on Thursday — roughly 60 percent of the teams are pursuing games while the others are sitting out the season — the novel coronavirus is still not cooperating. 

There remains a general sense that while the coming NCAA season will launch for most of the 76 hard-liners over the next month, it’s

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Mapping College Football Crowds and Covid Risk

Elwanda Tulloch

While public discourse around college football’s return has focused on the student-athlete risk, fan attendance could have a greater impact on overall public health. For the programs still planning to play this fall, yet another decision looms: Will there be fans at games? And if so, how many?

There have already been instances of the health risks that come from crowded sporting events. The first came Feb. 19, as nearly 2,500 fans of Spanish soccer club Valencia traveled to Italy to watch a Champions League match against Atalanta. They were among the 44,236 fans inside Milan’s San Siro Stadium, and several weeks later, after it was determined to be a coronavirus “super-spreading event” that played a significant role in outbreaks locally and in Spain, the match became known as “Game Zero.”

ESPN interviewed more than a dozen epidemiologists and infectious disease experts about the role college football could play in

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Guerin Emig: Asterisks in preseason top 25 show there’s no place for normalcy in college football right now | OU Sports Extra

Elwanda Tulloch

Say Alabama, Georgia or Oklahoma jumps from 3, 4 or 5 into Ohio State’s No. 2 position. Are we going to stop comparing the Crimson Tide, Bulldogs or Sooners to the team Ryan Day would have rolled out had there not been a pandemic?

When December hits and assuming the Power 3 are still at it, are we going to stop imagining how Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields would have reshaped the Heisman Trophy race?

When whatever College Football Playoff hits, what then? Say what you will about Clemson/SEC playoff superiority, it isn’t like the Big Ten and Pac-12 have missed the party every year.

And how is this supposed to work whenever the Big Ten and Pac-12 get around to staging their version of the season? How are AP voters supposed to slot teams then?

What does the Heisman Trust do, hand out two trophies? What does the CFP do,

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OSU football analysis: Breaking down stats of the previous College Football Playoff quarterbacks as a benchmark for Spencer Sanders | OSU Sports Extra

Elwanda Tulloch

Recent CFP quarterback comparisons

2020 Playoff 

Joe Burrow (LSU): 402-527 (76.3%); 5,671 yds; 60 TD; 6 INT

Rushing: 115 att; 368 yds; 5 TD

Jalen Hurts (OU): 237-340 (69.7%); 3,851 yds; 32 TD; 8 INT

Rushing: 233 att; 1,298 yds; 20 TD

Trevor Lawrence (Clemson): 268-407 (65.8%); 3,665 yds; 36 TD; 8 INT

Rushing: 103 att; 563 yds; 9 TD

Justin Fields (Ohio St.): 238-354 (67.2%); 3,273 yds; 41 TD; 3 INT

Rushing: 137 att; 484 yds; 10 TD


Lawrence (Clemson): 259-397 (65.2%); 3,280 yds; 30 TD; 4 INT

Rushing: 60 att; 177 yds; 1 TD

Ian Book (Notre Dame): 214-314 (68.2%); 2,628 yds; 19 TD; 7 INT

Rushing: 95 att; 280 yds; 4 TD

Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama): 245-355 (69%); 3,966 yds; 43 TD; 6 INT

Rushing: 57 att; 190 yds; 5 TD

Kyler Murray (OU): 260-377 (69%); 4,361 yds; 42 TD; 7 INT

Rushing: 140 att; 1,001 yds;

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Questions raised as students leave campus with the 2020 college football season approaching

Elwanda Tulloch

Watch Now:
CBS Sports Preseason All-America Team: Trevor Lawrence Highlights List

Think about one of the biggest criticisms of big-time college athletics before the COVID-19 pandemic: Players are isolated from the student body, tucked away in the athletic facility spending more time on their sport than their major. Critics even used the word “bubble” to describe the world in which they lived.

Now for your weekly measure of coronavirus surrealism: A bubble might be the only thing that saves college football.

Not through any strategic planning, mind you. It might be all that’s left to try given the circumstances.

This week, three teams playing in the ACC this year (Notre Dame, North Carolina, NC State) either sent students home or paused in-person classes because of COVID-19 outbreaks.

That’s just a sample. UCLA has “drastically” reduced on-campus housing due to the virus. The Chronicle of Higher Education counted

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Preseason College Football Rankings 2020: Twitter Reacts to AP NCAA Top 25 Poll | Bleacher Report

Elwanda Tulloch

Clemson running back Travis Etienne carries the ball against South Carolina during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Columbia, S.C. Clemson defeated South Carolina 38-3. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Sean Rayford/Associated Press

What if, in January 2020, someone had told you that when the AP NCAA Top 25 poll was released in the fall, Ohio State would come in at No. 2 in the preseason poll but would drop out of the Top 25 altogether the next week?

It would have seemed more than far-fetched, but given the unusual way the college football season is unfolding during the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s exactly what will happen—not only to Ohio State, but to all programs from the Big Ten and Pac-12 currently ranked. 

The Associated Press asked its panel of 62 voters to consider all Division I programs when filling out their ballots for the Week 1 poll, even those that play in conferences that have canceled their college football seasons. According to the NCAA, “67 out of 130 Bowl Subdivision teams, including those from the ACC, Big 12 and SEC,

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Big Ten working on plan that could start its college football season in early January, per report

Elwanda Tulloch

Watch Now:
Filling Out College Football Playoff With Three Power Five Conferences

When the Big Ten announced it was canceling its fall season, it said that it hoped to hold the season in the spring. Well, the conference might not even wait that long.

The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel reports that the Big Ten has been working on a revised schedule that would begin in early January. The report cites multiple sources within the conference, saying that the Big Ten is now concentrating on starting the season as early as possible.

It’s a report that coincides with Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour telling reporters earlier in the week that the league could release a new schedule within a week or so.

The reported reason the Big Ten has decided to start the season as soon as possible is that it wants to have its season finished before the

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We simulated a video game to try making the greatest college basketball coach ever at Western Illinois

Elwanda Tulloch

Welcome back to the Western Illinois Leathernecks’ chase for greatness in our simulated dynasty in College Hoops 2K8. This series was started in the early days of the pandemic after real sports were put on hiatus. The objective was spelled out bluntly in the headline of the very first story: Can the worst college basketball program ever win a video game national championship?

a person holding a sign

I decided to takeover Western Illinois University in College Hoops 2K8 — the last college basketball video game made by 2K Sports — and try to lead them to a title while simulating every game. I would only control the recruiting and coaching strategies. Now in Year 19 of the series, the goal has changed. At this point, I’m trying to see if Coach Rick — better known as Ricky Charisma — can turn into the greatest college basketball coach of the modern era.

Here’s how

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College Football Is Education, Too

Elwanda Tulloch

(Bloomberg Opinion) — The University of North Carolina and Notre Dame have both suspended in-person classes because of an outbreak of Covid-19 cases among students. Yet both will continue their athletic programs, including their football seasons. Despite the view that this is a sick inversion of priorities — putting sports over classroom learning — there is a case to be made that both schools did the right thing.

First, football has always been more dangerous than the core educational project of universities. The dangers of football include the risk of concussions, which turns out to have been greatly underrated, and more generally broken bones, sprains, fractures and the psychological trauma of constantly being banged up. It would be better for American society simply to abandon the sport, in fact.

Still, if football is to continue, it’s not clear why Covid-19 should necessarily stop it. The virus may not even be

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