Minnesota announced the decision Tuesday evening, saying the football team is pausing all activities as it responds to positive COVID-19 cases in the program.
"Disappointment is a good word", Coyle said, later adding: "It's something that none of us can control". And after already missing two games earlier this season for its own coronavirus outbreak, the Badgers can only play a maximum of five games. The Big Ten mandated that teams must compete in at least six games this season to be eligible to compete in the conference championship. The Big Ten started its season later than most conferences, though, leaving no time to reschedule ahead of the College Football Playoffs, with the semifinals kicking off January 1, 2021. Wisconsin's prior matchups against Nebraska and Purdue were called off due to positive tests within the Badgers football program.
The next scheduled game for the Badgers is December 5th against Indiana. "We will return when it is determined safe to do so by medical experts".
At 5-0, Northwestern needs just one win out of its final three games to seal the Big Ten West crown for the second time since 2018.
This will mark the first gap in the Minnesota-Wisconsin series since 1906, when safety concerns around the sport kept some of the most intense rivalries from being played. The Badgers and Golden Gophers had played for 113 consecutive years. The conference could always alter that plan and stage a Minnesota-Wisconsin redo, but Coyle declined to speculate on that.