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story.lead_photo.caption Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Players were pumped. Coaches were stoked. Fans seemed relieved.

The Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all.

Less than five weeks after pushing fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference ran a reverse Wednesday and said it plans to open its football season the weekend of Oct. 23-24.

"Let's goooooo!!!" Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields tweeted.

The tone was more muted for others.

"We can't emphasize enough that what we're putting forward still requires prevention, requires accountability from everyone involved, from our student-athletes to coaches to staff to be doing the things to prevent getting this infection," said Dr. Jim Borchers, the team physician for Ohio State. "And our progress will be measured by their efforts, but also we hope by the efforts to provide a clean competition and practice environment."

All 14 teams will be scheduled to play eight regular-season games in eight weeks, plus have the opportunity to play a ninth game on Dec. 19 when the conference championship game is played. The College Football Playoff selections are scheduled for Dec. 20, which means the Big Ten's best should be back in the hunt for a national championship -- if all goes well.

If it does not, the schedule does not provide much room to adapt. Other conferences built in bye weeks, which allows time to deal with potential disruptions. The Big Ten itself did that back in early August, but now must go forward with a condensed schedule and signs that things could go awry.

Across major college football since Aug. 26, 13 games have been postponed because of teams dealing with covid-19 issues, including Saturday's game between Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas.

The Big Ten is banking on daily testing to mitigate the risk of outbreaks and decrease the probability that a few positive tests will gut rosters when contact tracing sends players into 14-day quarantines. The Big Ten will begin daily antigen testing of all fall sports athletes, coaches and staff Sept. 30.

The Big Ten is taking an especially cautious approach with those who do test positive: The earliest an athlete will be able to return to game competition is 21 days after a positive diagnosis, and following a cardiac evaluation and clearance from a cardiologist.

"We're in a better place, regardless of how we got here or how painful it was during the time we waited to get this moment," Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said. "That's all behind us. What's beautiful is that we have a process and protocols in place that's based on science and based on lessons learned since Aug. 11."

The Big Ten said its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to restart sports. The vote last month was 11-3 to postpone, with Ohio State, Iowa and Nebraska voting against.

Still, the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., won't be packed with 100,000 fans as is usually the case in the fall. Not even close. Tickets will not be sold to the general public for Big Ten games, though some attendance is expected.

That's still an 80,000-seat stadium that we don't have," said Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who had estimated the loss of football would cost the school $100 million.

The decision to play came after sharp pressure from coaches, players, parents and even President Donald Trump, all of them pushing for a Big Ten football season.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro, chairman of the presidents' council, said the turning point for him on giving the green light to football -- even though many students have not been allowed back on his school's Evanston, Ill., campus -- didn't come until this past weekend.

"For me, it wasn't about political pressure, money or lawsuits," Schapiro said. "It was about the unanimous opinion of our experts. It evolved over the course of weeks."

The Big Ten postponed fall sports just six days after unveiling a modified, conference-only schedule that was set to begin Labor Day weekend, and indicated it would try to make up the season in the spring. But there was no plan in place and the reaction included criticism.

The Pac-12 followed the Big Ten in postponing play last month, but was far more detailed in its explanation and has more hurdles to clear. Half the Pac-12 schools are still operating under statewide restrictions that make it impossible for teams to even practice. The Pac-12 CEO Group is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the conference's options.

Alvarez said Big Ten teams can begin practicing immediately.

"They never lost faith. They never lost trust. Their behavior through this time has been excellent, and they never stopped fighting," said Ohio State zvoach Ryan Day, whose team was ranked No. 2 in the preseason Top 25.

The new schedule comes with a twist. On championship Saturday, the plan is to provide each team an additional game, matching teams by their places in the division standings: No. 2 vs. No. 2, No. 3 vs. No. 3 and so on. Alvarez said those matchups could be tweaked to avoid rematches.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said the Big Ten’s decision to play football this fall was the right one, despite its original call to do otherwise. “We’re in a better place, regardless of how we got here or how painful it was during the time we waited to get this moment,” he said.
(AP file photo)
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said the Big Ten’s decision to play football this fall was the right one, despite its original call to do otherwise. “We’re in a better place, regardless of how we got here or how painful it was during the time we waited to get this moment,” he said. (AP file photo)
The Husker Hounds sports apparel store in Omaha, Neb., shows on television screens Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, a Big Ten virtual news conference to discuss the reopening of the football season. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the Oct. 23-24 weekend. Each team will have an eight-game schedule. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
The Husker Hounds sports apparel store in Omaha, Neb., shows on television screens Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, a Big Ten virtual news conference to discuss the reopening of the football season. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the Oct. 23-24 weekend. Each team will have an eight-game schedule. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Penn State defenders Robert Windsor (54) and Jayson Oweh (28) cause Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan (17) to fumble in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Penn State defenders Robert Windsor (54) and Jayson Oweh (28) cause Rutgers quarterback Johnny Langan (17) to fumble in the third quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)
FILE  - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Northwestern celebrates with the Land Of Lincoln trophy after beating Illinois 29-10 in an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Northwestern celebrates with the Land Of Lincoln trophy after beating Illinois 29-10 in an NCAA college football game in Champaign, Ill. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, turf manager Jared Hertzel touches up the newly-painted Big Ten conference logo on the football field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (Jacob Hannah/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, turf manager Jared Hertzel touches up the newly-painted Big Ten conference logo on the football field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (Jacob Hannah/Lincoln Journal Star via AP, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2019, file photo, Iowa freshman running back Tyrone Tracy Jr., runs the ball for a touchdown against USC in the first quarter during the Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game in San Diego. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2019, file photo, Iowa freshman running back Tyrone Tracy Jr., runs the ball for a touchdown against USC in the first quarter during the Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game in San Diego. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2019, file photo, Michigan State wide receiver Julian Barnett (2) makes a catch in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24.  (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2019, file photo, Michigan State wide receiver Julian Barnett (2) makes a catch in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2019, file photo, Minnesota football players hold up the Governor's Victory Bell after winning 31-26 against Penn State during an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2019, file photo, Minnesota football players hold up the Governor's Victory Bell after winning 31-26 against Penn State during an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Indiana tight end Turon Ivy Jr. (84) and place kicker Nathanael Snyder (99) celebrate with the Old Oaken Bucket following an NCAA college football game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, Indiana tight end Turon Ivy Jr. (84) and place kicker Nathanael Snyder (99) celebrate with the Old Oaken Bucket following an NCAA college football game against Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2019, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against Wisconsin during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, in Indianapolis. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2019, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs with the ball against Wisconsin during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, in Indianapolis. Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after pushing football and other fall sports to spring in the name of player safety during the pandemic, the conference changed course Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, and said it plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 23-24. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
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