Wisconsin’s game at Nebraska this weekend has had some doubt cast over it due to the Badgers being hit hard by COVID-19.

The Big Ten Conference has put in place protocols that determine when a game is to be canceled, but institutions are in charge of monitoring their COVID-19 situations and making choices based on that data.

Sources told the Wisconsin State Journal that starter Graham Mertz and backup Chase Wolf have tested positive for COVID-19, and CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported Mertz’s confirmatory PCR test was also positive, meaning he’ll be out of game action for 21 days, per Big Ten protocol. Wolf’s PCR test results were not known as of Tuesday afternoon.

While some conferences set limits that require teams to have a certain number of available scholarship players or players available at each position, the Big Ten is using team positivity rates to determine if games will be played. Games not played because of COVID-19 are considered no contests and won’t affect a team’s record.

The conference’s protocols state that a team cannot practice or play if its seven-day rolling average of virus positivity rate surpasses 5% among players and 7.5% among the team population, which includes coaches, staff members and others closely interacting with the team.

Positivity rate is calculated by dividing the number of positive tests by the total number of tests administered.

Reaching those figures will be difficult for teams to do without significant spread of the virus among the team.

Let’s start with the 7.5% among team population. The denominator used for that metric is 170 individuals, the maximum number of people allowed to be tested daily by Big Ten teams. So to surpass a 7.5% seven-day positivity rate, a team population would have to average 13 positive tests in a seven-day span.

The denominator for the players’ rate is the total number of players tested. For UW, if it were to test its entire 113-man roster, reaching the 5% mark would mean averaging six new positive tests in a seven-day span.

However, there are some factors that complicate the number of positives needed to exceed the acceptable positivity rates.

According to the CDC, an individual who recovers from COVID-19 can continue to test positive for the virus for 90 days, even if he is considered not to be contagious. So some who have had coronavirus and recovered, depending on the timeline of their diagnosis and recovery, may be removed from the testing pool.

Lawrence might stay at Clemson

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence stopped short of calling an audible on his plans to head to the NFL next year, though the likely No. 1 pick in next year’s draft did not rule out returning to school.

“My mind-set has been that I’m going to move on,” said the 6-foot-6 QB with the flowing hair. “But who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen.”

Lawrence had publicly laid out his plans before Clemson’s opener at Wake Forest last month: play this college season, graduate in December with his bachelor’s degree in marketing and get ready for the NFL.

That has led to reports about which NFL teams might win the Lawrence sweepstakes — and the front-runner right now is the offensively challenged New York Jets. At 0-7, the Jets are the NFL’s only winless team.

And speculation is that he might stay in school another year to avoid playing for the hapless franchise.

Penn State RB out for year

Penn State running back Noah Cain will miss the rest of the season because of an injury, another blow to the 18th-ranked Nittany Lions’ backfield as they prepare to face No. 3 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin declined to give specifics of Cain’s injury, but the sophomore left Saturday’s overtime loss to Indiana early and reportedly was seen on the sideline later with a walking boot on his left foot.

The loss of Cain, who ran for 443 yards and eight touchdowns last year, comes about a week after Penn State announced its leading rusher from last season, Journey Brown, could miss this entire season with an unspecified medical condition.

Sophomore Devyn Ford ended up being Penn State’s lead back against the Hoosiers, carrying 20 times for 69 yards and a score.


Southern Mississippi interim coach Scotty Walden is leaving the school, effective immediately, to become the head coach at Austin Peay. Walden will fill a vacancy that has been open since July.