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Giger counters: Not very likely that PSU and Big Ten teams will get to play all 9 games

Seeing Big Ten games get canceled this football season seems to be be an inevitability.

Tuesday, it was announced that Notre Dame’s game at Wake Forest this Saturday will be postponed because of positive COVID tests at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had seven players test positive, out of 94 tests given Monday.

There have been several games postponed around the country so far this season, including Houston vs. Baylor this past Saturday.

The Big Ten is scheduled to begin play Oct. 24 and will play for nine consecutive weeks. Because of the late start date, it will leave no margin for error if there’s a high COVID situation at some school.

In that case, the game will be canceled and won’t be made up.

It’s a situation the Big Ten put itself in by starting the season so late. There had been talk the league would start Oct. 17, which would have allowed for at least one additional week, but the Oct. 24 start date leaves no wiggle room.

“We’re going to put together a nine-game schedule,” Penn State AD Sandy Barbour said last week.

“We don’t know how many of those games will get played,” Barbour added. “If anything, the first couple of games (of the college season) have been examples of that for us.”

If one Big Ten team cannot play a game because of COVID issues, it will not count as a forfeit for that team.

Here’s a look at the numbers involved the Big Ten will be looking at with regards to if or when a team must stop practicing or playing games.

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As you can see, 5 percent is the key number in positive tests. If a team tests 100 players and six are positive, plus if the population positivity rate is above 7.5 percent, it will have to stop competing for at least seven days.

James Franklin has discussed how Penn State has done a good job with COVID protocols so far and added that the players will have to “look out for and remind each other to make good choices.”

“The accountability is going to need to come from, not just the administration and the coaches, but the players,” Franklin said.

That’s a good point, and it will be up to the leaders on the team to make sure everyone stays safe and does the right thing.

Even with all of that, however, COVID has shown that it can sneak into groups and still spread. And even if Penn State does an excellent job containing the virus, there’s a chance one of the other teams it will be playing could have issues, forcing games to be canceled.

We’re all excited to have football back, and hopefully we get to see nine games this season.

But with the Big Ten not starting until Oct. 24 — putting the entire season squarely in the middle of the traditionally cold time of year when people get sick from all sorts of things — it just seems overly optimistic to think all the games will indeed get played.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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