Major College Football Conferences Remain Split, Six Prepare to Start Play Next Month

Posted on: August 14, 2020, 10:59h. 

Last updated on: August 17, 2020, 11:07h.

As it stands right now, a handful of major college football conferences appear dogged in their determination to play college football this fall. This comes after the Big Ten and PAC-12 announced earlier this week that their schools would not play because of COVID-19, and instead pursue a spring season.

college football COVID
Nebraska coach Scott Frost pushed for the Cornhuskers to play this fall, But the Big Ten’s announcement earlier this week to postpone the 2020 college football season because of COVID-19 will keep his team sidelined until at least January. (Image: Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

Those two conferences aren’t alone in making that determination. The Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference — two other Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) conferences — have also pulled the plug on a fall season because of the coronavirus. So, too, did independents New Mexico State, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and Old Dominion also postponed fall football, even as its league, Conference USA (CUSA), has decided to continue on.

On Thursday, the NCAA followed suit by declaring none of the fall sports it oversees would be able to hold a championship. The one sport the organization doesn’t control is FBS football.

As for now, the college football conferences still planning to play this fall are the ACC, SEC, Big 12, CUSA, American Athletic, and Sun Belt. Some independent teams – Army, Brigham Young, and Liberty – plan to play this season.

Notre Dame, a traditional football independent, has decided to join the ACC, the conference where most of its other teams play. But while the school has jumped into ACC, don’t expect other schools whose leagues have put off football in the fall to jump ship.

While Nebraska Scott Frost insinuated that the Cornhuskers, which play in the Big Ten, may look to play elsewhere, the school’s president and chancellor responded quickly with a statement saying they are committed to the Big Ten.

Games Start Next Month, For Now

So, where do things stand? It’s still a little murky, and even as conferences have announced schedules, it’s still possible there may be some changes thanks in part to the late cancellations.

For now, according to, the first college game of the season appears to be South Alabama at Southern Miss on Thursday, Sept. 3.

The first big weekend of action would start on Sept. 12, when ACC and Big 12 teams are scheduled to start play. The SEC, which is playing a conference-only schedule this season, is expected to start on play on Sept. 26.

What happens after that is anybody’s guess. Championship games in the conferences planning to play are still scheduled for December. But whether bowl games or a national championship take place in December and January remains to be seen.

Speaking of January, Sports Illustrated reported if Purdue coach Jeff Brohm gets his wish, the Boilermakers coach would like to see the Big Ten start training camp in mid-January to prepare for an eight-week, conference-only schedule that would start at the end of February. The season would end in mid-April, with a possible championship game taking place in May.

Clemson, Oklahoma, Alabama Conference Favorites

With so much uncertainty about the college football season, it’s little wonder than sportsbooks aren’t offering too much of a market for bettors.

DraftKings has lines on just two games right now. The annual Texas-Oklahoma contest, scheduled for Oct. 10, with Oklahoma a 2.5-point favorite, and the Nov. 7 showdown between Clemson and Notre Dame. Clemson, which was the national title favorite before betting on that was suspended, is a 7.5-point road favorite against the Fighting Irish.

DraftKings also offers betting on the championships for the ACC, Big 12, and SEC. Clemson is the heavy favorite in the ACC at -455, with Notre Dame the second choice at +600. In the Big 12, Oklahoma is the -125 favorite, followed by Texas +175. In the SEC, Alabama is the favorite at -143, with Georgia next at +200.

FanDuel is also providing odds on the three conferences. Clemson (-350), Oklahoma (+125), and Alabama (+110) are the respective favorites. PointsBet has the same three as favorites, too, with Clemson at -500, Oklahoma at -120, and Alabama at -145.