College football is going to look a lot different this year, if it gets played at all, during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the smaller conferences have already canceled the 2020 season, and the Power 5 conferences are making changes in hopes of salvaging games.

Many of the sport’s top schools have decided to only play teams within their own conference, while other announcements could soon be on the way. No final decisions have been made regarding the possibility of hosting games without fans, but individual schools are preparing for the potential of playing in front of reduced capacity crowds, at the very least.

Here's a look at the official changes that have been made thus far: 


The Southeastern Conference announced its new plan for a 10-game, conference-only schedule Thursday. Teams had initially been set to face eight conference opponents and four opponents outside of the SEC.

The highly anticipated matchup between LSU and Texas is off the schedule, as is the contest between Tennessee and Oklahoma. The revised schedule eliminates four SEC-ACC rivalry games.

The new SEC schedule starts on Sept. 26. The SEC Championship Game has been moved from Dec. 5 to Dec. 19. 

“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday. 

Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne told season-ticket holders in an email that stadium capacity would be significantly reduced.


On Wednesday, the the Atlantic Coast Conference  said its teams would play a 10-game conference schedule in addition to one non-conference opponent. Thursday’s news from the SEC conflicted with the revised ACC schedule that had been announced a day earlier. Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Notre Dame now only have 10 contests scheduled. They are expected to try to fill the opened dates.

Notre Dame, traditionally an independent, will be included in the ACC schedule this year.

The ACC season starts on the weekend of Sept. 11 and will be played over the course of 13 weeks. The conference championship game will be played on either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19.

Florida State has told season-ticket holders that capacity will be limited and could be as low as 25%. Boston College said games will be played at a reduced capacity or with no fans whatsoever.

Big Ten

The Big Ten became the first Power 5 conference to shift to a conference-only schedule, doing so on July 9. The conference is making the change for all fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic,” the Big Ten said in a statement.

Ohio State announced Tuesday that games will be reduced to 20% capacity, limiting Ohio Stadium to about 21,000 fans. Michigan acknowledged that capacity will be reduced or games could be held without fans, eliminating season tickets. 

Nebraska AD Bill Moos recently told The Lincoln Journal Star that the school hadn’t ruled out having full crowds this season, though it would seem unlikely that 90,000 fans will pack into Memorial Stadium at any point in 2020.


The Pac-12 followed in the Big Ten’s footsteps on July 10, going to a conference-only schedule for fall sports. Each football team usually plays nine conference games, but they are expected to play 10 contests in 2020.

The schedule hasn’t been finalized, but it could take place over 14 weeks, according to reports, in case there are unexpected postponements. The season would start on Sept. 19. The Pac-12 Championship Game is scheduled for Dec. 4, according to ESPN, but it could be moved to one of the following two weekends.  

USC is preparing for reduced capacity in 2020. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in May he doesn’t expect to see filled stadiums until there is a coronavirus vaccine or the state reaches immunity. California is home to one-third of the conference’s teams.

Big 12

The Big 12 is the only Power 5 conference that hasn’t officially altered its schedule. A change is inevitable, considering games with the SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big Ten had been on the docket. The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry has been put on hold for a year. Baylor won’t play Ole Miss, in addition to other previously scheduled matchups. 

With 10 teams in the Big 12, a conference-only schedule might consist of nine games, unless each team has one rematch. Before the SEC and ACC made their respective changes, Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN that the league had hoped to play a 12-game schedule.

“If we are advised that it is OK to play the (football) season, we should all expect that there will be such disruptions,” Bowlsby told The Des Moines Register Monday.

Texas interim president Jay Hartzell said Wednesday that the university is exploring the logistics of playing at 25% capacity. TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati told The Forth Worth Star-Telegram Wednesday the school is modeling different options, including 50% capacity, admitting it seems unlikely the team’s stadium will be half full. 

Nick Saban of the Alabama Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide leads his team on the field prior to the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan Hare Stadium on Nov. 25, 2017 in Auburn, Alabama. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images