Players’ safety top concern for football game at Wrigley

Andrew Baker

The Big Ten has announced a series of rule changes for this Saturday’s Illinois-Northwestern football game at Wrigley Field to accommodate the venue’s limited playing space.

Whichever team is on offense will play towards the west end zone, and all kickoffs will be kicked toward the east end zone. This is due to concerns about a padded brick wall directly behind the east end zone, according to multiple reports.

The ball will be repositioned after every change of possession so that the offensive team is heading west.

Both benches will be set up on the north sideline and the teams will trade benches at halftime.

“Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes,” conference commissioner James E. Delany said in a release.

 As noted by the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller, Wrigley Field has not hosted a college football game since 1938, when DePaul took on St. Louis.

 The Illini (5-5) are coming off a 38-34 home loss to the Gophers (2-9) and fighting for bowl eligibility against the Wildcats (7-3), who will try to cope with the absence of quarterback Dan Persa, who injured his Achillles tendon while celebrating a touchdown in his team’s upset victory over Iowa on Saturday.