Gophers football canceled against Northwestern

Minnesota will not play in two consecutive weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases, but still hopes to play in the final week of the season at Nebraska.

Thomas+Barber+and+Coney+Durr+tackle+Purdue+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+10+at+TCF+Bank+Stadium.+The+Gophers+beat+the+Boilermakers+41-10.

Tony Saunders

Thomas Barber and Coney Durr tackle Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 10 at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers beat the Boilermakers 41-10.

Brendan O'Brien, Sports Reporter

After being unable to play its game against Wisconsin last weekend, Minnesota announced its game Dec. 5 against Northwestern will also be canceled due to COVID-19.

The Gophers first paused activities on Nov. 24 as the number of cases began to rise within the program. Fifteen individuals tested positive for COVID-19 within a five-day period from Nov. 19-23. According to the athletics department, Minnesota will conduct all of its meetings virtually for the remainder of the season.

Since the first day of this rise, Minnesota has 47 members of the program who have tested positive. When positive cases popped up earlier in the season, head coach P.J. Fleck did not release names of specific players who tested positive. As of now, however, the University of Minnesota did announce 21 of the positive cases are student-athletes and 26 are staff members.

In what was an already shortened season because of the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesota has only played five games this season and is not guaranteed to play a sixth. The Gophers are scheduled to play at Nebraska on Dec. 12 and the University said it hopes to be able to play the Cornhuskers. That decision will be made based on the advice from medical experts consulting the team and the Big Ten protocols implemented this season.

The cancellation of these two games has had a significant impact on the Gophers’ opponents. Before this, Wisconsin and Northwestern were battling for the Big Ten West division title and a berth in the Big Ten Championship game, with Northwestern holding an advantage having beaten the Badgers head-to-head. Wisconsin still had hopes of winning the division crown, but now those chances have diminished as the Badgers might not play enough games this season to qualify for the championship.