Wisconsin-Nebraska football game canceled this weekend as Badgers report COVID-19 outbreak

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst among 12 who tested positive

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst talks to players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) (Morry Gash, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Wisconsin vs. Nebraska football game this weekend has been canceled as cases of COVID-19 continue to spread throughout the Badgers program.

COVID-19 has been a hot topic in Madison as star quarterback Graham Mertz had his positive test confirmed on Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, the university announced the team will pause all team activities for at least seven days because of the outbreak. A total of 12 people in the program have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last five days: six players and six staff members, according to Wisconsin.

Head coach Paul Chryst is one of the six staff members who have tested positive.

The Nebraska game will not be rescheduled, and per conference policy, it will be viewed as a “no contest” for both teams.

As part of the decision to reinstate a fall football season, the Big Ten implemented strict COVID-19 protocols that outlined what it would take to cancel games. A team positivity rate above 5% and a population positivity rate above 7.5% are both thresholds that categorize a team as being in the “red” range.

Since Wisconsin apparently entered the red range for both statistics, the seven-day shutdown was triggered.

“We have said from the beginning that the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members comes first,” Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said. “Over the past several days we have seen a rising number of student-athletes and staff contract the virus. The responsible thing for us to do is to pause football-related activities for at least seven days.”

Additional COVID-19 test results are pending, school officials said.

“This morning, I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said. "I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning.

“I am disappointed for our players and coaching staff who put so much into preparing to play each week. But the safety of everyone in our program has to be our top priority and I support the decision made to pause our team activities.”

Wisconsin’s next scheduled game is at home against Purdue on Nov. 7. The Badgers are supposed to travel to Ann Arbor on Nov. 14 to face Michigan.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin reported 5,262 new cases and 64 deaths, bringing the state totals to 206,311 cases and 1,852 deaths. It was a new daily record, but the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin has been worsening for weeks.

Wisconsin-Nebraska is the first Big Ten game to be canceled this year, but with COVID-19 cases continuing to spike around the Midwest, it will certainly be difficult to avoid further interruptions to the shortened season.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.