Wisconsin pauses football, cancels Nebraska game due to coronavirus spike

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Wisconsin won't play game vs. Nebraska due to COVID-19 spike originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Just one week into the Big Ten college football season, the conference is now feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Wisconsin announced that it would be pausing all football-related activities for seven days due to an "elevated number of COVID-19 cases within the Badgers' program," the program said in a statement.

Wisconsin's game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday, October 31, will not be played.

The Badgers, ranked No. 9 in the country, played their first game of the shortened season on Friday, October 23, defeating Illinois 45-7. Shortly after the win, the team began dealing with a coronavirus outbreak.

The program has experienced 12 positive COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, according to the release. That includes six student-athletes and six staff members. 

"We have said from the beginning that the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members comes first," 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."

Notably, starting quarterback Graham Mertz was one of the first players to test positive following Friday's contest. Per the Big Ten's protocol, all players who test positive must enter a 21-day quarantine period before they can be eligible to play again, meaning Mertz and others could miss future games.

Head coach Paul Chryst has also tested positive for the coronavirus.

"This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday. 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," Chryst said. "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 contest is November 7 against Purdue. As for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers will get an extra week off before taking on Northwestern.