2020 NCAA Division I FBS football season

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2020 NCAA Division I FBS season
Number of teams127[a]
DurationSeptember 3, 2020[1] – December 19, 2020[b]
Preseason AP No. 1Clemson
Post-season
DurationDecember 21, 2020 – January 11, 2021
Bowl games26[c]
AP Poll No. 1Alabama
Coaches Poll No. 1Alabama
Heisman TrophyDeVonta Smith, Wide receiver, Alabama
College Football Playoff
2021 College Football Playoff National Championship
SiteHard Rock Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
Champion(s)Alabama
NCAA Division I FBS football seasons
← 2019
2021 →

The 2020 NCAA Division I FBS football season was the 151st season of college football games in the United States. Organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at its highest level of competition, the Football Bowl Subdivision it began on September 3, 2020.

The season was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States; all of the Power Five conferences initially announced plans to play a fall football season beginning on August 29, but greatly reducing non-conference games to reduce the extent of interstate travel. The ACC, Big 12, and SEC, as well as several other Group of Five conferences, began their seasons in September (though with some conferences delaying their start, and all "Week 0" kickoff games were scratched due to the aforementioned restrictions on non-conference play), while independent Notre Dame agreed to play a full conference schedule with the ACC.

In August, the Big Ten, Pac-12, MAC, Mountain West, and several independents announced that they would delay their football seasons indefinitely due to concerns regarding the pandemic, targeting the possibility of playing in the spring of 2021 instead. By late September, however, the four conferences had reversed their decisions and announced plans to play shortened seasons.

Aside from all-star games, the postseason concluded on January 11, 2021, with the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida; this was the seventh season of the College Football Playoff championship system. Some postseason activities, including the final CFP rankings and the Heisman Trophy nominations, were delayed in order to provide flexibility for conferences to finish delayed seasons in mid-December. A number of bowl games were canceled due to recommendations by local health officials, or because they were unable to secure teams after multiple programs opted out of bowl games due to COVID-19 concerns. Additionally due to COVID-19, the Rose Bowl was played outside of Pasadena, California for the first time since 1942, while the New Mexico Bowl was played in Texas.

Conference realignment[edit]

Membership changes[edit]

School Former conference New conference Notes
UConn Huskies American Athletic Conference Independent UConn canceled their 2020 season
Notre Dame Fighting Irish Independent Atlantic Coast Conference Conference member for 2020 only[2]

Rule changes[edit]

The following playing rule changes were approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel for 2020:[3]

  • Players ejected for targeting will now be considered "disqualified" and be permitted to remain in the bench area instead of returning to the locker room. Players ejected for other reasons (two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, fighting, contact with officials, etc.) will continue to return to the locker room.
  • Restricting the number of players on a team wearing the same uniform number to two; such players still cannot be on the field at the same time and must play different positions.
  • Including the number "0" as a legal uniform number.
  • Extending the official's jurisdiction prior to kickoff from 60 to 90 minutes, requiring a coach from each team be on the field during warm-ups, and identifying each player by number.
  • Defensive teams are allowed to briefly have twelve players on the field to anticipate the offensive formation, however having twelve (or more) players on the field at the snap is a live-ball five-yard penalty for illegal substitution. Previously this foul was a dead-ball foul, called if the defense had twelve (or more) players on the field for at least three seconds.
  • Adopting as a guideline a maximum of 2 minutes for instant replay reviews. Exceptions will be allowed in "exceptionally complicated" or end-of-game situations.
  • On personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties committed by the defense during a play that results in a touchdown or after a touchdown but before the try, the offense has the option to enforce the penalty on the try, the ensuing kickoff, or on the succeeding spot (if in overtime).
  • If the game clock expires at the end of a half, replay determines that time was remaining, and the game situation calls for the clock to start on the referee's signal, the half ends unless the replay determines that the clock should have stopped with 3 or more seconds left.

Other headlines[edit]

  • February 18 – The NCAA announced that it was considering a proposal that would allow student-athletes in all sports a one-time waiver to transfer to a new school without having to sit out a season. This would place all NCAA sports under the same transfer rules; currently, first-time transfers are only required to sit out a season in baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, and men's ice hockey. The existing criteria for the waiver would be extended to these five sports—namely, a player must receive a transfer release from his or her previous school, leave that school academically eligible, maintain academic progress at the new school, and not be under any disciplinary suspension.[4]
  • February 20 – Pitt's football program has been placed on three years' probation as part of a series of violations announced by the Division I Committee on Infractions, which also included violations from their men's basketball team and former head coach Kevin Stallings. The football infractions result from a scheme where non-coaching "quality control" staffers performed coaching duties. If people from outside the football program were present at practice, music would be played to alert the staffers to their presence so they could leave. Pat Narduzzi was present at a football practice these three staff members performed coaching duties and was ordered to be held out of practice for two days in August. The school received other sanctions.[5]
  • February 26 – The new LA Bowl was announced on February 26, matching the Mountain West's No. 1 team against the Pac-12's No. 5. Beginning in December, the game will be held at SoFi Stadium, the new 70,240-seat home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams in Inglewood, California. The LA Bowl is locked in at SoFi from 2020 to 2025.[6]
  • December 3 – The Knight Commission, a non-NCAA group backing college athletics reform whose membership includes many university presidents and former athletic directors, recommended that FBS football be separated from the NCAA, with FBS programs becoming part of a new body that would take over all roles that the NCAA now assumes with respect to that sport. All other sports at FBS schools would remain under NCAA governance, and the NCAA would continue to govern all lower levels of football, including FCS.[7]

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

Season preparations[edit]

Multiple universities and conferences had already canceled their spring football games as part of the wider, nationwide suspension of organized sports and athletics due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. On March 13, the NCAA announced a suspension of all Division I on-campus and off-campus recruiting until April 15.[8] In regards to its impact on the regular season, NCAA president Mark Emmert stated on May 8 that individual decisions on fall semester sports would likely begin to appear as early as June or around July 4. He suggested that the operation of athletics programs would depend on students being present on-campus to a degree (but not necessarily "up and running in the full normal model"), explaining that "you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students", but that "this is going to be a very unusual school year, and we just have to make the best of it".[9]

The NCAA Division I Council prohibited on-campus activities through May 31; on May 20, the Council voted to end the moratorium and allow voluntary on-campus activity in football and basketball to begin June 1, subject to new safety protocols.[10] On June 17, the Division I Council approved a timetable for a season assumed to begin September 5, including beginning non-voluntary training activities on July 13.[11]

On June 24, USA Today reported that at least 37 FBS schools had reported positive cases of COVID-19 among student-athletes or staff since practices resumed. Amidst a spike in cases in the Southern U.S. since late-June, several state governors, including Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Georgia's Brian Kemp, and South Carolina's Henry McMaster, have warned that football season could be threatened if cases do not subside in time.[12][13]

On July 13, it was announced that the Patriot League would not be participating in a football season this year, however, the United States Military Academy as well as the Naval Academy were not included in the settlement as their school superintendent was in charge of making decisions regarding whether their athletic programs would have their seasons.[14]

On July 16, the NCAA released a series of recommendations regarding protocols for fall sports, including that all participants in "high contact risk sports" be tested with results within 72 hours of play. President Emmert noted, however, that the guidelines presumed that the infection rate would be "manageable", and that "If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic."[15] The American Athletic Conference announced the same day that it will adhere to this protocol; commissioner Mike Aresco stated that "with the proper quarantine and the proper canvassing of close contacts, we think at this point it would be safe to play games."[16] On July 18, the SEC announced that it would still honor scholarships for players who opt out of the fall season due to safety concerns.[17]

On July 28, by request of the Football Oversight Committee, the NCAA announced that it had issued a blanket waiver to allow any team to play in "Week 0", in order to allow for greater scheduling flexibility amid changing conditions.[18]

On August 12, members of the NCAA Division I council met and discussed eligibility for student-athletes. They recommended to the Division I board that athletes should be granted an extension on their 5-year eligibility due to the pandemic.[14]

In the event that conditions would not improve by the traditional timeframe of football season, the possibility of delaying the football season entirely to spring 2021 was suggested by several coaches. However, it was largely considered by them to be a last resort. Aresco commented that such a delay would likely require practices to be held over the winter indoors—environments that have been shown to exacerbate spread of COVID-19.[19]

Conference responses[edit]

All of the Power Five conferences initially announced that they would go on with their season as scheduled, but with cuts to non-conference games in order to overcome logistical concerns and reduce interstate travel. The Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC were all limiting play to in-conference opponents only.[19][20][21] The ACC and Big 12 would allow one non-conference game each, with the ACC restricting them to in-state opponents.[22] The ACC also suspended the use of divisions, with the top two teams in conference play by winning percentage advancing to the ACC Championship Game.[2]

The restrictions complicated matters for FBS independents; the first four games of the BYU Cougars were all against Big Ten and Pac-12 teams,[19] while Notre Dame lost three of its marquee games of the season—including one against Wisconsin that was to be played at Lambeau Field, and traditional rivalry games against Stanford (not held for the first time since 1996) and USC (postponed for the first time since 1945 due to World War II).[19] Notre Dame and Navy had also canceled a planned international game in Dublin, Ireland, and tentatively rescheduled it for Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.[23] Some FCS conferences (such as the Patriot League)[24] have canceled or postponed the football season outright, affecting games against FBS opponents.[19]

On July 29, the ACC announced that Notre Dame (which is an ACC member in all other sports outside of football and men's ice hockey, the latter a sport not sponsored by the ACC) would participate as a member of the conference for the 2020 season, being incorporated into its scheduling model (including 10 games against ACC opponents, expanding from six already scheduled) and being eligible to compete for the conference championship. Notre Dame pooled its media rights revenue from NBC with that of the ACC's other media rights, and was eligible to receive a share of the total revenue.[2]

Among the Group of Five conferences, Conference USA announced on August 7 that it had approved an eight-game schedule with up to four non-conference games.[25][26] The next day, however, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced the postponement of all fall sports for the 2020 season, including football. The conference stated that it would pursue attempts to play in spring 2021. With this decision, the MAC became the first FBS conference to cancel or postpone the football season. Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher stated that "there are simply too many unknowns to put our student-athletes into situations that are not clearly understood." The cancellation of non-conference games by the Power Five conferences—especially the Big Ten—was also expected to have a financial impact on its schools, with the Big Ten games alone expected to bring $11 million.[27][28]

In the wake of the decision, ESPN reported on August 9 that the commissioners of the Power Five conferences had held an emergency meeting to discuss possible options for fall sports, amid the worsening state of the pandemic in the United States.[29] On August 10, the Mountain West Conference (MWC) followed the MAC as the second Group of Five conference to postpone fall sports indefinitely.[30] Despite the postponement, Air Force will still contest the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy games against Navy and Army.[31]

On August 11, the Big Ten became the first Power Five conference to postpone fall sports, followed shortly thereafter by the Pac-12. The Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big Ten disclosed an intent to attempt non-conference play in the fall, although the logistical aspects of such a move (including scheduling) and possible repercussions within the conference were unknown.[32][33] Commissioner Kevin Warren confirmed that Nebraska could not do so as a member of the Big Ten.[34] A major factor in the Big Ten's decision was cardiovascular complications from the virus,[35] while the Pac-12 cited that rapid testing capabilities would be needed to resume play.[36]

Following the decisions, the ACC, Big 12, and SEC all issued statements affirming their intent to play as scheduled in the fall.[37][38] The Big Ten's decision became politicized, with President Donald Trump having criticized closures of university campuses, and having pushed in particular for the Big Ten to play in the fall.[39][40] After the decision to postpone the season, the Big Ten formed a taskforce to investigate options for a return to play.[35]

On September 16, the Big Ten approved an eight-game conference season that would begin October 24, and conclude on December 19 with cross-division matchups between each seed (with the game between the top seeds played as the Big Ten Championship Game). The conference is instituting a daily antigen testing protocol beginning September 30; PCR tests will be used to confirm positives found via antigen testing. Players who test positive on both tests will be removed from play for at least 21 days and undergo cardiac tests during this period, and will have to be cleared by a cardiologist before they can return to play. Positivity rates among participating teams and the local population will also be a factor: teams with a positivity rate above 5% or a population positivity rate above 7% will be required to halt all activity for seven days.[35]

In response to the Big Ten's reversal, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott stated that the conference was awaiting authorization by health officials in California and Oregon to resume full-contact practices, and that it was also monitoring the air quality impact of ongoing wildfires in the western United States. The conference secured a provider for rapid testing earlier in the month.[36] On September 24, the Pac-12 officially announced that it would allow football, basketball, and winter sports seasons to resume, with plans to play a seven-game conference season beginning on November 6, and concluding with the Pac-12 Championship Game on December 18.[41]

The same day, the Mountain West announced that it too had approved an eight-game conference season beginning October 24.[42] The next day, the MAC unanimously approved a six-game season beginning in November.[43]

On November 19, the Pac-12 lifted a restriction on non-conference home games.[44]

Impact on the postseason[edit]

On July 15, the Rose Parade was canceled due to the pandemic.[45] The same day, the NCAA announced that FBS teams would be permitted to count two wins against FCS teams, instead of the usual one, towards bowl eligibility.[46] The NCAA later waived bowl eligibility requirements for the 2020–21 bowl season.[47]

On August 5, the College Football Playoff (CFP) announced that it would delay the announcement of its final rankings and matchups for the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl from December 6 to December 20, in order to accommodate conferences that had delayed their championship games to mid-December.[48] The CFP announced that it would still go on as scheduled, with only the teams playing in the fall being eligible for consideration in its rankings.[49]

The voting deadline for the Heisman Trophy was similarly pushed back to December 21, with the presentation likewise scheduled for January 5, 2021. On November 14, the in-person presentation was canceled (its previous site, the PlayStation Theater in New York City, had also closed at the beginning of the year).[50] The presentation was moved to ESPN's studio in Bristol, Connecticut, scheduled as a television-only event with finalists and past winners appearing via remote interviews.[51]

Several bowl games were canceled due to the pandemic, while others, including the Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl, were restricted to being played behind closed doors without fans due to local health orders.[52] On December 19, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association announced that the Rose Bowl would be re-located to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (typically the host of the Cotton Bowl Classic), citing rising cases in the state of California, and state health officials denying a request to allow at least the family members of players to attend.[53] The Tournament of Roses Association stated that it was unclear whether they will still be allowed to refer to the game as the "Rose Bowl", as doing so will require permission from the city of Pasadena under their Master License Agreement.[54]

Player responses[edit]

Several players from the Pac-12 announced a unity group titled #WeAreUnited to negotiate with the conference and league with specific demands in regards to the 2020 football season.[55][56] Including some players willing to boycott if their ultimatum was not satisfied.[57] Players from the Big Ten, created a similar unity which calls for increase in testing and safety protocols.[58]

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence sparked a trend on Twitter with the hashtag, #WeWantToPlay, on August 9.[59][60] Other players such as Justin Fields (Ohio State), Najee Harris (Alabama), and Chuba Hubbard (Oklahoma State), help contribute to make the hashtag No. 1 in the United States on Twitter.[59] President Donald Trump shared Lawrence's tweet, stating "The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled." as well using the #WeWantToPlay hashtag.[61][62] Later #WeAreUnited and #WeWantToPlay merged with players across the Power 5, with the goal of creating a union.[63][64] Nick Saban joins other coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Ryan Day, by joining the movement, by stating players will be safer from the virus together as a team than at home.[65][66]

Eight Nebraska players sued the Big Ten in late-August 2020, claiming that the conference's council did not actually vote on postponing the football season.[67]

Teams opting out[edit]

  • The newly independent UConn Huskies announced that they would opt out of the 2020 season.[68][69]
  • The Old Dominion Monarchs of Conference USA announced that they would opt out of the 2020 season.[70][71]
  • Independent New Mexico State Aggies announced that they would opt out of playing fall football and try to play in spring 2021.[72]
  • Independent UMass Minutemen initially announced that they would opt of playing fall football and hoped to construct a season in spring 2021,[73] but the university reversed the decision in late September and announced its intention to play beginning in mid-October.[74]

Attendance restrictions[edit]

Some teams announced that they tentatively planned to allow spectators at their games at a percentage of normal capacity, such as the Texas Longhorns (Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium was already to have slightly reduced capacity this season due to renovations)[75] and the North Carolina Tar Heels.[76] All events held in the state of New York,[77] as well as all Big Ten and Pac-12 games, were played behind closed doors. The Big Ten and Pac-12 bans applied even if spectators were otherwise allowed under local health orders.[78][79][80][81][82]

The Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen's home games were closed to the public, with attendance limited to their cadets and midshipmen respectively. On October 23, it was announced that the Army–Navy Game would be re-located from Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field to Michie Stadium—the Black Knights' home stadium at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point—citing Pennsylvania state restrictions on gatherings that would prevent the cadets and midshipmen from attending. As with their home games, attendance was limited to the academies' student bodies. It marked the first Army–Navy Game not played at a neutral site since 1943.[83][84]

Postponed or canceled games[edit]

Week Game[85] Make-up Notes
Date Week
Week 1 Louisiana-Monroe at Troy December 17, 2020 Week 14
Jacksonville State at FIU October 23, 2020 Week 8
Rice at Houston Canceled
Week 2 Tulsa at Oklahoma State September 19, 2020 Week 3
North Carolina State at Virginia Tech September 26, 2020 Week 4
SMU at TCU Canceled
FIU at No. 21 UCF Canceled
Marshall at East Carolina Canceled
Louisiana Tech at Baylor Canceled
Week 3 Charlotte at North Carolina Canceled
No. 21 BYU at No. 22 Army Canceled
Houston at Memphis December 12, 2020 Week 15
Houston at Baylor Canceled
Florida Atlantic at Georgia Southern December 5, 2020 Week 14
Central Arkansas at Arkansas State October 10, 2020 Week 6
Week 4 No. 7 Notre Dame at Wake Forest Canceled
Georgia State at Charlotte Canceled
Tulsa at Arkansas State Canceled
South Florida at Florida Atlantic Canceled
North Texas at Houston Canceled
Week 5 Rice at Marshall December 5, 2020 Week 14
Troy at South Alabama December 5, 2020 Week 14
Week 6 Florida Atlantic at Southern Miss December 10, 2020 Week 15
UAB at Rice December 12, 2020 Week 15
Week 7 No. 7 Oklahoma State at Baylor December 12, 2020 Week 15
No. 8 Cincinnati at Tulsa Canceled
LSU at No. 10 Florida December 12, 2020 Week 15
Southern Miss at UTEP Canceled
Vanderbilt at Missouri November 28, 2020 Week 15
FIU at Charlotte Canceled
Week 8 New Mexico at Colorado State Canceled
Week 9 No. 19 Marshall at FIU Canceled
No. 9 Wisconsin at Nebraska Canceled
North Texas at UTEP December 11, 2020 Week 15
Week 10 Purdue at No. 10 Wisconsin Canceled
Air Force at Army December 19, 2020 Week 16
Tulsa at Navy December 5, 2020 Week 14
UTSA at Rice Canceled
Charlotte at Middle Tennessee Canceled
Arizona at Utah Canceled
FIU at UTEP Canceled
Louisiana Tech at North Texas December 3, 2020 Week 14
Louisville at Virginia November 14, 2020 Week 11
Washington at California Canceled
Week 11 Air Force at Wyoming Canceled
No. 1 Alabama at LSU December 5, 2020 Week 14
No. 5 Texas A&M at Tennessee December 19, 2020 Week 16
No. 12 Georgia at Missouri December 12, 2020 Week 15
No. 24 Auburn at Mississippi State December 12, 2020 Week 15
Memphis at Navy November 28, 2020 Week 13
Louisiana–Monroe at Arkansas State December 5, 2020 Week 15
No. 3 Ohio State at Maryland Canceled
Rice at Louisiana Tech Canceled
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech December 10, 2020 Week 15
No. 15 Coastal Carolina at Troy December 12, 2020 Week 15
California at Arizona State Canceled As a make-up game, Cal and UCLA were rescheduled to play on November 15 at the Rose Bowl, for the 91st meeting in the California–UCLA football rivalry, not originally scheduled for the shortened Pac-12 season.[86]
Utah at UCLA Canceled
Gardner–Webb at Charlotte Canceled
Week 12 UAB at UTEP Canceled
Ohio at Miami (OH) Canceled
Arizona State at Colorado Canceled
Georgia Tech at No. 12 Miami (FL) December 19, 2020 Week 16
Charlotte at No. 15 Marshall Canceled
Ole Miss at No. 5 Texas A&M Canceled
Louisiana–Monroe at Louisiana Tech Canceled
Wake Forest at Duke Canceled
Utah State at Wyoming Canceled
Central Arkansas at No. 24 Louisiana Canceled
Navy at South Florida Canceled
Houston at SMU Canceled
No. 22 Texas at Kansas Canceled
UNLV at Colorado State Canceled
Michigan State at Maryland Canceled
Washington State at Stanford Canceled
San Jose State at Fresno State Canceled
No. 4 Clemson at Florida State Canceled
Week 13 Utah at Arizona State Canceled Utah and Washington were subsequently scheduled to play on November 28 at Husky Stadium, not originally scheduled for the shortened Pac-12 season.[87]
Washington at Washington State Canceled
Louisiana Tech at FIU Canceled
No. 25 Tulsa at Houston Canceled
Minnesota at No. 16 Wisconsin December 19, 2020 Week 16 Had the makeup game not occurred, this rivalry game would have been canceled for the first time since 1906.
Southern Miss at UAB Canceled
No. 11 Oklahoma at West Virginia Canceled
No. 7 Cincinnati at Temple Canceled
Colorado State at Air Force Canceled
San Diego State at Fresno State Canceled San Diego State and Colorado were subsequently scheduled to play an inter-conference game on November 28 at Folsom Field, not originally scheduled for either team.[88]
Colorado at No. 18 USC Canceled
No. 4 Ohio State at Illinois Canceled
Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee Canceled
Virginia at Florida State Canceled
San Jose State at Boise State Canceled
UTEP at Rice Canceled
Western Kentucky at Charlotte December 6, 2020 Week 14
Week 14 Southern Miss at UTEP Canceled
No. 10 Miami (FL) at Wake Forest Canceled Miami (FL) and Duke were subsequently scheduled to play December 5 at Wallace Wade Stadium, it was not originally scheduled for either team.
Florida State at Duke Canceled
No. 14 Northwestern at Minnesota Canceled
Kent State at Miami (OH) Canceled
Maryland at Michigan Canceled
Boise State at UNLV Canceled
Liberty at No. 18 Coastal Carolina Canceled BYU, ranked No. 13 in this week's CFP rankings, took Liberty's place as Coastal Carolina's opponent.
Houston at SMU Canceled
Vanderbilt at No. 8 Georgia December 19, 2020 Week 16
FIU at Charlotte Canceled The Western Kentucky at Charlotte game originally scheduled for last week but canceled due to COVID-19 was rescheduled for Sunday of this week.
Buffalo at Ohio Canceled
UAB at Middle Tennessee Canceled
Week 15 No. 8 Cincinnati at No. 24 Tulsa Canceled
Ole Miss at No. 5 Texas A&M Canceled
Michigan at No. 4 Ohio State Canceled The Michigan–Ohio State rivalry game was not played for the first time since 1917.
Ohio at Kent State Canceled
Charlotte at Marshall Canceled
Purdue at No. 12 Indiana Canceled
No. 11 Oklahoma at West Virginia Canceled
Texas at Kansas Canceled
Miami (OH) at Bowling Green Canceled
Incarnate Word at Arkansas State Canceled
Washington at Oregon Canceled
Utah State at Colorado State Canceled This is the only game on this list not scrapped due to COVID-19. Instead, this ensued when the USU team would not travel to Fort Collins in protest of racially insensitive conditions on campus and on the football team.[89]
California at Washington State Canceled
Week 16 Georgia Tech at No. 18 Miami (FL) Canceled
Arizona at California Canceled
Louisiana-Monroe at Troy Canceled
Vanderbilt at No. 8 Georgia Canceled
Oregon at Colorado Canceled Oregon took Washington's place as USC's opponent in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Purdue at No. 11 Indiana Canceled The Old Oaken Bucket game was not played for the first time since 1919.
Michigan at No. 16 Iowa Canceled
Michigan State at Maryland Canceled
No. 19 Louisiana at No. 12 Coastal Carolina Canceled This game, the Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game, was the only conference championship game to be canceled. The Sun Belt announced that both schools would be co-champions.
Florida State at Wake Forest Canceled

Stadiums[edit]

Upcoming[edit]

Renamed[edit]

Kickoff games[edit]

All kickoff games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Week Zero"[edit]

The regular season was scheduled to begin on August 29 with various "Week 0" games, but all were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were two especially notable Week Zero games:

Originally, Marshall was set to play at East Carolina, to honor the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 from the Marshall University football team. The crash occurred as the Thundering Herd were returning from a game at East Carolina.[94]

Additionally, the Emerald Isle Classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland was scheduled to occur during Week 0, featuring Navy versus Notre Dame. However, on June 2, 2020, the game was moved from Dublin to Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.[95] Eventually, the game was canceled altogether. The game would have been be the first in the history of the Navy–Notre Dame football rivalry to be played at Navy's home stadium. The series will resume in 2021.

Week 1[edit]

The majority of FBS teams were scheduled to open the season on Labor Day weekend. However, most conferences delayed the start of their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the ACC and Big 12 conferences are scheduled to begin play the weekend of September 12, while the SEC conference will begin conference-only play the weekend of September 26.[2][21]

Four neutral-site "kickoff" games were scheduled to be held but were also canceled.

Week 2[edit]

Regular season Top 10 matchups[edit]

Rankings reflect the AP Poll. Rankings for Week 13 and beyond listed College Football Playoff Rankings first and AP Poll second. Teams that failed to be a top 10 team for one poll or the other will be noted.

Upsets[edit]

This section lists instances of unranked teams defeating ranked teams during the season.

Regular season[edit]

During the regular season, 33 unranked teams defeated a ranked team. The highest-ranked teams that lost to an unranked opponent were No. 3 Oklahoma in week 4 and No. 5 North Carolina in week 7. Rankings are based on the AP Poll at the time the game was played.

Unranked teams who defeated ranked teams
Week Winning Team Losing Team
Week 2 Louisiana 31 No. 23 Iowa State 14
Week 3 Marshall 17 No. 23 Appalachian State 7
Week 4 Kansas State 38 No. 3 Oklahoma 35
Mississippi State 44 No. 6 LSU 34
Week 5 TCU 33 No. 9 Texas 31
Tulsa 34 No. 11 UCF 26
Arkansas 21 No. 16 Mississippi State 14
Iowa State 37 No. 18 Oklahoma 30
NC State 30 No. 24 Pittsburgh 29
SMU 30 No. 25 Memphis 27
Week 6 Missouri 45 No. 17 LSU 41
Oklahoma (4OT) 53 No. 22 Texas 45
Week 7 Florida State 31 No. 5 North Carolina 28
South Carolina 30 No. 15 Auburn 22
Kentucky 34 No. 18 Tennessee 7
Coastal Carolina 30 No. 21 Louisiana 27
Week 8 Indiana (OT) 36 No. 8 Penn State 35
Wake Forest 23 No. 19 Virginia Tech 16
Week 9 Texas (OT) 41 No. 6 Oklahoma State 34
Michigan State 27 No. 13 Michigan 24
Virginia 44 No. 15 North Carolina 41
West Virginia 37 No. 16 Kansas State 10
Week 11 Tulsa 28 No. 19 SMU 24
Week 12 NC State 15 No. 21 Liberty 14
Week 13 Michigan State 29 No. 8 Northwestern 20
Oregon State 41 No. 15 Oregon 38
Week 14 TCU 29 No. 15 Oklahoma State 22
Rice 20 No. 21 Marshall 0
Stanford 31 No. 22 Washington 26
California 21 No. 23 Oregon 17
Week 15 LSU 37 No. 6 Florida 34
Utah 38 No. 21 Colorado 21
Week 16 Oregon 31 No. 13 USC 24

Bowl games[edit]

During the bowl season, five unranked teams defeated a ranked team. Rankings in this section are based on the final CFP rankings released on December 20.

Unranked teams who defeated ranked teams
Bowl Winning Team Losing Team
Cure Bowl Liberty 37 No. 12 Coastal Carolina 34
Armed Forces Bowl Mississippi State 28 No. 24 Tulsa 26
Arizona Bowl Ball State 34 No. 22 San Jose State 16
Gator Bowl Kentucky 23 No. 23 NC State 21
Outback Bowl Ole Miss 26 No. 11 Indiana 20

Conference standings[edit]

2020 American Athletic Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 8 Cincinnati y$   6 0         9 1  
Tulsa y   6 0         6 3  
Memphis   5 3         8 3  
UCF   5 3         6 4  
SMU   4 3         7 3  
Houston   3 3         3 5  
Navy   3 4         3 7  
Tulane   3 5         6 6  
East Carolina   3 5         3 6  
Temple   1 6         1 6  
South Florida   0 7         1 8  
Championship: Cincinnati 27, Tulsa 24
  • $ – Conference champion
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Atlantic Coast Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 5 Notre Dame y^   9 0         10 2  
No. 3 Clemson y$^   8 1         10 2  
No. 22 Miami (FL)   7 2         8 3  
No. 18 North Carolina   7 3         8 4  
NC State   7 3         8 4  
Boston College   5 5         6 5  
Pittsburgh   5 5         6 5  
Virginia Tech   5 5         5 6  
Virginia   4 5         5 5  
Wake Forest   3 4         4 5  
Georgia Tech   3 6         3 7  
Louisville   3 7         4 7  
Florida State   2 6         3 6  
Duke   1 9         2 9  
Syracuse   1 9         1 10  
Championship: Clemson 34, Notre Dame 10
  • ^ – College Football Playoff participant
  • $ – Conference champion
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Big 12 Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 9 Iowa State y   8 1         9 3  
No. 6 Oklahoma y$   6 2         9 2  
No. 20 Oklahoma State   6 3         8 3  
No. 19 Texas   5 3         7 3  
TCU   5 4         6 4  
West Virginia   4 4         6 4  
Kansas State   4 5         4 6  
Texas Tech   3 6         4 6  
Baylor   2 7         2 7  
Kansas   0 8         0 9  
Championship: Oklahoma 27, Iowa State 21
  • $ – Conference champion
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Big Ten Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
No. 2 Ohio State xy$^   5 0         7 1  
No. 12 Indiana   6 1         6 2  
Penn State   4 5         4 5  
Maryland   2 3         2 3  
Rutgers   3 6         3 6  
Michigan   2 4         2 4  
Michigan State   2 5         2 5  
West Division
No. 10 Northwestern xy   6 1         7 2  
No. 16 Iowa   6 2         6 2  
Wisconsin   3 3         4 3  
Minnesota   3 4         3 4  
Nebraska   3 5         3 5  
Purdue   2 4         2 4  
Illinois   2 6         2 6  
Championship: Ohio State 22, Northwestern 10
  • ^ – College Football Playoff participant
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
  • Note: Due to COVID-19, the Big Ten suspended the season on August 11, but later decided to begin play on October 24. In addition to the title game that was played on December 19, the conference seeded all remaining teams for "championship week" games.[96]
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Conference USA football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
Marshall xy   4 1         7 3  
Florida Atlantic   4 2         5 4  
Western Kentucky   4 3         5 7  
Charlotte   2 2         2 4  
Middle Tennessee   2 4         3 6  
FIU   0 3         0 5  
West Division
UAB xy$   3 1         6 3  
UTSA   5 2         7 5  
Louisiana Tech   4 2         5 4  
North Texas   3 4         4 6  
Rice   2 3         2 3  
Southern Miss   2 4         3 7  
UTEP   0 4         3 5  
Championship: UAB 22, Marshall 13
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
  • Note: Due to COVID-19, Old Dominion opted out of the season.
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Mid-American Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
No. 25 Buffalo xy   5 0         6 1  
Kent State   3 1         3 1  
Ohio   2 1         2 1  
Miami (OH)   2 1         2 1  
Akron   1 5         1 5  
Bowling Green   0 5         0 5  
West Division
No. 23 Ball State xy$   5 1         7 1  
Western Michigan   4 2         4 2  
Toledo   4 2         4 2  
Central Michigan   3 3         3 3  
Eastern Michigan   2 4         2 4  
Northern Illinois   0 6         0 6  
Championship: Ball State 38, Buffalo 28
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
  • Note: Due to COVID-19, the Mid-American suspended the season on August 8, but later decided to begin play on November 4.[97]
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Mountain West Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 24 San Jose State y$   7 0         7 1  
Boise State y   5 0         5 2  
Nevada   6 2         7 2  
San Diego State   4 2         4 4  
Hawaii   4 4         5 4  
Fresno State   3 3         3 3  
Air Force   2 2         3 3  
Wyoming   2 4         2 4  
New Mexico   2 5         2 5  
Colorado State   1 3         1 3  
Utah State   1 5         1 5  
UNLV   0 6         0 6  
Championship: San Jose State 34, Boise State 20
  • $ – Conference champion
  • y – Championship game participant
  • Note: Due to COVID-19, the Mountain West suspended the season, but later decided to begin play on October 24.[98]
Rankings from AP Poll
2020 Pac-12 Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
North Division
Washington x   3 1         3 1  
Stanford   4 2         4 2  
Oregon y$   3 2         4 3  
California   1 3         1 3  
Washington State   1 3         1 3  
Oregon State   2 5         2 5  
South Division
No. 21 USC xy   5 0         5 1  
Colorado   3 1         4 2  
Utah   3 2         3 2  
Arizona State   2 2         2 2  
UCLA   3 4         3 4  
Arizona   0 5         0 5  
Championship: Oregon 31, USC 24
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
  • Note: Due to COVID-19, the Pac-12 suspended the season on August 11, but later decided to begin play on November 6. In addition to the title game on December 18, the conference seeded all remaining teams for a game during that weekend.[99]
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
No. 13 Florida x   8 2         8 4  
No. 7 Georgia   7 2         8 2  
Missouri   5 5         5 5  
Kentucky   4 6         5 6  
Tennessee   3 7         3 7  
South Carolina   2 8         2 8  
Vanderbilt   0 9         0 9  
West Division
No. 1 Alabama x$#^   10 0         13 0  
No. 4 Texas A&M   8 1         9 1  
Auburn   6 4         6 5  
LSU*   5 5         5 5  
Ole Miss   4 5         5 5  
Arkansas   3 7         3 7  
Mississippi State   3 7         4 7  
Championship: Alabama 52, Florida 46
  • # – College Football Playoff champion
  • ^ – College Football Playoff participant
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • * – ineligible for postseason due to self imposed ban
    Note: Due to COVID-19, the SEC played a conference-only schedule.
Rankings from AP Poll.
2020 Sun Belt Conference football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
East Division
No. 14 Coastal Carolina xy+   8 0         11 1  
Appalachian State   6 2         9 3  
Georgia Southern   4 4         8 5  
Georgia State   4 4         6 4  
Troy   3 4         5 6  
West Division
No. 15 Louisiana xy+   7 1         10 1  
South Alabama   3 5         4 7  
Arkansas State   2 6         4 7  
Texas State   2 6         2 10  
Louisiana–Monroe   0 7         0 10  
Championship: Louisiana at Coastal Carolina (Canceled)
  • + – Conference co-champions
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
  • y – Championship game participant
Rankings from AP Poll
2020 NCAA Division I FBS independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 11 BYU           11 1  
No. 17 Liberty           10 1  
Army           9 3  
New Mexico State           1 1  
UMass           0 4  
UConn            
  • Note: † Due to COVID-19, UConn canceled the 2020 football season.
Rankings from AP Poll.

Conference summaries[edit]

Conference Championship game Overall Player of the Year/MVP Offensive Player of the Year Defensive Player of the Year Coach of the Year
Champion Score Runner-up
ACC No. 3 Clemson (9–1) CFP 34–10 No. 2 Notre Dame (10–0) CFP Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame Brian Kelly, HC, Notre Dame
American No. 9 Cincinnati (8–0) 27–24 No. 23 Tulsa (6–1) N/A[i] Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa Luke Fickell, HC, Cincinnati
Big Ten No. 4 Ohio State (5–0) CFP 22–10 No. 14 Northwestern (6–1) N/A[i] Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State Daviyon Nixon, DT, Iowa Tom Allen, HC, Indiana
Big 12 No. 10 Oklahoma (11–2) 27–21 No. 6 Iowa State (8–2) N/A[i] Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State Mike Rose, LB, Iowa State Matt Campbell, HC, Iowa State
C–USA UAB (5–3) 22–13 Marshall (7–1) Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas Sincere McCormick, RB, UTSA Tavante Beckett, LB, Marshall Doc Holliday, HC, Marshall
MAC Ball State (5–1) 38–28 Buffalo (5–0) Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo Jaret Patterson, RB, Buffalo Troy Hairston, DL, Central Michigan
Brandon Martin, LB, Ball State
Lance Leipold, HC, Buffalo
MWC No. 24 San Jose State (6–0) 34–20 Boise State (5–1) N/A[i] Carson Strong, QB, Nevada Cade Hall, DL, San Jose State Brent Brennan, HC, San Jose State
Pac-12 Oregon (3–2) 31–24 No. 13 USC (5–0) N/A[i] Jarek Broussard, RB, Colorado Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC Karl Dorrell, HC, Colorado
SEC No. 1 Alabama (10–0) CFP 52–46 No. 7 Florida (8–2) N/A[i] DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama Patrick Surtain II, DB, Alabama Nick Saban, HC, Alabama
Sun Belt No. 12 Coastal Carolina (11–0)
No. 19 Louisiana (9–1)
Canc.[ii] N/A Grayson McCall, QB, Coastal Carolina Jonathan Adams, WR, Arkansas State Tarron Jackson, DL, Coastal Carolina Jamey Chadwell, HC, Coastal Carolina

CFP College Football Playoff participant

  1. ^ a b c d e f Not awarded by this conference.
  2. ^ The Sun Belt Conference championship game was canceled, and both teams were declared co-champions.

Rankings[edit]

The top 25 from the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls.

Pre-season polls[edit]

AP
Ranking Team
1 Clemson (38)
2 Ohio State (21)
3 Alabama (2)
4 Georgia
5 Oklahoma
6 LSU (1)
7 Penn State
8 Florida
9 Oregon
10 Notre Dame
11 Auburn
12 Wisconsin
13 Texas A&M
14 Texas
15 Oklahoma State
16 Michigan
17 USC
18 North Carolina
19 Minnesota
20 Cincinnati
21 UCF
22 Utah
23 Iowa State
24 Iowa
25 Tennessee
USA Today Coaches
Ranking Team
1 Clemson (38)
2 Ohio State (17)
3 Alabama (4)
4 Georgia
5 LSU
6 Oklahoma
7 Penn State
8 Florida
9 Oregon
10 Notre Dame
11 Auburn
12 Wisconsin
13 Texas A&M
14 Texas
15 Michigan
16 Oklahoma State
17 USC
18 Minnesota
19 North Carolina
20 Utah
21 UCF
22 Cincinnati
23 Iowa
24 Virginia Tech
25 Iowa State

CFB Playoff final rankings[edit]

In December 2021, the College Football Playoff selection committee will announce its final team rankings for the year.

Rank Team W–L Conference and standing Bowl game
1 Alabama 11–0 SEC champion Rose Bowl
2 Clemson 10–1 ACC champion Sugar Bowl
3 Ohio State 6–0 Big Ten champion Sugar Bowl
4 Notre Dame 10–1 ACC runner-up Rose Bowl
5 Texas A&M 8–1 SEC West 2nd place Orange Bowl
6 Oklahoma 8–2 Big 12 champion Cotton Bowl
7 Florida 8–3 SEC runner-up Cotton Bowl
8 Cincinnati 9–0 AAC champion Peach Bowl
9 Georgia 7–2 SEC East 2nd place Peach Bowl
10 Iowa State 8–3 Big 12 runner-up Fiesta Bowl
11 Indiana 6–1 Big Ten East 2nd place Outback Bowl
12 Coastal Carolina 11–0 Sun Belt co-champion Cure Bowl
13 North Carolina 8–3 ACC 4th place Orange Bowl
14 Northwestern 6–1 Big Ten runner-up Citrus Bowl
15 Iowa 6–2 Big Ten West 2nd place Music City Bowl
16 BYU 10–1 Independent Boca Raton Bowl
17 USC 5–1 Pac-12 runner-up N/A
18 Miami (FL) 8–2 ACC 3rd place Cheez-It Bowl
19 Louisiana 9–1 Sun Belt co-champions First Responder Bowl
20 Texas 6–3 Big 12 4th place Alamo Bowl
21 Oklahoma State 7–3 Big 12 3rd place Cheez-It Bowl
22 San Jose State 7–0 Mountain West champion Arizona Bowl
23 NC State 8–3 ACC 5th place Gator Bowl
24 Tulsa 6–1 AAC runner-up Armed Forces Bowl
25 Oregon 4–2 Pac-12 champion Fiesta Bowl

Final rankings[edit]

Rank Associated Press Coaches' Poll
1 Alabama (13–0) Alabama (13–0)
2 Ohio State (7–1) Ohio State (7–1)
3 Clemson (10–2) Clemson (10–2)
4 Texas A&M (9–1) Texas A&M (9–1)
5 Notre Dame (10–2) Notre Dame (10–2)
6 Oklahoma (9–2) Oklahoma (9–2)
7 Georgia (8–2) Georgia (8–2)
8 Cincinnati (9–1) Cincinnati (9–1)
9 Iowa State (9–3) Iowa State (9–3)
10 Northwestern (7–2) Northwestern (7–2)
11 BYU (11–1) BYU (11–1)
12 Indiana (6–2) Florida (8–4)
13 Florida (8–4) Indiana (6–2)
14 Coastal Carolina (11–1) Coastal Carolina (11–1)
15 Louisiana (10–1) Iowa (6–2)
16 Iowa (6–2) Louisiana (10–1)
17 Liberty (10–1) North Carolina (8–4)
18 North Carolina (8–4) Liberty (10–1)
19 Texas (7–3) Oklahoma State (8–3)
20 Oklahoma State (8–3) Texas (7–3)
21 USC (5–1) USC (5–1)
22 Miami (FL) (8–3) Miami (FL) (8–3)
23 Ball State (7–1) Ball State (7–1)
24 San Jose State (7–1) San Jose State (7–1)
25 Buffalo (6–1) Buffalo (6–1)

Postseason[edit]

The NCAA waived bowl eligibility requirements for the 2020–21 bowl season, intended "to allow as many student-athletes as possible the opportunity to participate in bowl games this year."[100] On October 30, the postseason lineup of bowl games was announced; 37 bowls were scheduled, including the National Championship game.[101][102] Subsequent cancellations resulted in a schedule of 33 games, as compared to 40 games contested during the prior bowl season. On December 20, after final CFP standings were released, an additional four games were left without teams available to play, leaving the count at 29. On December 22, the Gasparilla Bowl was canceled after the South Carolina team had an increase in COVID-19 cases.[103] On December 27, the Music City Bowl was canceled due to Missouri's high positive COVID-19 numbers.[104] On December 29, the Texas Bowl was canceled, due to TCU's COVID-19 issues.[105]

2019–20 FBS bowl count 40 including the National Championship game
Canceled, prior to team selections −9 Bahamas, Frisco, Hawaii, Holiday, Quick Lane, Redbox, Pinstripe, Sun, Las Vegas
Canceled, due to lack of teams −4 Birmingham, Independence, Guaranteed Rate, Military
Canceled, after team selections −3 Gasparilla Bowl, Music City, Texas
New bowls debuting in 2020 +1 Myrtle Beach Bowl
Debuts postponed to 2021 Fenway Bowl, LA Bowl
Substitute bowl for this season +1 Montgomery Bowl
2020–21 FBS bowl count 26

Awards and honors[edit]

Heisman Trophy[edit]

The Heisman Trophy is given to the year's most outstanding player.

Other overall[edit]

Special overall[edit]

Offense[edit]

Quarterback

Running back

Wide receiver

Tight end

Lineman:

Defense[edit]

Defensive front

Defensive back

Special teams[edit]

Coaches[edit]

Assistants[edit]

All-Americans[edit]

Coaching changes[edit]

Preseason and in-season[edit]

This is restricted to coaching changes taking place on or after May 1, 2020, and will also include any changes announced after a team's last regularly scheduled game but before its bowl game. For coaching changes that occurred earlier in 2020, see 2019 NCAA Division I FBS end-of-season coaching changes.

School Outgoing coach Date Reason Replacement
Southern Miss Jay Hopson September 7, 2020 Resigned Scotty Walden (Interim)
Scotty Walden (Interim) October 27, 2020 Hired by Austin Peay Tim Billings (Interim)
Utah State Gary Andersen November 7, 2020 Resigned Frank Maile (Interim)
South Carolina Will Muschamp November 15, 2020 Fired Mike Bobo (Interim)
Vanderbilt Derek Mason November 29, 2020 Fired Todd Fitch (Interim)
Illinois Lovie Smith December 13, 2020[107] Fired Rod Smith (Interim)
Auburn Gus Malzahn December 13, 2020 Fired Kevin Steele (Interim)

End of season[edit]

This list includes coaching changes announced during the season that did not take effect until the end of the season.

School Outgoing coach Date Reason Replacement
Southern Miss Tim Billings (Interim) December 2, 2020 Permanent replacement Will Hall
South Carolina Mike Bobo (Interim) December 6, 2020 Permanent replacement Shane Beamer
South Alabama Steve Campbell December 6, 2020 Fired Kane Wommack
Louisiana–Monroe Matt Viator December 7, 2020 Fired Terry Bowden
Utah State Frank Maile (Interim) December 10, 2020 Permanent replacement Blake Anderson
Arkansas State Blake Anderson December 10, 2020 Hired by Utah State Butch Jones
Arizona Kevin Sumlin December 12, 2020 Fired Jedd Fisch
Vanderbilt Todd Fitch (Interim) December 14, 2020 Permanent replacement Clark Lea
Illinois Rod Smith (Interim) December 19, 2020 Permanent replacement Bret Bielema
Auburn Kevin Steele (Interim) December 22, 2020 Permanent replacement Bryan Harsin
Boise State Bryan Harsin December 22, 2020 Hired by Auburn Andy Avalos
Texas Tom Herman January 2, 2021 Fired Steve Sarkisian
Marshall Doc Holliday January 4, 2021 Contract not renewed Charles Huff
Tennessee Jeremy Pruitt January 18, 2021 Fired Josh Heupel
UCF Josh Heupel January 27, 2021 Hired by Tennessee Gus Malzahn
Kansas Les Miles March 8, 2021 Mutually agreed to part ways Lance Leipold
Buffalo Lance Leipold April 30, 2021 Hired by Kansas Maurice Linguist

Television viewers and ratings[edit]

Most-watched regular season games[edit]

All times Eastern. Rankings are from the AP Poll (before 11/24) and CFP Rankings (thereafter).

Rank Date Matchup Network Viewers (millions) TV Rating[108] Significance
1 November 7, 7:30 p.m. No. 1 Clemson 40 No. 4 Notre Dame 47 NBC, USA 10.07 5.4 Primetime game
2 October 17, 8:00 p.m. No. 3 Georgia 24 No. 2 Alabama 41 CBS 9.61 5.3 Rivalry
3 November 28, 3:30 p.m. No. 22 Auburn 13 No. 1 Alabama 42 6.66 3.6 Rivalry
4 October 31, 7:30 p.m. No. 3 Ohio State 38 No. 18 Penn State 25 ABC 6.53 3.5 Rivalry/Saturday Night Football
5 November 21, 12:00 p.m. No. 9 Indiana 35 No. 3 Ohio State 42 Fox 6.36 3.7 Big Noon Saturday
6 November 7, 3:30 p.m. No. 8 Florida 44 No. 5 Georgia 28 CBS 6.34 3.5 Rivalry
7 October 24, 12:00 p.m. Nebraska 17 No. 5 Ohio State 52 Fox 6.18 3.4 Big Noon Saturday
8 November 27, 3:30 p.m. No. 2 Notre Dame 31 No. 19 North Carolina 17 ABC 6.07 3.5
9 October 10, 3:30 p.m. No. 14 Tennessee 21 No. 3 Georgia 44 CBS 5.77 3.1 Rivalry
10 November 14, 3:30 p.m. No. 2 Notre Dame 45 Boston College 31 ABC 5.14 3.0 Rivalry

Conference championship games[edit]

All times Eastern. Rankings are from the CFP Rankings.

Rank Date Matchup Network Viewers (millions) TV Rating[109] Conference Location
1 December 19, 4:00 p.m. No. 3 Clemson 34 No. 2 Notre Dame 10 ABC 9.92 5.5 ACC Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
2 December 19, 8:00 p.m. No. 1 Alabama 52 No. 7 Florida 46 CBS 8.92 4.9 SEC Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
3 December 19, 12:00 p.m. No. 14 Northwestern 10 No. 4 Ohio State 22 FOX 8.03 4.6 Big Ten Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
4 December 18, 8:00 p.m. Oregon 31 No. 13 USC 24 3.85 2.2 Pac-12 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
5 December 19, 12:00 p.m. No. 10 Oklahoma 27 No. 6 Iowa State 21 ABC 2.99 1.8 Big 12 AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
6 December 19, 8:00 p.m. No. 23 Tulsa 24 No. 9 Cincinnati 27 1.88 1.1 American Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
7 December 19, 4:15 p.m. Boise State 20 No. 24 San Jose State 34 FOX 1.42 0.9 MW Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, NV
8 December 18, 7:30 p.m. Ball State 38 No. 23 Buffalo 28 ESPN 0.875 0.4 MAC Ford Field, Detroit, MI
9 December 18, 7:00 p.m. UAB 22 Marshall 13 CBSSN n.a. n.a. C-USA Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV

#Rankings are from the CFP Rankings.

Most watched non-CFP bowl games[edit]

Rank Date Matchup Network Viewers (millions) TV Rating[110] Game Location
1 January 1, 2021, 12:00 p.m. No. 9 Georgia 24 No. 8 Cincinnati 21 ESPN 8.7 4.9 Peach Bowl Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
2 January 2, 2021, 8:00 p.m. No. 13 North Carolina 27 No. 5 Texas A&M 41 7.6 4.3 Orange Bowl Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
3 January 2, 2021, 4:00 p.m. No. 25 Oregon 17 No. 10 Iowa State 34 6.7 3.8 Fiesta Bowl State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
4 December 30, 2020, 8:00 p.m. No. 7 Florida 20 No. 6 Oklahoma 55 5.8 3.2 Cotton Bowl Classic AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
5 January 1, 2021, 1:00 p.m. Auburn 19 No. 14 Northwestern 35 ABC 4.8 2.8 Citrus Bowl Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
6 January 2, 2021, 12:30 p.m. Ole Miss 26 No. 11 Indiana 20 4.1 2.5 Outback Bowl Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
7 December 31, 2020, 4:00 p.m. West Virginia 24 Army 21 ESPN 3.7 2.2 Liberty Bowl Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
8 December 29, 2020, 5:30 p.m. No. 21 Oklahoma State 37 No. 18 Miami (FL) 34 3.2 1.8 Cheez-It Bowl Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
9 December 29, 2020, 9:00 p.m. No. 20 Texas 55 Colorado 23 3.0 1.7 Alamo Bowl Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
10 January 2, 2021, 12:00 p.m. No. 23 NC State 21 Kentucky 23 2.7 1.7 Gator Bowl TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL

College Football Playoff[edit]

Game Date Matchup Network Viewers (millions) TV Rating[110] Location
Rose Bowl (semifinal) January 1, 2021, 4:30 p.m. No. 4 Notre Dame 14 No. 1 Alabama 31 ESPN 18.9 9.6 AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Sugar Bowl (semifinal) January 1, 2021, 8:00 p.m. No. 3 Ohio State 49 No. 2 Clemson 28 19.1 9.8 Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
National Championship January 11, 2021, 8:00 p.m. No. 3 Ohio State 24 No. 1 Alabama 52 18.65 5.05 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Of the 130 FBS programs: UConn, Old Dominion, and New Mexico State canceled their 2020 seasons due to COVID-19 concerns. New Mexico State later scheduled some games for the spring of 2021 against programs at other levels.
  2. ^ End date does not include non-FBS games scheduled by New Mexico State for the spring of 2021.
  3. ^ Bowl count includes the National Championship game.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The college football fan's guide to Week 1 games". NCAA.com. September 4, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "ACC sets 11-game slate, includes Notre Dame". ESPN.com. July 30, 2020. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "Football players flagged for targeting will be able to remain in bench area" (Press release). NCAA. April 21, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  4. ^ West, Jenna (February 18, 2020). "NCAA to Consider Letting All Athletes Transfer One Time Without Sitting Out". SI.com. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Pitt basketball, football placed on probation; ex-coach Kevin Stallings dealt show-cause penalty". ESPN.com. February 20, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  6. ^ "LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium added to postseason slate in 2020". ESPN.com. February 26, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  7. ^ Murphy, Dan (December 3, 2020). "Knight Commission endorses FBS split from NCAA". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  8. ^ VanHaaren, Tom (March 13, 2020). "NCAA suspends all recruiting in Division I through April 15". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  9. ^ "Emmert expects no sports without students back". ESPN.com. May 9, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  10. ^ "NCAA: Voluntary campus workouts OK in June". ESPN.com. May 20, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  11. ^ "NCAA Approves Required Football Work to Begin July 13". GenesPage.com. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  12. ^ Myerberg, Paul (June 24, 2020). "Return of college athletes for workouts brings COVID-19 issues that could threaten fall schedule". USA Today. Archived from the original on July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  13. ^ "As coronavirus cases rise, governors warn the college football season could be in danger". Washington Post. July 2, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  14. ^ a b "The coronavirus and college sports: NCAA reopening plans, latest news, program cuts, more". ESPN.com. November 19, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  15. ^ "Emmert: Need better handle on pandemic to play". ESPN.com. July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "AAC to require testing 72 hours before games". ESPN.com. July 16, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  17. ^ "SEC to honor scholarships for athletes opting out". ESPN.com. July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  18. ^ "Reports: NCAA permits teams to schedule 'Week 0' games". AL.com. July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  19. ^ a b c d e "What do Pac-12 and Big Ten decisions mean for college football?". ESPN.com. July 11, 2020. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
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