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Which college football conferences are still planning to play games this fall?

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 22:33:51-04

It's been a difficult couple of weeks for college football fans.

With each day seemingly comes another announcement of a team or conference postponing or canceling its 2020 fall schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. There is a beacon of light for those needing their college football fix this fall, though: the NAIA.

While the governing body pushed the national football playoffs to the spring of 2021, the majority of conferences are still planning to play their schedules this fall, including the Frontier Conference with its five Montana teams. The Frontier won't be alone on the gridiron, as only three NAIA conferences have so far announced plans to move football to the spring. And two of those are making only partial adjustments.

(UPDATE: The Frontier Conference announced Thursday it is postponing its football season to the spring.)

Only the Mid-States Football Association, which includes teams in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri, has altogether postponed its 2020 football schedule. The Sooner Athletic Conference, based in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, has announced it intends to split its conference schedule with teams playing three conference games in the fall and six in the spring. The Mid-South Conference is split into the Appalachian, Bluegrass and Sun divisions. While the Appalachian and Bluegrass divisions have decided against playing this fall, the Sun Division, which features teams in Florida, is still a go.

The outlook isn't nearly as optimistic at the other levels, though. The National Junior College Athletic Association announced the postponement of its fall football season in July, and the NCAA left each division responsible for its own decisions. The entire NCAA Division III football season appears to be postponed with every conference canceling its fall schedule. The NCAA Division II still has four conferences aiming to play this fall, though their start dates have been delayed and more discussions and announcements are expected by the end of the week. As of Aug. 12, though, the Great American Conference, Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Mountain East Conference and Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference are all still on the fall 2020 schedule. (UPDATE: The Mountain East and Northern Sun conferences announced Thursday the suspension of their fall sports seasons, and the Great American Conference and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced Friday the suspensions of their fall sports. No NCAA Division II conferences are scheduled to play college football this fall.)

The dominoes have certainly started to fall for the FCS, which includes Montana, Montana State and perennial power North Dakota State. None of those teams will be playing conference games this fall, as the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference, two of the highest-profile leagues at the level, have postponed their schedules. As of now, the Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland conferences are the only FCS leagues intending to play this fall. (UPDATE: Both the Southern and Southland conferences have postponed fall sports competition, though both leagues are still permitting teams to play non-conference football games. The Ohio Valley Conference became the final FCS league to postpone its fall football season, announcing that decision on Friday.)

The FBS level hasn't proven immune to the virus, either. The Mid-American Conference was the first major football conference to announce its postponement, and the Mountain West, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences followed suit soon after. All eyes now seem to be on the Big 12 Conference, which is seen by many as the swing vote among the Power 5 conferences. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Southeastern Conference (SEC) have remained steadfast in their desire to play this fall, but if the Big 12 cancels there could be a ripple effect that extends across multiple leagues. On Wednesday, the Big 12 reiterated its plan to play this fall, releasing its revised conference schedule.

A list of the college football conferences still planning to play games this fall is below.

(Note: This list does not include independent programs or teams still planning to play non-conference games. This list, which will be updated as necessary, includes only conferences that have announced plans to play their conference schedules this fall.)

FBS

American Athletic Conference (AAC)
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) -- Notre Dame will also play a 10-game ACC schedule and be eligible for the ACC championship.
Big 12 Conference
Conference USA
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Sun Belt Conference

FCS

None

NCAA Division II

None

NCAA Division III

None

NAIA

Great Plains Athletic Conference
Heart of America Conference
Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference
Mid-South Conference -- Sun Division only
North Star Athletic Association
Sooner Athletic Conference -- Teams will play three conference games in the fall and six in the spring.
Sun Conference

Junior college

None