Northwestern Wildcats-Minnesota Golden Gophers football game canceled due to coronavirus issues

The Northwestern-Minnesota football game set for Saturday in Minneapolis has been canceled because of COVID-19 issues within the Minnesota program.

Minnesota on Monday reported that 47 people -- 21 athletes and 26 staff members -- have tested positive for COVID-19 since Nov. 19. The team canceled last Saturday's game at Wisconsin after pausing activities Nov. 24. Minnesota had nine athletes and five staff members test positive for COVID-19 between Nov. 19 and Nov. 23. That number had increased to 40 -- 20 athletes and 20 staff members -- by this past Saturday.

The team has implemented increased PCR testing to go along with the Big Ten's daily antigen testing. Minnesota, which last played Nov. 20 against Purdue, will conduct meetings virtually for the rest of the season.

"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff continues to be our main priority," Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said in a prepared statement. "The last couple of days have shown a decrease in positive cases, but not to the point where we are able to return to competition. We are disappointed not to be able to compete against Northwestern on Saturday, but we need to continue to focus on following all CDC and MDH guidelines and slow the spread of the virus. We will now shift our priority to doing everything possible to compete at Nebraska on December 12, and our decisions will continue to be guided by our medical experts."

This is the first game cancellation for No. 8 Northwestern, which had a chance to clinch the Big Ten West Division last Saturday but lost 29-20 to Michigan State. The Wildcats will win the division unless the average number of games for each team in the league drops below six. They also can clinch the division by beating Illinois on Dec. 12. Northwestern holds tiebreakers against both No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 24 Iowa.