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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With all due respect to last weekend's slate of games, college football started in earnest last night when Miami beat UAB, 31-14, to kick off the Power 5 season.

The state of play... Power 5: ACC and Big 12 begin this weekend; SEC starts on Sept. 26; Big Ten and Pac-12 are postponed until the spring.

  • Group of 5: The American, Sun Belt and C-USA began last week; the MAC and Mountain West are postponed until spring.

The state of play: Just to reiterate a line you've maybe heard once or twice by now — this season's going to be pretty weird.

  • 54 of 130 FBS Division-I teams won't be taking the field this fall.
  • Notre Dame, famously one of the seven FBS Independents, has temporarily joined the ACC.
  • Conference scheduling: Most seasons begin with a handful of non-conference, tune-up games, but nearly every game this year will be played against a conference foe.
  • Testing: Players and coaches will get tested roughly three times a week — far more than the average student, per WSJ's Laine Higgins (subscription) — though some schools are withholding that data, citing student privacy laws.
  • Fans: 33 schools are allowing at least some fans from the get-go; but, as with the NFL, that number could change as the season goes on.

Between the lines: The uncertainty surrounding certain aspects of the season is shocking.

  • For example, the Big 12 is the only conference with actual guidelines on what will cause a game to be postponed (and they're pretty weak). Other leagues seem content to play it by ear.
  • "I have no idea what the requisites are to play or not play a game," said Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. "No clue. Nobody knows to my knowledge. I don't know who makes the call."

What to watch: The Big Ten is facing mounting pressure to play as early as October, and there's potentially "game-changing" news out of the Pac-12.

  • Big Ten: Ohio State coach Ryan Day released a statement Thursday criticizing the lack of communication from the league, and James Franklin voiced his frustration on ESPN radio.
  • Pac-12: A new partnership with Quidel Corporation will give Pac-12 campuses access to daily testing by the end of September, two months ahead of previous estimates. Will that speed up their timeline? How soon can the Big Ten and others gain access to daily testing?

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
May 13, 2020 - Sports

Sports leagues are preparing for an era without fans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the turn of the century, futurist Watts Wacker predicted that sports stadiums of the future would essentially be sound stages optimized for TV, rather than coliseum-like structures built to seat thousands of fans.

Why it matters: Prior to the coronavirus, things were already moving in this direction, with teams building smaller, more intimate venues in response to declining attendance and changing viewing habits.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
39 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.