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Who needs a full end zone at Wrigley Field, anyway?

Wrigley Field football

Oldtimers remember that the NFL’s Chicago Bears played with an eight-foot-deep end zone at Wrigley Field because of the football-unfriendly dimensions there, and apparently no one did the actual math when placing a football field at the Friendly Confines; as a result the Northwestern/Illinois game will be played with only one end zone.

The Big Ten announced the game rules for the game, the first football game played at Wrigley Field since the Bears moved to Soldier Field. They’re a little weird, forced on the teams by the lack of space at the ends of the field. Only one end zone will be used, according to the Big Ten: all offensive play will be toward the west end zone (the one into the grandstand). If you bought right-field seats, you’re pretty much SOL, as all the action will be going away from you. Even kickoffs: team will kick off to the east, with the players running toward the grandstand.

Here are the four rule changes, per the Big Ten:

1) All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.
2) All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3) After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.
4) As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes. Wrigley Field is one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

RELATED STORIES: College football returns to pro ballparks this weekend

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