The final scheduled week of the 2020 IHSAA football regular season is here with an unprecedented playoff system starting next week.

The information below is a brief overview and explanation of items included in the 2020 football postseason manual as teams and fans prepare for the playoffs.

For purposes of playoff planning, Friday, October 9 (Week 7) marks the final day of the regular season. Per an update from Tuesday’s Board of Control session, teams whose regular seasons were shortened due to COVID-19 or the derecho storm may conduct select regular season contests after being eliminated from the postseason.

The IHSAA began its varsity football playoffs in 1972. The playoff system used in recent seasons and previously planned for 2020 featured 16 qualifiers per classification. Due to COVID-19 and scheduling adjustments announced in July, all eligible teams in all classifications may qualify for the 2020 playoffs.

The updates below are subject to change. Visit or find the IHSAA on Twitter for the latest announcements and news.

YLI Victory in Life


2020 Postseason Information

Playoff Announcements

First round and second round playoff pod assignments will be announced at 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 10. Third round and quarterfinal pods will be released at 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. Semifinal and final pairings will be released following games on Friday, November 6.

There will not be a traditional bracket release or late Friday night announcement of matchups.


Points of Emphasis

Due to the uncertainty in participation and scheduling created by COVID-19, the manual outlines four points of emphasis for all classifications.

  • A: All teams need to be eligible to participate by the Friday of the first round (October 16). This includes teams with first round byes.
  • B: Games will be played on the Fridays scheduled and will not be delayed due to COVID-19 related issues at a school.
  • C: Once pod assignments are released, teams forced to suspend their seasons will submit a no contest and their opponents will be advanced to the next round.
  • D: If a team wins and is forced to suspend their season prior to the next contest, their upcoming opponent will be advanced to the next round. The team they defeated will remain eliminated from the postseason.
Selection Process

The IHSAA will assign teams to pods throughout the postseason. Geography and district placement will be key determinants in pod assignments.

Due to the number of schools in each classification, byes will be applied in the first round of the six-round playoff system. When possible, byes will be given to teams defined as district champions. Additional byes will be determined by geography and district placement.

Pods will be assigned three times: 1. Ahead of the first round for the first round and second round; 2. Ahead of the third round for the third round and quarterfinals; 3. Ahead of the semifinals for the semifinals and finals.

Pods will be listed numerically (1-16) for the first release and alphabetically (A-D) for the second release. Pods from the first assignment are not linked with other pods for subsequent assignments and teams are not seeded.

An example of pods from the first round through the third round redraw is listed here with points of emphasis added:

POD #1

First Round

Team B beats Team C

Team A BYE

Second Round

Team A beats Team B

POD #2

First Round

Team X beats Team Y

Team Z beats Team W

Second Round

Team Z beats Team X

POD #3

First Round

Team J no contest BYE, Team K suspended

Team L beats Team M

Second Round

Team J beats Team L

POD #4

First Round

Team N beats Team O

Team P beats Team Q

Second Round

Team N no contest BYE, Team P suspended


Third Round

Team A vs. Team Z

Team J vs. Team N

Fourth Round

Winner of A & Z vs. Winner of J & N


Admission will be $6 for first and second round games, $8 for third round and quarterfinal games, and $10 for semifinal and final games.

Tickets are required for each attending individual, school-age and up. Exact cash payment is appreciated. Regular season passes are not accepted at IHSAA postseason events.


UNI-Dome Updates

Semifinals and finals for all classifications will be played at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

Start times have been adjusted from past years to allow for cleaning and clearing the facility. Semifinal kickoff times are now 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. on each day (November 12-14). Finals kickoff times are now 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m. on both days (November 19-20).

More information on spectator and UNI-Dome requirements will be announced prior to the event.


Video Broadcasts & Livestreams

The IHSAA allows postseason lead-up events to be shown via video broadcast or livestream through an application and approval process. NFHS Network and NFHS Network School Broadcast Programs are postseason partners of the IHSAA and have exclusivity and right of first refusal to produce livestreams. Other groups (schools, media outlets, individuals) interested in video access for postseason events may view policies, fees, and applications under the Video Access & Livestreaming section of the Media resources page. Applications require approval from host sites and the IHSAA. Fees are assessed per game with 50% of the fee going to host schools.

Semifinals and finals will be broadcast and streamed by the Iowa High School Sports Network.