Ohio State-Michigan is cancelled, marking the first time the two teams haven’t played since 1917.
On Tuesday afternoon, an announcement came down that Michigan’s outbreak had not subsided enough to continue football activities.
Michigan had resumed practice and Ryan Day said that everything indicated the game would still happen. However, the outbreak that cause Michigan to cancel their game against Maryland is now costing “the Game.”
Ohio State-Michigan Cancelled: What Does This Mean for the Buckeyes?
The Ohio State-Michigan Series
As far as the series goes, Ohio State had a chance to tie the longest win streak in the rivalry. Michigan set the mark at nine games from 1901-1909, winning 13 of the first 15. Ohio State had not won until 1919, but tied in 1900 and in 1910.
Recently, the Buckeyes have won 17 of the last 18, including each of the last eight. Ohio State could have tie Michigan for the longest winning streak of the rivalry this year with nine apiece.
The rivalry hasn’t even been close the last few years, with four double-digit victories in the last five matchups. In fact, in the last two years, the Buckeyes have outscored the Wolverines by a combined 45 points. In 2018, Day was already the head coach in waiting, and officially took the helm in 2019.
It’s a shame we have to miss out on Day Year Three, especially with Justin Fields playing as well has he has been this season.
The Big Ten Championship
Because of cancellations in two previous games, the Buckeyes’ regular season is over at five games.
Before the start of the season, the Big Ten decided that for a team to compete for the conference championship game, they would need to play six of the scheduled eight games. That means Ohio State will miss it’s first Big Ten Championship game since 2016.
Right now, Indiana will represent the East for the first time in its history.
Northwestern has already clinched their spot as the Western Division Champion. this is their second appearance in the game. Their first was a 45-24 loss to Ohio State.
Ohio State has the second-most appearances in the Championship game with five, behind only Wisconsin. The Buckeyes have won all four of their games as the East Division Champion, with their only loss coming from brief Leaders and Legends format. No other school has won more Big Ten Championship Games than Ohio State.
All that success might come to a screeching halt. The Buckeyes were looking to become the first Big Ten Champions for four consecutive years since they did so from 2005-2009.
There are two ways that Ohio State can still squeak into the Conference Championship.
First of all, they could try to schedule a replacement game. After Nebraska tried to schedule a replacement for Wisconsin in Week 2, the Big Ten reversed their policy and allowed replacement games to be scheduled.
There are two ranked teams that are free due to cancellations this week. Number 5 Texas A&M and number 24 Tulsa have had games cancelled, and could add some strength to the Buckeyes’ schedule.
However, the Big Ten has banned scheduling out of conference games, so the Buckeyes will have to look inside the conference.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no other Big Ten games have been cancelled, so Ohio State has no apparent options.
This isn’t to say that it couldn’t happen. BYU and Coastal Carolina proved how quickly two schools could make something happen. But right now, this isn’t a likely scenario.
Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin’s athletic director, suggested that changing the six game rule is on the table.
“They’re sitting up there still ranked No. 4. Our league can’t keep them from having the opportunity if they have a chance to be in the finals,” he said during a press conference last week.
Reports say that other school might switch games around to help the Buckeyes play number six.
It’s clear that Ohio State in the championship game is what’s best for the Big Ten. They’re trying their best to make it happen.
College Football Playoff
The College Football Playoff is a different scenario all together.
If Ohio State only has six games (they will still have six because of the plus-one games at the end of the season), the committee will have a hard time putting them in the top four without a conference championship game.
That’s a fair argument, especially considering the strength of (or lack of) Ohio State’s schedule.
There isn’t a path for Ohio State without the Big Ten Championship game.
Perhaps the committee could make the argument Ohio State defeated both Indiana and Michigan State (which is the only team to beat Northwestern). So Ohio State could have a win over the conference champion or have a transitive win over the conference champion.
That’s still a week argument. The only saving grace for Ohio State is that they are being barred from the championship game by an arbitrary rule rather than by a loss on their record. Perhaps the committee takes that into account.
This story is still developing and there will be countless updates as the week goes on. The only thing we know is that Ohio State will not play Michigan this week. Everything else is either speculation or subject to change.
But with Championship aspirations aside, it’s a shame for College Football that this game cannot be played.