The biggest rivalry game in college football between Michigan and Ohio State has been canceled due to an increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week within the Wolverines’ program.
ESPN: The decision was made after conversations with medical experts, health department officials and the university administration.
“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. “We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals.
“This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches, but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making.”
The Wolverines had canceled its game against Maryland on Dec. 5 and paused all team activities.
The program was cleared for limited workouts on Monday and participated in those workouts, but the administration decided to cancel the game due to the increase in cases and the number of student-athletes in quarantine over the past week.
The cancellation of this game puts Ohio State at five total games played this season, which is under the threshold put forth by the Big Ten conference to compete in the conference championship game against Northwestern.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 8, 2020
The rule states that teams must play in six games to qualify for the championship game, unless the average number of games throughout the conference falls below six.
Big Ten athletic directors will meet Wednesday, according to sources, when they could discuss changing the benchmark.
“I just think we have to take a hard look periodically at all this stuff, and this is one of those situations,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Tuesday. “If we don’t quite get the games we need to get in the championship game, I think that needs to be looked at hard, just like anybody else in the conference. There’s no easy solution in times like this.
“I know those guys are going to come together and take a hard look at it and make sure it was the right decision.”
In addition, if another Big Ten game for Saturday were to be canceled, the conference could move around games in an effort to get Ohio State to play.
If Purdue, which canceled practice Tuesday to evaluate its latest COVID-19 testing, had to cancel against Indiana, the Big Ten could move around games or have Indiana and Ohio State play again.
If the conference were not to alter its rules and Ohio State were to not play Saturday, Indiana would be the East Division’s representative in the conference championship game.