We’ve seen it happen numerous times across the college football landscape this season as programs continue to try and play through a pandemic: game cancellations.
While it has seemed throughout the process that Ohio State has taken their COVID-19 protocols very seriously, there are two sides to every matchup. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, this weeks opponent, Maryland, has run into an outbreak. As a result, this Saturday’s game against the Terrapins has been cancelled.
Now this is not to say that Maryland did not take their protocols seriously, as I'm sure they have. It is impossible to totally eliminate the risk of contracting a highly contagious virus. Even wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, it is as simple as going to the grocery store, touching something someone with the virus coughed on, and then forgetting to wash your hands before touching your face.
The Big Ten left itself no wiggle room with its new fall schedule, and so things like this were bound to happen. It is unfortunate, but we should be content with having any football at all this season. With that being said, what should fans of Ohio State direct their eyes to this weekend?
With the Buckeyes on the shelf, we’ve got you covered with a full slate of action for your viewing pleasure.
10 a.m. — The Masters (CBSSports.com/CBS Sports App)
Up early before the first kickoff of the day? Go out and get yourself a nice take-out breakfast sandwich from your local deli or family-owned restaurant (it’s important to support small business during these tough times) and plop yourself on the couch for some golf.
Now 19 months removed from his historic victory at Augusta in 2019, Tiger Woods returns to try and defend his crown among the field of 93 golfers. Originally scheduled to take place in April, the pandemic has moved the Masters to mid-November, where the azaleas have been replaced by the fall foliage and the patrons are nowhere to be seen — for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately with the way the coverage is set up this year, the only way to watch all of the early-morning action at the Masters is by streaming it through CBS’ website or app. If you aren’t interested in watching college football that doesn’t involve Ohio State on Saturday, the tournament will jump to the TV broadcast at 1 p.m. on CBS.
9 a.m. - Noon — College Gameday (ESPN)
If golf isn't your thing, then you can fill the time between the morning and the opening kickoff with College Gameday, which will broadcast for the first time ever live from Augusta National Golf Club.
Between the inability to host large crowds of fans with witty signs like the show usually does and the postponement of the original scheduled date of the Masters, the Gameday crew gets a rare opportunity to do their pre-game show from a historic golf course. The stage will be overlooking Ike’s Pond and the 9th green of the Par 3 course at Augusta. For fans of both sports, it is a rare opportunity to see the two very different worlds collide.
12 p.m. — No. 10 Indiana vs. Michigan State (ABC)
If I would have told you preseason that the Indiana-Michigan State game would be must-watch TV for Ohio State fans in mid-November, would you have believed me?
The Spartans are a very strange team in their first year under Mel Tucker. After losing their first game of the season to Rutgers — an improved Rutgers, but still RUTGERS — Michigan State defeated rival Michigan 27-24 in Ann Arbor. They came back the following week only to get dominated by an Iowa squad that began the year 0-2. Needless to say, I have no idea what to think about Michigan State.
Then there is everyones favorite Big Ten underdog Indiana. Many had pegged the Hoosiers to be a strong competitor in the East division this year, and here we are heading into the fourth week of B1G play with Indiana ranked in the AP Top 10. With Ohio State not playing, a win this week would give Tom Allen’s squad sole possession of first place in the division. It would certainly make for a very interesting matchup next weekend, when the Hoosiers head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes with a spot in the Big Ten title game on the line.
3 p.m. — No. 2 Notre Dame vs. Boston College (ABC)
You don't even have to change the channel once that one is over, as you can stick with ABC for a big ACC matchup between the Fighting Irish and the Eagles.
Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley is off to a very encouraging start in his first year as head coach at Boston College. At 5-3 on the season, his team nearly completed upsets against both UNC and Clemson before ultimately coming up short. He has been getting some excellent QB play this season from Phil Jurkovec, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards through eight games. The Notre Dame transfer will look to upset his former team in what will function as the Eagles’ Red Bandana Game.
Notre Dame is coming off perhaps the biggest win for any college football team so far this year with their OT victory over then-No. 1 Clemson last weekend. The absence of Trevor Lawrence was no excuse for the Tigers’ performance in that game, as the Fighting Irish totaled 518 yards of offense in South Bend. Notre Dame QB Ian Book as been very efficient on the year, completing 60% of his passes for over 1,500 yards with 13 total TDs to just one INT. Book and the Irish will have to avoid a let down, as an undefeated regular season would almost certainly cement their spot in the College Football Playoff.
7:30 p.m. — No. 13 Wisconsin vs. Michigan (ABC)
Man, ABC really lucked out with the ultimate parlay of intriguing games for Ohio State fans this weekend, didn’t they? You’ll likely have some time before this one kicks off to grab yourself some dinner and restock the beverage cooler as you settle in for the night slate.
Wisconsin is playing their first game since the season opener after missing the past two weeks with a COVID-19 outbreak. It still isn’t entirely clear whether or not Badgers starting QB Graham Mertz will be suiting up for this one, but at this time all signs point to that being the case. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst will be hoping to see a repeat performance from Mertz, after completing 20-of-21 passes for 248 yards and five TDs in his debut against Illinois. Against this Michigan secondary, any QB on their roster could probably have a field day.
Speaking of that Wolverines secondary, Jim Harbaugh will have to hope his defense can figure things out. After convincingly defeating Minnesota in their season opener — a team we now know is not very good — Michigan has lost two games in a row to Michigan State and Indiana. Hoosier QB Michael Penix absolute diced up the UM defense, passing for 342 yards and three TDs. On the offensive side of things, Joe Milton has not exactly been the revolutionary QB some had expected, and the run game will have to be better than the putrid 18 carries for 13 yards they contributed against Indiana.
I’ll throw an honorable mention here for the Northwestern-Purdue game at 7:30 p.m. on BTN. If this game gets out of hand, it will probably be worth flipping over to catch the battle for Big Ten West supremacy.
10:30 p.m. — Oregon State vs. Washington (FS1)
It is so good to get some West Coast football back in our lives. It doesn’t get much better than capping off a long day of college football with some weird and wild action over in #PAC12AfterDark. This spot was originally slated for the Utah vs. UCLA game, but alas...
Oregon State kicked off their season with a loss to Washington State in the opener, now finding themselves losers of four of their last five games dating back to last season. The Beavers offense actually looked pretty good against the Cougars, as junior QB Tristan Gebbia passed for 329 yards and a TD while RB Jermar Jefferson rushed for 120 yards and three scores. The defense was not spectacular, allowing 456 yards against Wazzu including 229 yards on the ground.
For Washington, this will be their first game of the 2020 campaign after the season opener against Cal was cancelled for COVID-19 problems in the Golden Bears program. The Huskies still have questions as to who will start at QB, but it is expected to be Sacramento State transfer Kevin Thomson. The 2019 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year threw for over 3,200 yards with 39 total TDs last season. Washington has won the last eight meetings between the two programs dating back to 2012.
Look, I'm not going to try to sell you on this being a great game, but it is quite literally the last remaining late-night kickoff other than UNLV-San Jose State. The Utah-UCLA game would have been much more entertaining, but we’ve gotta work with what we have.
Thanks a lot, COVID.