I was really, really hoping I wouldn’t have to do another one of these this season, but I guess it was a bit naive to think that the Buckeyes would just be immune to a pandemic that has affected millions of people worldwide.
Ohio State’s COVID-19 cases are on the rise, which has led to this weekend’s game against Illinois being cancelled. It is unclear whether or not they will be able to return next week against Michigan State, but the main concern right now is that the individuals who have tested positive are able to beat this virus and get healthy. While many of us, myself included, are upset that the Buckeyes won’t take the field this weekend, we must not forget that these are real people first, and that their health is the No. 1 priority.
With the absence of an Ohio State game, some of you may be looking for something else to watch as you remain socially distant from the world on your couch for another Saturday of college football. Let’s run through today’s slate and find some games that should be of interest to fans of the Buckeyes and just college football fans in general.
(Spoiler: Today’s matchups are NOT the most exciting as a whole, unfortunately)
12:00 p.m. — No. 12 Indiana vs. Maryland OR Penn State at Michigan
This was supposed to be when Ohio State would take on Illinois, but now Buckeye fans are presented with a Sophie’s choice: Do you want to watch what could be an interesting game between the Terrapins and a Hoosiers squad that could now be in line to play in the Big Ten title game if OSU doesn’t play enough games to qualify, or do you hate yourself enough to sit through three hours of bad football just to laugh at what is going on at the other two “premier” programs in the East division?
For Maryland, they are returning from a two-game hiatus following a COVID-19 outbreak in their program. After losing their season opener against Northwestern, the Terps defeated Minnesota and Penn State — a feat that looks far less impressive now — and haven’t played a game since. Taulia Tagovailoa has been awesome after his shaky start, throwing for 676 yards with six TDs and just one INT in his past two starts. On the flip side, we know what Indiana looks like this year, and this could be a good game to see if Michael Penix and that passing offense really are as good as they looked last week against the Buckeyes.
Then there is the slop-fest that is Penn State-Michigan. Imagine telling Big Ten fans at the beginning of the season that this game would be the biggest joke of the year. Two head coaches on the hottest of seats will battle it out as the Nittany Lions look for their first win of the year and the Wolverines try to find a quarterback that doesn’t regress under Jim Harbaugh. I’m not going to try to sell you on this being a good football game, but it may be one of those things where it is something so bad you just can't look away. This is all of us watching this one play out:
3:30 p.m. — No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 22 Auburn
The midday slate does not provide all that much relief, but at least we get a big rivalry game on what is usually Rivalry Week to feel some semblance of normalcy. Still, the Iron Bowl feels a little different this year, as Alabama has looked like the best team in the country this year and Auburn has... existed.
I am on the record as being very anti-Bo Nix hype train. The Tigers quarterback got a ton of credit following his performance in the comeback over Oregon to begin his collegiate career last season, but since then he has been wholly average. Auburn, however, does have some playmakers on its roster, and while it is unclear whether or not running back Tank Bigsby will be able to suit up after picking up an injury last time out, the team still features wide receiver Seth Williams — who has caught 33 passes for 563 yards and three TDs this year.
On Alabama’s end, the team will obviously be without the coaching prowess of Nick Saban. Like Ryan Day, Saban has tested positive for COVID-19, and it will be Steve Sarkisian roaming the sidelines for the Crimson Tide. This will likely not matter all that much, as Alabama is a far more talented team. Mac Jones is having a Heisman-caliber season, and this is in large part due to a stable of talented receivers including Devonta Smith and John Metchie. There is a reason Alabama is a 24-point favorite, but I guess you never really know what could happen when it comes to rivalry games.
7:00 p.m. — No. 9 Georgia at South Carolina OR No. 13 Michigan State vs. Notre Dame (basketball, 8:00 p.m.)
The night slate is really, really ugly. The only ranked teams in action are Georgia and No. 5 Texas A&M, and they’re both playing in games with spreads of 15 points or more — which is why I have provided a college basketball alternative.
The Bulldogs have been criminally overrated by the College Football Playoff Committee. It makes absolutely zero sense to me how a team who got blown out by the two Top-10 teams on their schedule and whose only “good” wins are over 5-2 Auburn and 2-5 Tennessee is worthy of even sniffing the Top-10, but I digress. J.T. Daniels looks to be an improvement over Stetson Bennett, but it would be very funny to me if they lost this game to South Carolina — like they did last season.
If that game winds up getting out of hand, we can turn our attention to the hardwood, where we get a chance to preview two opponents that Ohio State will play at some point this season. Michigan State is the No. 13 hoops team in the country, and looked solid in their 83-67 victory in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. Notre Dame is not expected to be all that good this year, and it will be tough draw to play a team like the Spartans to open the new campaign, but maybe they will surprise some people.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play the Fighting Irish on Dec. 8, and their first of two matchups against Michigan State is not until Jan. 31.
11:00 p.m. — Hawaii vs. Nevada
If you’ve made it this far, why not go just a little bit farther? I’m going to be honest with you, I can't find all that much reason to put eyes on this game unless you have some money wagered on it, but I'm always down for a little late-night Hawaii action on-island.
The Rainbow Warriors have begun the season 2-3, losing each of their last two games. It was nearly a miraculous comeback in their last time out. After trailing Boise State 33-9 in the third quarter, they were able to make it an eight-point game with five minutes remaining before falling short 40-32. Hawaii is led by QB Chevan Cordeiro, who has throw for over 1,200 yards with eight touchdowns and four INTs on the year. Running back Calvin Turner has done it all for the Rainbow Warriors thus far, scoring four TDs through the air and three on the ground.
The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, have looked really good this season. The undefeated leaders in the Mountain West have rattled off five-straight victories to start the new campaign, winning one-score games against New Mexico and San Diego State in their last two times out. Quarterback Carson Strong has been... strong, for Nevada, throwing for over 1,800 yards with 14 TD passes to just two INTs. Romeo Doubs has been a star in the wide receiver core, catching 35 passes for 770 yards and nine scores for the Wolf Pack.
It should be a fun game, as most games in Hawaii are. The only issue is you will probably have to go out of your way to find a means to stream it, as it won’t be on your typical TV channels. A true degenerate gambler’s dream.