It is a sad day out here in Buckeye Nation. For the first time since 1917, Ohio State will not play Michigan as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak inside the Wolverines’ program. The Buckeyes, who were a whopping 30-point favorite in this year’s edition of The Game, will now need to hope the Big Ten will either change the rules for conference title game eligibility — as the team would now fall under the six-game minimum — or help move things around to get them an opponent this weekend.
With the big cancellation dominating the headlines, lets jump right into the rest of today’s Ohio State news and notes.
From around Land-Grant Holy Land...
From around the gridiron...
After it seemed there was some positive momentum towards Ohio State getting to play TTUN this upcoming weekend, those dreams were shattered on Tuesday afternoon.
"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.” pic.twitter.com/IHXOD6lXyj— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) December 8, 2020
Almost immediately following the announcement, people from all over the college football world starting flooding to Twitter to talk about what this means for the Buckeyes. The general consensus is that it would be in the Big Ten’s best interest to either relax their six-game minimum rule for the conference title game, or do everything in its power to get Ohio State a new opponent this weekend.
If somehow Ohio State was able to play Michigan this weekend and lost to the 30-point underdog they’d have still been in the Big Ten title game. There is no argument for Indiana or any other team ahead of them.— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) December 8, 2020
If you're a fan of a Big Ten school and you're rooting for the Big Ten to keep the status quo on the rules for Ohio State, essentially eliminating them from the CFP, then you're shortsighted and dumb.— B1G Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) December 8, 2020
Am told @OhioStateFB officials are trying to find a game and doing so with open mind in terms of opponent. We'll see where this leads. Couple other B1G games are said to be in jeopardy.— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) December 8, 2020
Obviously, the players were not too happy about the cancellation.
— Justin Fields (@justnfields) December 8, 2020
Needed that fifth pair— Drue Chris❌an (@DChrisman91) December 8, 2020
I just wanted another pair of Gold Pants man...— Cameron Brown® (@luh_cam_) December 8, 2020
So what are Ohio State’s options now? Well, it would be fun and interesting if the B1G allows OSU to take on a non-conference opponent — especially if that opponent were Texas A&M or Coastal Carolina. However, the Big Ten hasn't exactly been a fan of doing things the interesting or fun way this season, so that seems unlikely. Vegas would've liked the Buckeyes by double-digits either way.
There are a number of options at play within the Big Ten. You could move up the B1G title game and allow Ohio State to play Northwestern this weekend while then having The Game take place over championship weekend. There is also the option to move around the schedule this week with other teams dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, with both Purdue and Minnesota dealing with potential cancellations. Either way, we are putting a lot of faith in everyones favorite commissioner Kevin Warren.
I trust the Big Ten will handle this just as well as it has with every other major decision regarding football this fall.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) December 8, 2020
Regardless of what decision the Big Ten ultimately comes to, I would imagine we will see things work out in Ohio State’s favor. The conference understands it is in their best interest to get the Buckeyes into the B1G title game and give it the best chance at representation in the College Football Playoff — something that benefits the entire Big Ten as a whole.
Of course the Big Ten is going to adjust and Ohio State will wind up in the Big Ten Championship Game. If you think the conference should shrug its shoulders and sit back and have Indiana in the title game, your argument is very stupid.https://t.co/TFWaFl11Qt— Doug Lesmerises (@DougLesmerises) December 8, 2020
Before everything went haywire on Tuesday, Ohio State’s players and coaches met virtually with the media to discuss what they though would be the Michigan game. Even with that now off the schedule, there were still a few important takeaways from today’s press conference.
This sentiment from Justin Fields still applies regardless of the season.
Fields said the #Buckeyes expect to beat The Team Up North every year.— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) December 8, 2020
As does all of this.
Justin Fields: “We're not worried about individual awards. We're just focused on winning national championships, winning Big Ten championships and beating the team we're playing this weekend.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 8, 2020
Even if Ohio State doesn’t get a game this weekend, it’s good to know that Wyatt Davis will not have to miss any time after leaving the MSU game with an apparent injury.
Wyatt Davis, who left the Michigan State game early, says he'll be available to play this weekend.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) December 8, 2020
"I will be all good. I'll be playing this week. Been getting a bunch of treatment, so I'll be ready to go this week without a doubt."
Kerry Coombs spoke a bit about the defense, and had some good things to say about Ronnie Hickman, who filled in admirably for Josh Proctor against the Spartans.
Kerry Coombs on Ronnie Hickman: “In the era of COVID versatility, he is learning and is capable of playing both of our safety positions... He's a valuable guy for us, and he continues to develop. He's a big, fast guy, and so our job is to coach him well and get him on the field.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 8, 2020
He also lauded the work of Baron Browning, who slid over to the Mike linebacker spot with Tuf Borland out. Justin Hilliard and Dallas Gant both got reps at Browning’s usual position, and the pair both made some really nice plays.
Coombs said Baron Browning “built his resume” last week stepping in at middle linebacker. “He didn’t do a good job, he did a great job."— Bucknuts (@Bucknuts247) December 8, 2020
Ryan Day, now back from isolation, spoke on Tuesday as well, discussing the possibility that the Big Ten walks back some of its restrictions in terms of how long a player has to sit out after testing positive.
Day said if they get any players back this week it would be because of perhaps a reevaluation of the 21-day rule by the Big 10.— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) December 8, 2020
Obviously, he, like everyone else, thinks the six-game rule must be looked at hard.
Day says the 6-game requirement to reach B1G title game was based on the information at the time, notes how things have changed throughout the summer and fall. Thinks if OSU doesn't hit 6 games, "needs to be looked at hard."— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 8, 2020
He also didn’t deny his desire to hang 100 on the Wolverines, which now unfortunately won't happen.
Asked about the "hang 100 on them" comment he reportedly made after a dispute with Jim Harbaugh this summer, Ryan Day didn't deny it but said that's in the past. “There's gonna be a lot of things that are said here or there but we gotta go win this game. That's all that matters.”— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) December 8, 2020
Wrapping up the busy day of football news, Brian Hartline has been nominated for the Broyles Award. One of 56 nominees, the award goes annually to the nation’s best assistant coach.
From around the hardwood...
In the meantime, we still have basketball to look forward to tonight.
It is still unclear whether Musa Jallow or Seth Towns will play tonight. Jallow played a little in the team’s first game of the year but hasn’t seen any action since, and Towns has yet to make his Ohio State debut.
Ohio State's Musa Jallow (leg) and Seth Towns (knee) will both be game-time decisions for tonight's game at Notre Dame, per Chris Holtmann.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 8, 2020
Guess it’s time to reset the clocks :(