There appears to be a growing chance that the Ohio State Buckeyes could be excluded from the Big Ten Championship for not playing enough regular season games. With the Buckeyes representing the Big Ten’s only real chance at a College Football Playoff bid, however, those rules may change.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who chaired the conference’s return-to-play task force, admitted that the rule prohibiting teams from playing in the conference championship with fewer than six games played might need to change if the Buckeyes can’t meet the mark.
“I would think that if something would happen to Ohio State and they’d have to cancel another game, that that’s something that we’ve got to revisit,” Alvarez told the Detroit News. “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.”
Make no mistake: this is all about the Playoff. If the Big Ten has a chance to land one of the four spots, they’ll do everything possible to help ensure that. If it means changing the rules to accommodate their lone contender, so be it.
To date, the Buckeyes have only played four of the required six games. They have two games left on their schedule, but at least one of them is said to be in jeopardy.
The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes have played annually since 1918. That could be in serious jeopardy in 2020.
According to Chris Balas of The Wolverine, the COVID-19 issues within the Michigan program are severe enough that he would “bet against” a game being played next week. The Wolverines are scheduled to face Ohio State in Columbus on Dec. 12.
Michigan added further backing to this report by announcing that it has paused football activities and canceled Saturday’s game against Maryland. The Wolverines will resume practicing no earlier than Dec. 7.
The consequences of a cancellation against Ohio State could be far-reaching. The Buckeyes would become ineligible to play in the Big Ten Championship with one more cancellation, which would limit their schedule to five games due to their own virus issues. Big Ten teams are required to play at least six games in order to be eligible for the championship game.
There are some who will think this proves this college football analyst right. However, it sounds like there are very real problems within the Michigan program right now.
Kirk Herbstreit offered a surprising prediction for the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry game this year.
Herbstreit appeared on ESPN’s “College Football Playoff” rankings release show on Tuesday and talked about Ohio State maintaining the No. 4 spot in the rankings despite having its game canceled last week. He discussed the Buckeyes’ remaining season and mentioned the Michigan game.
“I still think Michigan waves the white flag and potentially avoids playing Ohio State next week. And then they’ll potentially get a game on the 19th,” Herbstreit. “Michigan could opt out of that game and keep Ohio State out of six games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship. That could potentially happen next week.”
Herbstreit may have been trying to get ahead of the situation to bully the Wolverines into playing the game.
The issue, as Herbstreit mentioned, is the lack of games remaining on Ohio State’s schedule. The Buckeyes are 4-0 and their game against Illinois last week was canceled. They need to play at least six games to qualify for the conference championship game. They are scheduled to visit Michigan State on Saturday and host Michigan the following week.
Michigan is 2-4 and has not missed a game this season. But they are enduring the worst year they’ve had under Jim Harbaugh. Herbstreit, whose sons play for Clemson, mentioned that some programs are using COVID-19 as an excuse to opt out of games to avoid humiliation. This is the exact accusation that Dabo Swinney made this year.
Jim Harbaugh is a lot of things, but one thing he is not is a chicken who would intentionally duck a game to avoid looking bad. That’s not his character. But Herbstreit thinks it’s a possibility.
Saturday’s Ohio State-Illinois game was canceled due to more positive COVID-19 cases within the Buckeyes’ program.
Ohio State announced on Friday that head coach Ryan Day tested positive. He was going to miss the game and be replaced by Larry Johnson. However, Ohio State conducted more tests within the program on Friday, and those revealed further positive tests, leading to the game’s cancelation.
Ohio State is 4-0 and already had one game canceled this season due to positive COVID cases within the Maryland Terrapins’ program. The Buckeyes would need to play and win their two remaining games — at Michigan State and home vs. Michigan — in order to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Any more canceled games and the Buckeyes might not even be able to qualify for the College Football Playoff, even if they are undefeated. That would be one of the consequences to the Big Ten not beginning its schedule until late October this year.
Ohio State has not specified how many players within the program have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ryan Day has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not coach Ohio State this weekend at Illinois.
Ohio State announced on Friday that there was an increase in positive tests during testing this week and that the coach was among those who tested positive for the virus. They also said that Larry Johnson will serve as head coach for the Buckeyes’ game.
Johnson is an assistant head coach/defensive line coach for the Buckeyes. He has been with Ohio State since 2014. Before that, Johnson was a defensive backs coach at Penn State. His son, Larry Jr., was a standout running back at Penn State and later the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Buckeyes are 4-0 this season, while Illinois is 2-3.
Quinn Ewers is headed to Ohio State.
Ewers, a top quarterback recruit, announced last month that he was decommitting from Texas. Recruiting sites immediately projected that the Southlake Carroll star would end up at Ohio State. That is exactly what happened.
Ewers shared a graphic on his Twitter account Thursday that showed he committed to the Buckeyes.
Ewers has been ranked as the No. 1 player in the 2022 recruiting class. He originally committed to Texas in August.
As a sophomore last season, Ewers passed for 4,003 yards, 45 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Several college football games have been postponed or canceled this week due to positive COVID-19 tests, and Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Maryland is one of the latest.
Maryland athletic director Damon Evans announced on Wednesday that the Terrapins have had eight players test positive for the coronavirus over the past seven days. Evans said football activities will be paused, and Maryland’s game against Ohio State will not be made up.
A number of other games have been postponed or canceled this weekend. CBS will not even be showing an SEC game on Saturday due to all of the COVID-related schedule changes. Alabama-LSU, Texas A&M-Tennessee, Georgia-Missouri and Auburn-Mississippi State have all been postponed.
The Big Ten requires teams to play six games in order to be eligible for the Big Ten Championship, unless the average for the conference falls below six. As Bill Landis of The Athletic notes, the average as of Wednesday afternoon was 7.5 following the Ohio State-Maryland cancellation.
Ohio State made what looked like a smart decision at the end of the first half of Saturday’s game against Penn State, but it resulted in three free points for the Nittany Lions. The game clock operator may have been responsible for that outcome.
Ohio State had the ball in its own territory on 4th down with just two seconds remaining in the first half. Rather than punting, head coach Ryan Day decided to have his team snap the ball so quarterback Justin Fields could burn the final two seconds off the clock before taking a knee. Fields appeared to do that, but the game clock operator was a bit slow with the start button. Here’s what happened:
If you freeze the video above, you can see that Fields’ knee was on the ground with one second remaining. He hesitated a bit before taking a knee, so it would have been almost impossible for only one second to come off the clock. Day was stunned when the officials told him the Buckeyes had turned the ball over on downs and needed to come back onto the field.
Penn State took over on downs and kicked a field goal to cut Ohio State’s lead to 21-6 going into halftime. While the Buckeyes won 38-25, Day made his feelings about the situation known after the game.
That certainly seemed like some home cooking from the clock operator at Beaver Stadium. There’s just no way the kneel down took only one second, but officials could only go by the replay that showed Fields’ knee on the ground with one second on the clock. Had Ohio State lost, the play would have been far more controversial.
Top 2022 quarterback recruit Quinn Ewers announced on Wednesday he was decommitting from the Texas Longhorns. Ewers is a five-star recruit and was a major haul for Tom Herman in August. But now Ewers is available, and projections are already rolling in for where the quarterback will commit next.
247 Sports received five crystal ball picks from its insiders following the Ewers decommitment news. All five insiders picked Ohio State as Ewers’ likely choice.
Football Scoop’s Zach Barnett also said in a tweet that Ewers was probably headed to Ohio State.
Ewers is a junior at Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas. He passed for 4,003 yards, 45 touchdowns and just three interceptions as a sophomore last year, while rushing for nine scores. His commitment would be a huge addition for Ohio State, and is a devastating loss for Texas.
Ohio State’s blowout win over Nebraska on Saturday could have looked less lopsided if not for a meaningless touchdown that was scored with less than a minute left, but Huskers head coach Scott Frost was not offended.
Ohio State was up 45-17 with under three minutes left and took over at the Nebraska 40. They ran the ball five straight times and got down to the two. Rather than take a knee, freshman quarterback Jack Miller III ran a ball in for the touchdown with 18 seconds left.
After the game, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day apologized for scoring and tried to offer an explanation for why the Buckeyes didn’t take a knee. Frost was asked about the apology on Monday and said the touchdown did not bother him.
Frost and Day bonded before the season over their desire to have Big Ten football amid the coronavirus pandemic. Frost went out of his way to praise Ohio State and said he will be rooting for the Buckeyes anytime they’re not playing Nebraska. Apparently the late touchdown did not change any of that.