“The Game” is gone, and so goes Ohio State’s bid to win the Big Ten. For the first time since 1918, the between Ohio State and Michigan will not be played. This is due to the increased number of positive COVID-19 tests among Michigan’s team, per SportsCenter.
Breaking: Michigan announced that its game vs. Ohio State has been canceled due to an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases and student-athletes in quarantine over the past week. pic.twitter.com/8KPaeJwChW
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 8, 2020
Pull Strings for the Buckeyes?
Due to the cancelation of this game, Ohio State will fail to reach the minimum number of games required to play in the Big Ten Championship Game despite being undefeated. Unless the Big Ten chooses to change the rules and/or Ohio State cannot find another opponent, Indiana is playing in the title game against Northwestern.
While the Big Ten agreed upon these rules when they uncanceled their season back in September, suddenly the Buckeyes don’t like this rule. According to CBS Sports, Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day the Big Ten needs to take a “hard look” at this requirement. Shocking: suddenly a rule is problematic when it impacts you.
The Big Ten could try to help Ohio State. They could either wave the six-game requirement, or they could find another opponent. ESPN’s Heather Dinich suggested a rematch between Ohio State and Indiana if the Hoosiers game against Purdue is called off. That would also boost the Buckeyes putrid strength of schedule.
It could be in the best interest of the conference to consider one of these options. If the Buckeyes are out, the Big Ten might be out. There are three SEC teams in the top six along with Clemson and Notre Dame ranked second and third.
Deciding the Top Four
Week 15’s CFP poll will reflect last week’s game, so the Buckeyes should remain in the top four for now. However, that could all change next week, when they do not play again. This opens the door to other teams in the top 10 to make a run for the playoff.
For example, Texas A&M currently sits at fifth. Even though they had their game canceled, and have a loss, they still have three more games played than Ohio State. If the Buckeyes are booted and–and this is needed too–Florida loses to Alabama, the Aggies can slide. Now, of course, if Florida wins, the committee could put them in the top four instead while leaving Bama, Clemson and Notre Dame in the top four. This works especially if Clemson wins the ACC.
Lastly, there remains the outside contender in Cincinnati. The Bear Cats are undefeated, ranked seventh and can still finish the season as the 9-0 AAC Champs. Picture this: Florida loses, Clemson loses, Ohio State drops and the Aggies’ don’t cut it. Cincinnati could jump up three spots to number four. Does this mean that Cincinnati can beat Bama? Not at all. But the committee, in the bind they could be in, could have no choice but to give the Bear Cats a berth to the Rose Bowl.