Saturday's matchup between No. 4 Ohio State and Michigan at Ohio Stadium in Columbus has been canceled, Michigan announced on Tuesday. The annual rivalry game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines will not be rescheduled. The cancellation also carries some potential College Football Playoff implications as the Buckeyes now will fall below the required six games to be played in order to gain eligibility into the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 19.
Michigan returned to the practice field in limited capacity on Monday after multiple positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing forced a shutdown last week. However, coach Jim Harbaugh's scheduled press conference slated for Tuesday was abruptly canceled by Michigan without an explanation as the cancellation was presumably in the works.
"The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days," said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel. "We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals. 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."
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The conference released a statement on Tuesday afternoon addressing the cancellation of the rivalry.
"We are in unprecedented times," the statement read. "The health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans, campuses and the surrounding communities remains the number one priority of the conference and its member institutions. The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is one of the most important rivalries in all of sports. The conference shares the disappointment of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, partners and fans. The conference is committed to transparency and will continue to collaborate with its member institution stakeholders to determine Big Ten Football Championship Game participation requirements as well as tiebreakers."
Ohio State coach Ryan Day pushed for contingency plans earlier in the day during his press conference on Tuesday -- specifically requesting a path to become eligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. The third-year coach of the Buckeyes said that the conference should take a "hard look" at the six-game minimum to qualify for the game.
Indiana, which has a 6-1 record, would currently represent the Big Ten East if Ohio State isn't eligible despite the Buckeyes defeating the Hoosiers 42-35 on Nov. 21. Ohio State's strength of schedule isn't exactly appealing to the CFP selection committee, either. The combined record of its opponents is 14-19. Of course, a win over a 2-4 Michigan team wouldn't exactly have been overly impressive other than the fact that it's a rivalry game.