Citing a rising number of COVID-19 cases in its program, MI canceled its annual showdown with Ohio State on Tuesday as college football lurches toward the end of the season without one of its cornerstone rivalry games.
Ohio State destroyed Michigan State 52-12 in East Lansing on Saturday.
MI athletic director Warde Manuel said he's in favor of making the change and doesn't think Ohio State should be penalized for circumstances beyond its control during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
There was optimistic news Monday as ESPN reported MI had been cleared for limited workouts and planned to start practices for the Ohio State contest.
"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".
The Big Ten officially changed its policy that teams must play six games to be eligible for the conference championship game, meaning undefeated No. 4 Ohio State will face Northwestern on December 19. Big Ten athletics directors are scheduled to meet Wednesday, and the league's six-game requirement for championship eligibility could be revisited and changed.
The top six teams in the College Football Playoff rankings remained the same Tuesday, including Ohio State, which stayed at No. 4 despite uncertainty about its upcoming opponents. If the Hoosiers can not play this weekend or next, the Big Ten would have risked the possibility of a three-win Michigan State or Penn State team winning a freaky war of attrition to claim a title game spot had it kept the six-game minimum on the books. A rematch with IN might not be ideal for Ohio State but it would be better than sitting at home.
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"There's a lot of hatred that goes toward that (Michigan) logo", he said. After they both transferred from Marquette after the 2018-19 season and sat out last season, Sam Hauser has become Virginia's leading scorer, while younger sibling Joey has done the same at Michigan State.
So, without the contest against the Wolverines, Ohio State falls short of the six-game minimum for conference championship eligibility.
The news comes after MI reported a virus outbreak early last week, forcing the program to pause all in-person activity for a week and cancel last weekend's game against Maryland. Because they were undefeated and already hold a head to head win over IN, who is now one game behind them IN the Big Ten East Division standings, the Buckeyes would have qualified for the conference title game even if they had lost their sixth game of the year.
That idea became less likely, though, when IN paused all football activities Tuesday night because of COVID-19 issues.
The Big Ten has scheduled a Weekend of Champions the same weekend as the championship game in which the second through seventh place teams in each division would be matched up.
The change was made at the expense of surprising IN (6-1), which would have gone to the title game if the six-game rule had remained intact.
There has been speculation that the Wolverines would try to duck Ohio State to avoid another embarrassing loss.