COLUMBUS — Ohio State and Michigan won’t be playing The Game in 2020.
Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel made the announcement in a statement released Tuesday, noting the Big Ten football game against the Buckeyes was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Wolverines team.
”The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” Manuel said in the statement. “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.”
Michigan also canceled last week’s game against Maryland because of virus outbreak and case numbers have not improved enough to play this Saturday in Columbus, Manuel said.
This is third game that Ohio State has been forced to cancel this season, with the other two being the games against Illinois and Maryland.
The No. 4 Buckeyes (5-0) were favored to win Saturday’s game by 30 points, the largest point spread between the teams in modern history.
Buckeyes Head Coach Ryan Day said Tuesday that he believes the Big Ten should take a “hard look“ at eliminating the six-game minimum requirement for teams to play in the conference championship game if Ohio State is unable to find a team to play in what would be its sixth game this weekend.
Michigan (2-4) is suffering through a poor season that has prompted questions about Coach Jim Harbaugh’s future in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines blew out Minnesota in the season opener, but have manaaged only one other win — squeaking past Rutgers by three points in overtime. Michigan lost to previously winless Penn State in the Wolverines last outing.
The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry started in 1897 and the teams have played every year since 1918, a game that occurred during the Spanish flu pandemic. The Buckeyes and Wolverines were set to meet for the 117th time and for the 103rd consecutive year. Michigan has been Ohio State’s final regular-season opponent since 1935.
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