COLUMBUS — Ohio State’s football game at Illinois has been canceled because the No. 3 Buckeyes have had a spike of COVID-19 cases this week.
The cancelation came about sevens hours after the school announced coach Ryan Day had tested positive and would not be available to coach if the Buckeyes played.
The team did not travel Friday to Champaign, Illinois, as scheduled so additional COVID-19 testing could be conducted. After finding returning positive tests, the game was called.
After two days of rumors and speculation, OSU revealed Friday afternoon that Day and other people inside the football program had tested positive this week.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson would have been acting coach for Saturday’s game. No other names of players, coaches or support staff who tested positive were released.
An Ohio State news release earlier in the day said, “At this time the Department of Athletics can confirm an increased number of positive tests this week for the coronavirus. This is in contrast to testing throughout the season, when Ohio State had consistently recorded nearly 0% positivity since Aug. 11.
“The increased number does not reach the threshold for Ohio State to have to cancel the game this week, according to Big Ten Conference protocols.”
Ohio State completed another round of point of contact (POC) daily testing Friday morning. All team members along with Tier I coaches and support staff underwent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing Friday afternoon to to ensure that everyone on the trip was confirmed negative for the coronavirus.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said earlier Friday, “Our team wants to play this game and we’re going to do everything we can to help make this happen.” All of the decisions on the welfare of our student-athletes and staff members will continue to be guided by our medical staff.”
Part of the Big Ten’s late October return after canceling its fall football schedule in August was a specification that a team must play six games to be eligible to play in the conference championship game on Dec. 19.
OSU has already had one game canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Maryland’s football program.
With there likely being no chance of the Illinois game being rescheduled, the Buckeyes will be at the minimum six games with games against Michigan State and Michigan still to be played. Or not played, in the worst possible scenario.
There is an exception to the rule, which is if the Big Ten as a whole averages fewer than six games, then a team which played fewer than six games could still be eligible for the championship game.
Unlike the Big Ten, the College Football Playoff does not have a minimum number of games that a team must play to be considered for a spot in the playoff.
The College Football Playoff website says, “There is no minimum game requirement to be eligible for the College Football Playoff. The selection committee’s job is to select the top four teams beginning Nov. 24 and continuing through the final rankings Dec. 20. The number of games and wins by each team is certainly important in weighing its ranking, but it is not the only factor.”
So, it is possible a 4-0 or 5-0 Ohio State team could still have a chance to get into a playoff semifinal game even if it missed the Big Ten championship game. OSU (4-0) was No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which were announced on Tuesday.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414