The Ohio State Buckeyes have earned an invitation to the College Football Playoff for the second consecutive season, and they'll have a rematch with the Clemson Tigers.
Considering what the Buckeyes have been through this year—and especially the last few weeks—with CoVID-19, the biggest question that Ohio State needs to address is who will actually be available to play in that game.
A College Football Playoff spokesman told the Toledo Blade that each qualifying team must continue to adhere to its own conference's CoVID-19 guidelines. That means if an Ohio State player tests positive, as of now, he must sit out 21 days. The Big 12, ACC and SEC policy is for players to sit out 10 days after being diagnosed with the virus.
However, it appears the Big Ten is changing its protocols.
According to ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, "Big Ten players who test positive for COVID-19 will only be required to miss 17 days, a reduction from 21, according to a document obtained by ESPN showing new policy from B1G's return to competition task force medical subcommittee. Same cardiac protocols will remain."
The Buckeyes were without 22 players against Northwestern on Saturday, but the Game Day Status Report does not specify which players are battling CoVID-19 and which ones are perhaps recovering from an injury. Ohio State doesn't discuss the specifics around CoVID-19 diagnoses with their student-athletes, so it's impossible to no for sure how many Buckeyes are dealing with it.
That said, Ryan Day acknowledged after the Buckeyes had a mix of players that had the virus and others who had been contact-traced, as well as players that were otherwise unavailable. Certainly the team will try to get as healthy as possible, as quickly as possible. Star wide receiver Chris Olave, starting linebacker Baron Browning and punter Drue Chrisman were among the players unavailable for the Big Ten title game.
As for how many of the 22 could return, Day just told Rece Davis on ESPN that "a good amount" of his players would be able to play in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, but there are a few that could be right along the cut line, depending on the official word from the league office. But it does appear the Buckeyes will likely get Olave back.
"That's the problem we've had. Guys have been kind of in and out, but they just keep finding a way to win," Day said in an interview with ESPN. "But I think – we get Chris (Olave) back, now the offensive linemen, three of those guys this is their second game in a month – so that's been the challenge. But I think us all practicing together, practicing at a high level, understanding that we're going to go good on good the best we can to get the best look we possibly can to keep the timing up, I think this is our best chance."
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