National Championship Game On As-Scheduled, But Buckeyes Reportedly Short-Handed Again

Ohio State and Alabama will play on Monday night, but Dan Patrick is reporting that Ohio State is dealing with upwards of 20 positive tests, including two defensive starters.
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Any speculation about the national championship game being pushed back was essentially over on Thursday when Ryan Day confirmed that the Buckeyes were still planning to play on Monday.

But on Friday afternoon, each team did a final round of CoVID-19 testing before traveling to Miami for the championship game and both teams cleared their respective hurdles. Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne tweeted this afternoon the Crimson Tide are ready to go.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Buckeyes are at full strength. In fact, it's very likely that they will be without a group of players again on Monday.

Here's what two sources told national talk show host Dan Patrick about Ohio State's current circumstance. Dan's report came during his show on Friday morning. He says the Buckeyes are going to be missing a couple of starters on the defensive line.

The Buckeyes don't release a game day status report until an hour or two prior to kickoff, so it won't be made public which players are officially out (or why they're out, since the school doesn't discuss CoVID diagnoses publicly) until Monday night.

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Many of the Ohio State star players have met with the media during scheduled availability this week. The CFP has a protocol in place for the game, stating that it could be postponed if a team has fewer than 53 players available, along with a minimum of one quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four interior defensive linemen.

Ryan Day acknowledged before the Sugar Bowl game and again during his media availability this week that CoVID-19 has been a "gut punch" for the Buckeyes and he acknowledged that the team was dealing with “a new set of challenges this week.” But Day also said they have more than enough players to move forward with the national championship game this weekend.

"Well, any time you deal with that and you lose people, it is a gut punch," Day said Thursday. "But it's not something that we're not used to. We've played games with the majority of our offensive line out. We played the Big Ten Championship game without our top receivers, or some of our top receivers. We've had starters all over the place down at different times, and we've found ways to work through it. 

"It's just been the way it is. And you can feel sorry for yourself or you can just continue to work on and push through it. The hard thing is at the end of the day most people don't really care. They just watch the game and the result is the result. But for us, that's why the story about this season is just so amazing to me, is that we just continued to push through despite all those difficult challenges along the way. And no different this week. We've got a new set of challenges this week. We're going to have to figure it out, go down to Miami and play."

It's been an extremely trying year for Ohio State and the task doesn't appear to be getting easier leading into Monday night's game. But the Buckeyes have made it this far and will have the chance to win a championship under circumstances that nobody could have imagined last year.

Game on.

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