What's Next for Ohio State Football with No Michigan Game?

Here's the reality the Buckeyes are now facing as they hope for some help from the Big Ten.
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So what now?

Ohio State football sits at 5-0 on the season and with no game against Michigan anymore, the team is in a tough spot. An awful lot will be decided in the coming day or two, but here's where things stand:

Ohio State is currently healthy enough to play this weekend and it is willing to play a game. While the coaches and players are crushed that they won't be able to play Michigan, they can still accomplish their goal of winning a national title—if the Big Ten chooses to help.

“I think the (minimum games played rule) was one of those things that was put into place early on, and decisions are made based on the information that you have at the time,” Ryan Day said on Tuesday, roughly an hour before the game was cancelled. “Things change, as we know. They cancelled a non-conference season early on, it got changed to conference only, then it got changed to no season, then it got changed to a season. There’s been a lot of changes. I think we have to take a hard look periodically at all this stuff. 

"I think this is one of those situations. If we don’t quite get the games that we need to get into the championship game, then I think that needs to be looked at hard, just like it would for anybody else in the conference. But there’s no easy solution in times like this. I know those guys are going to come together, take a hard look at it and make sure it was the right decision.”

Michigan AD: "I just want to make it clear. I think Ohio State is one of the top four teams in this country and deserves the opportunity to be in the CFP conversation."

Day is spot on. The conference made it's 6-game rule early on in this process. The only rules they truly have to follow are the ones they made up in the first place before the season started. They've already changed their minds about playing after they were the first conference to say they were postponing and would consider a winter or spring season. What different would it make if they changed the minimum games played rule because of the way things actually worked out this season?

Ohio State beat Indiana head-to-head. They are the only two teams that can still win the Big Ten East. If the Buckeyes can't get a replacement game on Saturday, this is an easy decision.

But don't misinterpret that ... Ohio State would rather play Saturday than have the weekend off. They don't need another idle week on the schedule.

And you know who else supports the Buckeyes bid for getting into the Big Ten title game without a sixth game? As it turns out, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

Right now, there are no other games canceled in the Big Ten this week. But with Purdue cancelling practice on Tuesday to evaluate what its CoVID issues are, combined with Minnesota's on-going problem, there is a reasonable chance that another game gets canceled.

The Big Ten has not allowed any of its teams to play a non-conference game this year and I don't see that changing. While Cincinnati and Texas A&M are both not playing this weekend and both of those teams are also competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff, a game against either of those schools would be great fun ... but I highly doubt that will happen. I don't see the league suddenly doing an about face on that rule when it denied Nebraska's request to play a non-conference game in Week 2.

The Big Ten Must Put Ohio State in a Position to Make the College Football Playoff

All I know is we saw last week how quickly the BYU-Coastal Carolina game came together. It may be a logistical nightmare if it happens late in the week, but it is possible to schedule a game at the last minute. The league needs to consider all options here. Tim May from Lettermen Row says he is hearing the Buckeyes are actively looking for a game this weekend.

What is more likely to be discussed if the Buckeyes can't get a game this weekend is the six-game rule. Right now, the Buckeyes will not have played enough games to qualify for the conference championship game. But I think changing that rule is very much on the table.

The Big Ten issued a press release just before 3:30 Eastern Time, which closed by saying the following:

"The conference is committed to transparency and will continue to collaborate with its member institution stakeholders to determine Big Ten Football Championship Game participation requirements as well as tiebreakers."

It's absolutely in the best interest of the league to have it's best team playing for a conference title game and to have a shot at earning a College Football Playoff bid. Especially in a year where revenue is down across the board, the income associated with a team playing in the CFP is substantial and the conference has to do whatever it can to best position it's best candidate to make that playoff.

One way or another, I would be stunned if Ohio State is not playing for a conference championship on Dec. 19. But how they get there remains to be seen.


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