Michigan cancels game against Ohio State

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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NILES — Just when it looked like COVID-19 would not play a key factor in the Big Ten Championship game, Michigan announced Tuesday that it has to cancel its annual rivalry game against Ohio State on Saturday.

“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” said Warde Manuel, U-M’s director of athletics. “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.”

Northwestern (5-1) locked up a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game as the winner of the West Division. The Wildcats will be playing for the league title for the second team, the last of which came in 2018.

Josh Priebe

Ohio State (5-0) won the East Division champion, but it is unclear if the Buckeyes will be able to play in the Big Ten Championship Game as it did not meet the league’s minimum requirement of playing six games. Indiana currently stands in second place with a 6-1 record. The Hoosiers could represent the East Division the league upholds its requirement of six games.

Michigan was also forced to cancel its final home game against Maryland last Saturday due to COVID-related issues.

Here are some other Big Ten Conference notes heading into the final week:

  • The 2020 Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played at noon on Saturday, Dec. 19, and will be televised nationally on FOX. The winner will earn the Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy and a chance to play in one of the six bowls that comprise the College Football Playoff, including the Rose Bowl Game.
  • Former Edwardsburg standout Josh Priebe appeared in five games for the Wildcats this season as a freshman.
  • Ohio State continues to boast one of the best offenses in the country, ranking fourth nationally in scoring offense (46.6) and sixth in total offense (532.4). Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields accounted for 303 yards of total offense and four total touchdowns on Saturday, including a career-high 104 on the ground with two touchdowns. He also completed 17 of 24 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions while directing an offense that finished with 521 total yards on the day.
  • Fields leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency (196.1), passing yards per game (281.4), completion percentage (78.1) and yards per attempt (10.3). In five games, he’s thrown 15 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. Fields is also on pace to set single-season FBS and Big Ten records for completion percentage.
  • The Hoosier defense was paramount on Saturday, leading Indiana to a 14-6 victory at No. 16 Wisconsin. It marked the program’s first win in Madison since 2001 and its first Big Ten road victory against a ranked team since Nov. 10, 2001 (No. 22 Michigan State). Indiana tied a program record on Saturday by earning its sixth Big Ten win of the season, joining the 1967 and 1987 teams.
  • Indiana linebacker Micah McFadden paced the Hoosiers with nine tackles and a pair of sacks, the second time in four weeks he has recorded multiple sacks. His second sack came with the Badgers facing a second-and-6 at the IU 17-yard line on their final drive. McFadden paces the team with 52 stops (10th in the Big Ten), 39 solos (2nd), five sacks (T-2nd) and 8.5 tackles for loss (T-3rd) to go along with two interceptions (T-7th) and three quarterback hurries.
  • Penn State’s Joey Porter tallied a career-high seven tackles, including five solo stops, in Penn State’s 23-7 win at Rutgers on Saturday. The freshman matched a career best with an unassisted tackle for loss as Penn State held Rutgers to a season-low in points and recorded the program’s 900th all-time win.