The annual rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State has been canceled, and the Buckeyes' place in the College Football Playoff picture is in jeopardy as well.
Michigan announced on Tuesday that the game is a scratch due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases and in the number of Wolverines student-athletes in quarantine, with the decision being made after consultations with medical experts, health department officials and school administration.
"The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. "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."
The rivals have played every year since 1918. Michigan (2-4) canceled its game against Maryland last week, also due to COVID-19 cases. Saturday's game was to have been the final regular-season contest for both schools.
Ohio State (5-0) needs to play one more game to meet the Big Ten Conference's minimum requirement of six games to reach the Big Ten Championship Game, which is scheduled for Dec. 19 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. If the Buckeyes are unable to secure a hastily scheduled sixth game this weekend, and sit out the Big Ten title game, their resume for a College Football Playoff bid could fall short. The Buckeyes are currently ranked fourth in the CFP rankings for a four-team playoff field, behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson. If they are off the field for the next two weeks, however, they could be passed over by the CFP selection committee for another school.
Ohio State's most impressive win this season came against Indiana on Nov. 21. Barring a change to the aforementioned six-game minimum requirement, the Hoosiers (6-1) could be in line to represent the league's East Division in the conference title game.