COLUMBUS -- COVID-19 has recorded another Ohio casualty -- the tradition of Ohio State and Michigan ending the regular season football schedule against each other.
When the Big Ten announced its new schedule on Wednesdsay morning, it had the Wolverines playing in Ohio Stadium on Oct. 24.
The Big Ten has limited conference members to 10 games this season, all of them in the league. The Buckeyes will begin play on Sept. 3 at Illinois. A couple of bye weeks are built in to be used as buffers should games be postponed (as has happened in Major League Baseball).
But the biggest news was The Game won't be the climax to the regular season.
“It’s heartbreaking to be honest with you, but adaptability, sacrifice are all gonna be critical on everyone’s part,” former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said on the Big Ten Network’s schedule release show Wednesday.
This will be the first time since the national championship season of 1942 that Michigan will not be Ohio State’s final regular season opponent. Ohio State played Michigan on Nov. 21 in 1942 and closed the 9-1 campaign one week later against the Iowa Seahawks. Since then, the two schools had met in the team’s final regular season game for 77 consecutive years. The Wolverines did play at Hawaii to end their regular season in 1998.
Conceivably, The Game could be moved to a night contest for the first time ever -- although if fans are unable to attend (as is the case today) making it a night game would probably enhance how empty Ohio Stadium would feel.
Also, The Game could end up being moved as the season unfolds should health officials deem it necessary.
Each conference school has five home and five road games.
“This is not a final decision that there will be an athletics season; it is the next phase in our responsible planning process with the Big Ten Conference to be prepared if we are able to have an athletics season,” Ohio State Athletics Director Gene Smith said. “The final decision will be made in the coming weeks in consultation with local, state and federal authorities.”
So while we don't know the times the games will be played, if the dates will be changed again, or even if the season will be started let alone completed, the schedule does give fans something to weigh.
Here's the Buckeyes' slate as released on Wednesday morning:
Thursday, Sept. 3 at Illinois
Saturday, Sept. 12 vs. Rutgers
Saturday, Sept. 19 at Purdue
Saturday, Sept. 26 vs. indiana
Saturday, Oct. 3 BYE
Saturday, Oct. 10 vs. Nebraska
Saturday, Oct. 17 at Michigan State
Saturday, Oct. 24 vs. Michigan
Saturday, Oct. 31 at Maryland
Saturday, Nov. 7 at Penn State
Saturday, Nov. 14 BYE
Saturday, Nov. 21 Iowa
*Flexible scheduling for Nov. 28 and Dec. 19