COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Ryan Day says he liked how the Buckeyes responded to having last week’s game at Maryland abruptly cancelled because of eight positive tests for COVID-19 in the Terrapins football program.
But he won’t have a final verdict on that situation until he sees how No. 3 OSU (3-0) plays against No. 9 Indiana (4-0) on Saturday.
“They handled it really well. At first they were disappointed and angry but then we just went to work and kept going,” Day said on a Zoom call on Tuesday.
“We knew going into this something like this might happen. We’ve seen it happen across the country so we’re not the only ones. I thought they handled it well. I think they’ve handled a lot of things well, especially when you make so many sacrifices to do everything you can to be healthy to play and then you don’t have an opportunity to play a game.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow. I think they handled it very maturely,” he said.
Wisconsin canceled back-to-back games against Nebraska and Purdue because of COVID-19 but seemed totally unhindered by the layoff when it dominated Michigan 49-11 last Saturday night in its return from the time away.
Still, Day says he is going to worry until he sees OSU on the field Saturday afternoon.
“There is a lot of anxiety, for sure. We had a really good practice on Saturday, we had a really good practice yesterday (Monday). The response has been good, the pads have been clicking. I think that’s all really positive but we didn’t get to play,” he said.
“I think the hard part was Indiana had an opportunity to play and now they’ve played four straight weeks, they’ve got a little bit of rhythm going. And we didn’t. We tried to do the best we can here in house to replicate games. We tried to replicate it the best we could. There is no way to replace playing in games.”
Day said there were only two things that definitely were positive about not playing at Maryland.
“You don’t typically acquire as many injuries coming out of practice as you would in a game. That and you limit your exposure (to the COVID-19 pandemic) being here as opposed to traveling. Those are the only two positives I can think of,” he said.
Indiana has not won a Big Ten football championship since 1967 and Ohio State hasn’t lost to the Hoosiers since 1988 so this might be the first time tiebreakers between the Buckeyes and Hoosiers have ever needed to be discussed.
Some things to consider if a tiebreaker is needed to determine who will represent the Big Ten East in the conference championship game:
— If Ohio State wins Saturday and wins the rest of its games, it will be the champion of the East.
— If Ohio State wins Saturday but loses one of its last three games to finish 6-1, it would still have a tiebreaker advantage over Indiana.
— If Indiana wins Saturday, Ohio State would need the Hoosiers to lose two of their next three games against Maryland, Wisconsin and Purdue. That would have been the same if OSU had played Maryland and won the game.
— Maryland, with a 2-1 record, is still in the East picture. If Indiana beats OSU and Maryland beats Indiana and all three finish with one loss, Indiana would go to the Big Ten championship game. If Ohio State and Maryland would finish with one loss and Indiana has two losses, Maryland would win the tiebreaker with a better record inside the East Division.
— Teams must play six games to be eligible to play in the Big Ten championship game.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau