Ohio State set for Big Ten championship matchup against Northwestern


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – DECEMBER 07: Head coach Ryan Day and the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate after winning the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It’s on! Ohio State will play Northwestern in Big Ten championship game next week.

The Big Ten administrators council, which includes athletic directors and other officials from all 14 schools in the conference, voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to remove a six-game minimum requirement to be eligible for the game.

“The decision was based on a competitive analysis which determined that Ohio State would have advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game based on its undefeated record and head-to-head victory over Indiana regardless of a win or loss against Michigan,” the statement read.

The Buckeyes will represent the East Division and play West champion Northwestern at noon on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.

“I am appreciative of our Big Ten Conference colleagues for reconsidering the six-game requirement to qualify for the Big Ten championship game,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “A lot of changes have happened since that recommendation was put in place. I know making this decision was not easy, and I am thankful for the opportunity our players will now have to play in Indianapolis as an undefeated East Division champion.”

An Ohio State spokesperson said the Buckeyes will not play a game this week after Michigan canceled its game with OSU on Tuesday.

A Big Ten championship would only help the Buckeyes in their push to make the four-team College Football Playoff. They are currently ranked fourth. In addition, they are fourth in the coaches poll and third in the Associated Press Top 25 media poll.

This year will mark the fourth straight appearance in the conference championship game for the Buckeyes. They have won the past three.

Northwestern (5-1) is 14th in the playoff rankings. They are also 14th in the coaches poll and 15th in the AP Top 25.

Northwestern will wrap up its regular season Saturday against Illinois. The Wildcats started the season with five straight wins before falling on Nov. 28 to Michigan State. Their game last week against Minnesota was canceled because of COVID-19 cases in the Golden Gophers’ program.

The Wildcats and Buckeyes met in the Big Ten championship game in 2018, with Ohio State winning 45-24.

The conference passed on the option of finding a new opponent for Ohio State this week. But even if the Buckeyes had played and lost, they still would have been the winners of the East Division.

Making the conference championship will have to remove some of the sting for Ohio State from having its annual season-ending game against Michigan canceled. The Wolverines made the move based on positive COVID-19 cases in their program.

The rivals had met every year since 1918.

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