Ohio State on Friday night called off its football game scheduled for Saturday at Illinois after coronavirus testing revealed an increasing number of cases on the team. The cancellation was announced hours after the university revealed that Ryan Day, the head coach of the fourth-ranked Buckeyes, had tested positive and would not travel to the game.
“Further positive tests for the coronavirus were discovered after a round of PCR testing this afternoon,” the university said in a statement, without offering more details.
This is the second recent cancellation for Ohio State (4-0). It did not play its scheduled Nov. 14 game against Maryland, which suspended football activities that week because of an elevated number of coronavirus cases. The reduced schedule could imperil a shot at the Big Ten title and the national championship for the Buckeyes, who were fourth in the College Football Playoff initial ranking, released early this week.
“We have continued to experience an increase in positive tests over the course of this week,” Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said in the statement. “The health, safety and well-being of our student-athlete is our main concern, and our decisions on their welfare will continue to be guided by our medical staff.”
The Buckeyes have two games left on their schedule, against Michigan State on Dec. 5 and Michigan on Dec. 12. The Big 10 title game is scheduled for Dec. 19. Big Ten rules require teams to play at least six games in this abbreviated season to be eligible to play in the conference championship game, but the minimum could drop if the average number of games played by all Big Ten teams falls below six.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.