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Ohio State vs Michigan canceled: ‘The Game’ called off due to Wolverines’ COVID-19 tests

Ohio State vs Michigan canceled
Ohio State Buckeyes receiver Chris Olave catches a touchdown against Michigan Wolverines safety Josh Metellus during the first half Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 at Michigan Stadium. Michigan Football

“The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan is one of college football’s greatest rivalries, but in 2020, the Buckeyes and Wolverines won’t square off in the annual Big Ten duel.

Michigan announced the decision to call the game off after its recent surge in positive COVID-19 tests.

College football news: Ohio State vs Michigan canceled

An official news release on MGoBlue.com confirmed the sad news for fans of the college gridiron, and featured remarks from Wolverines athletic director Warde Manuel:

“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days. 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.”

MGoBlue.com

Of course the safety of everyone involved during a global pandemic is a top priority, particularly as cases continue to surge nationwide. An already-shortened season just got shorter for both powerhouse football teams.

Related: Sportsnaut’s top 25 college football rankings

Ohio State vs Michigan canceled: What it means for both programs

Ohio State vs Michigan canceled: What does Jim Harbaugh's future hold?
Nov 30, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh during the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a wildly disappointing season for Michigan football as it is, because coach Jim Harbaugh’s team is 2-4 and probably would’ve fallen to 2-5 given how superior Ohio State is, having won 15 of the last 16 in this rivalry.

Sitting at below .500, this effectively brings an unceremonious end to the Wolverines’ season. They aren’t going to be bowl eligible with that record, and any pride that could’ve been had in playing spoiler to Ohio State is not to be.

Harbaugh is also reportedly drawing interest from five different NFL teams for impending head coach vacancies. Will the former Michigan signal-caller stick it out at his alma mater with a contract extension, or bolt back to the professional level for a change of scenery?

Absent the opportunity to enhance their College Football Playoff resume with a signature win in a rivalry game, though, the Buckeyes are hurting by not playing this game either. They’re ranked fourth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

Despite the fact that Ohio State will probably still win the Big Ten title, have they done enough — or more accurately, played enough — to merit a spot in the CFP top four?

Having played in five games to date, the Buckeyes blew out Nebraska and Michigan State, but nearly fell at home to Indiana and have looked flat for most of the 2020 campaign.