Big Ten removes minimum-game necessity; Ohio State will play for the title game against Northwestern

The Big Ten authoritatively changed its arrangement that teams should play six games to be qualified for the conference title game, which means undefeated No. 4 Ohio State will confront Northwestern on Dec. 19.

The conference made the declaration Wednesday after its authoritative committee, comprised of every athletic chief and senior ladies directors, casted a ballot to take out the base game prerequisite in a joint effort with the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors.

The Buckeyes’ spot in the postseason turned into an inquiry Tuesday when Michigan dropped the groups’ standard season competition game on account of COVID-19 issues inside the Wolverines program. It was the third dropped game for Ohio State this season, after others against Illinois and Maryland, and left the Buckeyes at only five games played by and large.

“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 conference said.

Ohio State mentor Ryan Day saluted Big Ten authorities for reevaluating the prerequisite.

“A lot of changes have happened since that recommendation was put in place,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Ohio State (5-0) beat Indiana 42-35 a month ago, giving the Hoosiers (6-1) what has ended up being their solitary misfortune.

“Coach [Tom] Allen and I are proud of this team and the success we have had so far this season,” Hoosiers athletic director Scott Dolson said in a statement. “We are one of only two teams in the country with three Top-25 victories and have matched a program record for Big Ten wins. Although we understand the conference’s decision, we are disappointed. From the start of the year, we have said we can only control what we can control. We had a chance to earn our spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, but ultimately fell a touchdown short on the road against a great Ohio State team. We look forward to resuming activities and completing one of the best seasons in our school’s history.”

Iowa athletic chief Gary Barta, who is likewise the administrator of the College Football Playoff choice panel, disclosed to ESPN he called Big Ten magistrate Kevin Warren before the athletic chiefs met on Wednesday morning to tell him he would recuse himself from the conversations and the democratic, yet he would join the videoconference to tune in.

“He wasn’t surprised,” Barta said of Warren. “I alerted him to the fact I absolutely was going to be on the call, but I wasn’t going to contribute to the discussion and I was going to recuse myself and the University of Iowa was going to recuse itself from the vote. I did want to listen, because as athletic director I did want to hear how the conversation went.”

Barta said he joined from the Dallas air terminal, as he was flying home from the third CFP rankings meeting in Grapevine, Texas. He said he needed to leave the call somewhat early, however “knew where it was headed” and had tuned in to practically every last bit of it. Every one of the 14 athletic chiefs and Warren were on the call, as indicated by Barta. He declined to state what the vote check was.

“It was very collaborative and I’ve always appreciated the way the Big Ten athletic directors work together and this was no exception to that,” he said. “At the end of the day, it was pointed out that if they had been able to play against Michigan, even if they would have lost, they had already clinched the top spot in the East, so real collaborative discussion and in the end it was voted that the six-game minimum be waived.”

Each group in the Big Ten will play an extra game the few days of Dec. 18-19, and Barta said the athletic chiefs likewise examined those matchups on Wednesday morning. He said they wouldn’t be resolved until after Saturday’s games.

“In normal circumstances, people would roll their eyes and say, ‘That’s crazy, you can’t turn it around that fast,'” he said, “but in COVID-19 pandemic time, the faster we can find out after the games are done Saturday the better. I know the Big Ten is going to work hard at getting them done as quickly as possible. I don’t have an exact time of when we’ll learn the matchups.”

Northwestern, at 5-1, will speak to the West Division in the title game.