On Wednesday, the Michigan Wolverines became the latest Big Ten team to be struck by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school announced its game against Maryland on Saturday has been canceled because of a rise in positive COVID-19 cases within the program.
Earlier this week, the team went virtual for all football activities. The decision to cancel the game, plus halt practices,was made after consulting medical professionals. Michigan will be able to resume practices when the medical professionals deem it safe enough to restart.
The earliest the team will be able to get back on the field is Monday.
"The decision by our medical professionals to stop practices and cancel this Saturday's game against Maryland was made with the health, safety and welfare of the student-athletes, coaches and staff as our utmost priority," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a media release. "We have seen an increase in the number of student-athletes unavailable to compete due to positive tests and associated contact tracing due to our most recent antigen and PCR testing results."
The matchup against Maryland was the team’s last scheduled game of the season in Michigan. The Wolverines lost all three home games, and failed to cover in each, marking the first time in program history Michigan has not recorded at least one home win.
The Wolverines have failed to cover in their last five games of the season, giving them a 1-5 record against the spread this year. Michigan’s only cover came in the 49-24 victory over Minnesota in the season-opener as the Wolverines entered as 3-point favorites. Since then, sports bettors suffered losses backing the Wolverines the rest of the season.
Michigan’s latest loss was a 27-17 defeat to a previously winless Penn State squad that got off to the worst start in school history. Michigan was gashed on the ground for 254 yards with Penn State averaging 5.1 yards per attempt.
Cade McNamara earned the start for Michigan at quarterback but was in and out with an apparent shoulder injury, forcing previous starter Joe Milton to lead the offense. Either way, the Wolverines offense was inept. The team completed 13 of 28 passes for only 112 yards and converted on only 4 of 12 third downs.
The rivalry showdown with Ohio State is Michigan’s last remaining game on its schedule. But with the current situation, there is no guarantee the game gets played.
If the game doesn’t happen, Ohio State would be under the minimum six games required by the Big Ten to take part in the Big Ten title game. The only exception is if the average number of games played by each team within the conference falls below six. Then, Ohio State would be eligible.
Fair or not, speculation about whether a struggling Michigan team will duck Ohio State is due to run rampant. Kirk Herbstreit already suggested the idea on ESPN, and the latest cancelation will only incite further belief that a lackluster Michigan squad could potentially not play Ohio State if it means the Buckeyes would miss out on playing for a Big Ten title.