Coronavirus: Ohio State-Illinois football game canceled due to spikes in COVID-19

Coronavirus: Ohio State-Illinois football game canceled due to spikes in COVID-19
Defensive back Shaun Wade (24) and his Ohio State teammates will not be celebrating Saturday, as the Buckeyes' game with Illinois was canceled. (Jay LaPrete/Associated Press)

Third-ranked Ohio State canceled Saturday’s college football game at Illinois due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Buckeyes’ program, university officials said Friday night.

The team has also paused all team-related activities indefinitely, the university said in a news release.

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This is the second time this season that Ohio State (4-0) has canceled a game, ESPN reported. The Buckeyes were unable to play at Maryland on Nov. 14 because of COVID-19 cases within the Terrapins’ program.

For Ohio State to compete in the Big Ten championship game, the Buckeyes must play -- and win -- their Dec. 5 game at Michigan State and at home Dec. 12 against Michigan, according to ESPN. Conference rules specify that teams must play at least six games in this truncated season to be eligible for the conference championship game, The Associated Press reported.

The decision to cancel and pause was made jointly by Director of Athletics Gene Smith, University President Kristina M. Johnson, and head team physician Jim Borchers after consulting with Big Ten Conference officials.

“We have continued to experience an increase in positive tests over the course of this week,” Smith said in a 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 cancellation came several hours after Ohio State announced that coach Ryan Day tested positive and would not travel to Champaign, Illinois, for the noon ET kickoff, the AP reported. Day is the 19th major-college football coach this year to publicly reveal testing positive for COVID-19.

“The program will resume its team activities when its medical staff determines it is safe to do so based on protocols established by the Big Ten Conference,” the university said.

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