Sources: Ohio State dealing with COVID issues, still plans to play in CFP title game on Jan. 11

Pete Thamel

In a college football season defined by disruption, chaos and fluid dates of games, the culmination of the season remains on track.

After reports emerged Tuesday that the College Football Playoff title game could be moved because of COVID-19 issues at Ohio State, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that the Buckeyes have no plans to move back the title game.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told Yahoo Sports: “We are on track to play.” He added in a statement: “We continue to follow the same protocols as we have all season. We plan to play January 11th.”

A source with direct knowledge of the decision on the title game told Yahoo Sports there’s a confidence behind the scenes at Ohio State that it’ll be ready to play Monday. The source acknowledged that Ohio State has endured some COVID-19 issues this week and will be missing players for the title game, but stressed that it wasn’t an extraordinary amount that would necessitate the game being postponed.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day walks on the sideline before the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson on Jan. 1. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Ohio State coach Ryan Day walks on the sideline before the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson on Jan. 1. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ohio State has dealt with COVID-19 issues all season. And while there’s always the possibility of an additional outbreak in these uncertain times, sources stressed the unlikelihood of the game being moved. Big Ten teams are required to pause for seven days if 5% of the roster or 7.5% of the traveling party (coaches, staff, etc.) has tested positive for the virus.

Ohio State has missed players and coaches all season because of COVID-related issues. Coach Ryan Day tested positive and missed the game at Michigan State earlier this season, a game played without three starting offensive linemen and a slew of other key contributors. Ohio State has had three games canceled on the season, including a game against Illinois because of a COVID-19 outbreak at Ohio State.

Ohio State has gone stretches without significant personnel, and that appears to be inevitable against Alabama on Monday. Against Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Friday, Ohio State played without three key linemen: starting guard Harry Miller and defensive ends Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday.

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