Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde and ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg have reported that the Big Ten is amending a previously announced rule that mandated schools must complete a minimum of six contests during the pandemic-shortened campaign to be eligible for the league title game. The news comes one day after Ohio State, at 5-0 overall and ranked No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, had its upcoming showdown with the rival Michigan Wolverines canceled due to COVID-19 issues impacting Michigan.
That was Ohio State’s third coronavirus-related cancellation of the fall and the second that involved an opponent of the Buckeyes being unable to safely field a team. After Michigan-Ohio State was scrapped, reports surfaced that Big Ten athletic directors could change or erase the six-game threshold to allow what is widely believed to be the league’s best team to compete in the conference title game.
While Ohio State will be crowned winners of the Big Ten East, Northwestern (5-1) will represent the West regardless of what happens in Saturday’s game versus the Illinois Fighting Illini since the Wildcats hold a tiebreaker advantage over the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2).
Northwestern defeated Iowa 21-20 on Oct. 31.
“If two or more teams have the same number of conference losses but a different number of wins, head-to-head results take precedence over winning percentage,” Mike Hlas explained for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.