Northwestern's Ryan Field. (Google Maps)

The strangest of all college football seasons just got stranger. The Michigan-Ohio State game, scheduled for this Saturday, has been cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Wolverines.

That’s not the strange part. Other games have been called off this year due to teams not having enough healthy players.

The strange part is that even though Ohio State is undefeated, as of now it is ineligible to play Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game. That’s because in this COVID-abbreviated season, Ohio State has only played five games. Six games are required in order to qualify for the championship contest. (OSU has already had two cancellations. The Michigan game, last on the regular season schedule, is the third).

So now, the 5-1 NU Wildcats, West Division winners, are slated to play the 6-1 Indiana Hoosiers of the East Division in the championship game later this month.

However, there is a chance that the Big Ten will bend over backwards to get the Big Bad Buckeyes into the championship anyway. ESPN reports the Big Ten athletic directors are expected to meet Wednesday, and consider changing the six-game requirement to five. Another option: if there is a different cancellation on Saturday, OSU could play the non-infected team and get to six games that way.

A spokesperson for the NU football program tells Evanston Now they are focused only on beating Illinois this Saturday.

But it is interesting to look ahead. The oddsmakers would no doubt give Northwestern a much better chance against Indiana than they would against Ohio State.

At least the Wildcats can indeed concentrate on Illinois for now, because they’re going to the Big Ten championship game against … somebody.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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