Big Ten Bends Games Rule, Sends OSU to Title Game

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Five is enough. The Big Ten Conference has eliminated the six-game requirement it had established for teams to advance to play in its championship game Wednesday — the culmination of a conference season delayed and shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reported by Sports Illustrated, the rule change will allow No. 4 Ohio State to meet Northwestern on Dec. 19. Indiana would have faced the Wildcats if the Buckeyes had been deemed ineligible to play for the conference crown. In a head-to-head matchup, Ohio State defeated Indiana 42-35 on Nov. 21.

"The decision was based on a competitive analysis which determined that Ohio State would have advanced to the Big Ten Football Championship Game based on its undefeated record and head-to-head victory over Indiana regardless of a win or loss against Michigan," the Big Ten said in a statement. "As a result of the decision, Ohio State will represent the East Division in the 2020 Big Ten Football Championship game against Northwestern." The 14th-ranked Wildcats, who will represent the West Division, take a 5-1 record into Saturday's home finale against Illinois.

Ohio State leads the Big Ten East at 5–0, and was scheduled to face Michigan on Saturday, but a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Wolverines' program led to cancellation. This will be the first year without the rivals meeting on the football field since 1917.

"The conference continues to prioritize the health and safety of our student-athletes and remains flexible and united with its 14 member institutions and partners during these unprecedented times," the league statement concluded.

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