The Michigan Wolverines generated headlines and likely raised eyes within the Ohio State Buckeyes when they canceled Saturday's game against the Maryland Terrapins and paused team activities because of positive COVID-19 test results and subsequent quarantines.
It's still early, but there is already doubt that Michigan will be able to travel to Columbus for a Dec. 12 showdown with its biggest rival.
On Friday, Chris Thomas and David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press reported that at least 12 members of Michigan's football team recently tested positive for the coronavirus, leading school athletic officials to feel "pessimistic" about the program's ability to safely field a squad at Ohio State on Dec. 12.
The report adds that some players attended "a number of small gatherings" to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday following the 27-17 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions last Saturday. Those gatherings are believed to be at least partially responsible for the spread of the virus among student-athletes.
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 4 and unbeaten across their only four contests, dealt with COVID-19 issues last week that resulted in the cancellation of a meeting with the Illinois Fighting Illini. Ohio State was cleared to travel for Saturday's matchup against the Michigan State Spartans, but that won't be enough for the College Football Playoff hopeful to reach the six-game threshold necessary to compete in the Big Ten Conference title game on Dec. 19 per a league rule announced before the start of the campaign.
The Big Ten could always amend or cancel that rule, or the conference could allow Ohio State to schedule a different opponent for Dec. 12 if Michigan can't play.
Earlier this week, the BYU Cougars and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers agreed to face each other on short notice after coronavirus-related setbacks caused the Liberty Flames to withdraw from playing Coastal Carolina.