No. 4 Ohio State, Michigan State hope to play
Michigan State is well into preparation against an opponent that might not be able to play Saturday when the Spartans are scheduled to host the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes in East Lansing, Mich.
Ohio State (4-0 Big Ten and overall) canceled its game at Illinois last Saturday because of a COVID-19 outbreak of unknown extent among the players, coaches and support staff, including head coach Ryan Day.
Ohio State needs to play Saturday and Dec. 12 at home against Michigan to meet the minimum six games to be eligible for the conference title game after the Buckeyes’ game Nov. 14 at Maryland was canceled because of numerous positive tests for coronavirus in the Terrapins’ program.
“What I can say is that we are focused on preparing for Ohio State, because that’s what we can control,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “And we don’t have any information that would tell us not to do that. So that’s where my focus is, and that’s where our focus has got to stay.”
Ohio State announced that organized team activities resumed Tuesday afternoon “in preparation for its game Saturday.”
However, the results of daily COVID testing will determine whether the Buckeyes will play Saturday or pause again.
Day said at a press conference last weekend that if the team gets one full practice it should be ready.
“I think you could get it done by practicing Thursday, making sure you have a good hard practice Thursday, and then a walk-through on Friday and play on Saturday,” Day said. “But we’ll just have to take it day by day and see how it goes.”
There has been no further media availability for Day or the team since Saturday.
Day is in quarantining and will not coach Saturday. Associate head coach and defensive line coach Larry Johnson will be the interim head coach in his absence, but Tucker doesn’t see the Buckeyes at a disadvantage.
“They’ve got a good staff over there, a great staff, and they’ve got great players,” he said. “So, I would imagine that they’re going to be probably a better version of what we’ve seen on film.”
Michigan State (2-3, 2-3) also had its Nov. 21 game vs. Maryland canceled for the same reason. The Spartans returned last Saturday to upset unbeaten Northwestern 29-20 and hope to carry that momentum into the meeting with the Buckeyes.
The Spartans’ anemic run game, which gained 60 or fewer yards in each of their losses, had 195 yards on 47 carries (4.1 average) vs. the Wildcats. Connor Heyward led with 96 yards on 24 attempts. He is the brother of former Ohio State and current Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward.
Assuming he is not among those testing positive, Ohio State’s Justin Fields will look to rebound after throwing his first three interceptions of the season against Indiana on Nov. 21.
He’ll need to be aware of Shakur Brown, who had two interceptions against Northwestern to give him five for the season.
–Field Level Media