For the first time since 1942, Ohio State is likely to conclude its regular season by playing a team other than Michigan.
A Big Ten source told The Dispatch that the game against Michigan will probably be played earlier in the season as a hedge against the COVID-19 pandemic causing a cancellation in late November.
If the game is scheduled in September or October and the coronavirus situation forces a postponement, it could then be played at a later date.
The source stressed that no final decisions about scheduling have been made, and that the situation is fluid, but that moving the game is the most likely scenario at this point.
If that happens, it is unlikely that Ohio State would play Michigan in the season opener.
The Big Ten schedule is expected to be announced next week. The conference announced this month that its teams would play a conference-only schedule. The expectation is that teams will play 10 games with two open dates.
In an email to the conference’s athletic directors on Thursday, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren wrote, "While we remain hopeful for a start in September 2020, flexibility has been created within our scheduling models to accommodate necessary adjustments. Consistent with our collective need to be adaptable to changes in circumstances and evolving medical knowledge, even issuing a schedule does not guarantee that competition will occur."
Warren said that he anticipates making a decision about allowing programs to proceed with preseason camps within five days. They are scheduled to start Aug. 7 .
Ohio State and Michigan began the tradition of ending the Big Ten season against each other in 1935. The only time the Buckeyes didn’t end their season against the Wolverines came in 1942 during World War II, when Ohio State played the Iowa Seahawks, a team that represented the U.S. Navy’s pre-flight aviation training school.
The last time Ohio State and Michigan didn’t play in November was in 1933, when they met on Oct. 21.