Superfan Big Nut calls cancellation of OSU-Michigan rivalry game 'heartbreaking'

Craig Shoup
Fremont News-Messenger

FREMONT - Ohio State superfan Jon "Big Nut" Peters said it was "heartbreaking" to hear Tuesday that Saturday's game between Ohio State and Michigan had been canceled.

Like many fans, players and coaches, Peters was crushed when he learned the two rivals who play in what is simply called "The Game" would not meet on the football field for the first time in more than 100 years.

Ohio State super fan Jon Peters of Fremont has been dressing as "Big Nut" since 2003.

"It's totally disappointing," Peters said Tuesday. "This is the game of games, of all games. There's not a better rivalry in college football."

More:'Big Nut' represents Ohio State in ESPN football commercial

But 2020 has been a year of disappointments and change. The Wolverine football program had as many as 40 players who would not be able to play Saturday due to COVID-19 protocol, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“The number of positive tests has continued to trend in an upward direction over the last seven days,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel in a released statement. “We have not been cleared to participate in practice at this time. Unfortunately, we will not be able to field a team due to COVID-19 positives and the associated quarantining required of close-contact individuals. This decision is disappointing for our team and coaches but their health and safety is paramount, and it will always come first in our decision-making.”

More:Ohio State super fan always concerned when entering Michigan's 'Big House'

Peters said the Big Ten Conference is to blame for the game being canceled, just five days before the long-time rivals were to kick off.

"This a reflection on the new commissioner and the Big Ten dropping the ball," Peters said. "They dropped the ball, because I've said all along that when they decided to bring the Big Ten back, I really felt like this should have been the first game on the team's schedule."

Jon "Big Nut" Peters signs documents to set up a scholarship for Sandusky County students to attend the Ohio State University.

Saturday's cancellation is the first break in the series since the teams did not play between 1913-1917, according to National Collegiate Athletic Association records.

Had the game been played Saturday with no fans due to COVID-19 restrictions, it would have been the first game home or away in the rivalry that Peters was not in the stands since 1999, he said.

More:'Big Nut' gives big bucks to Buckeyes

The game meant more to Peters, fans of the two teams and players as the week leading up to "The Game" had so much pomp and circumstance, Peters said.

"It's hard to go and skip a year like this. It's going to be tough, not just for Wolverine and Buckeye fans, but for all the fans that appreciate college football," he added.

The cancellation is especially wrenching to Buckeye fans right now, because the game against Michigan would have allowed the Buckeyes to play the required six-game schedule to qualify for next week's conference championship game.

Peters said he hopes that either the Buckeyes can either find another game to schedule for this weekend or the conference decides to be more flexible with allowing teams who have not played the required six games to compete for the conference title, knowing Ohio State is the best team in the Big Ten.

That decision, Peters said, should be made based on the image of the conference and the Big Ten wanting the best team representing it in a conference championship game.

Were Ohio State to play a conference championship and remain undefeated, the team would have a great chance of making the college football playoffs, which pits four teams selected by a committee to play for the top prize in college football.

Peters said the conference can be flexible, having canceled the season earlier in the summer and saying it would not revisit starting a season in the fall, only to change course after several other conference committed to playing a fall season.

"I think they can change this rule now and be a little more flexible, because it is not Ohio State's fault. They should not punish those kids," Peters said.

Reporters Orion Sang and David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press contributed to this story.


Twitter: @CraigShoupNH