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Ohio State to play Northwestern in Big Ten title game after rule change

Ohio State to play Northwestern in Big Ten title game after rule change
Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields (1) and the Buckeyes will now play Northwestern on Dec. 19 in the Big Ten title game. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The Big Ten voted Wednesday to eliminate its policy that teams must play at least six games to qualify for the conference championship game, meaning undefeated Ohio State will play Northwestern on Dec. 19.

The conference announced the decision shortly after its administrative council -- made up of all athletic directors and senior women administrators -- completed the vote to remove the minimum-game requirement. The decision was made in collaboration with the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and the conference office.

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"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 conference said in a statement.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes' place in the postseason landscape became a major question Tuesday after Michigan canceled the teams' regular-season finale due to COVID-19 issues within the Wolverines' football program. It marked the third cancellation for Ohio State this season, leaving the program at only five games played.

Ohio State (5-0) will represent the East Division in the Big Ten title game, while the Northwestern Wildcats (5-1) will represent the West Division.

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The Buckeyes sit behind No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Notre Dame and the third-ranked Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff rankings. The latest CFP rankings were released Tuesday night.

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