The Big Ten administrators council, which includes athletic directors and other officials from all 14 schools in the conference, voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to remove a six-game minimum requirement to be eligible for the game. The Buckeyes are 5-0.
“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 statement read.
The Buckeyes will represent the East Division and play West champion Northwestern at noon on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Indianapolis.
A Big Ten championship would only help the Buckeyes in their push to make the four-team College Football Playoff. They are currently ranked fourth. In addition, they are fourth in the coaches poll and third in the Associated Press Top 25 media poll.
This year will mark the fourth straight appearance in the conference championship game for the Buckeyes. They have won the past three.
Northwestern (5-1) is 14th in the playoff rankings. They are also 14th in the coaches poll and 15th in the AP Top 25.
Northwestern will wrap up its regular season Saturday against Illinois. The Wildcats started the season with five straight wins before falling on Nov. 28 to Michigan State. Their game last week against Minnesota was canceled because of COVID-19 cases in the Golden Gophers’ program.
The Wildcats and Buckeyes met in the Big Ten championship game in 2018, with Ohio State winning 45-24.
The conference passed on the option of finding a new opponent for Ohio State this week. But even if the Buckeyes had played and lost, they still would have been the winners of the East Division.
Making the conference championship will have to remove some of the sting for Ohio State from having its annual season-ending game against Michigan canceled. The Wolverines made the move Tuesday based on positive COVID-19 cases in their program.
The rivals had met every year since 1918.