No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State are scheduled to play in the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium.
There is a possibility, however, that the game could be postponed until Jan. 18. AL.com reported the game could be pushed back to Jan. 18 because of player availability concerns with Ohio State.
From @mzenitz and me, per sources: There are COVID-19 issues at Ohio State that have led to discussions about possibly having to push back the national title game to a later date https://t.co/8F7GiP7b7o
— John Talty (@JTalty) January 5, 2021
Stadium’s Brett McMurphy also reported the game could be postponed:
Because of COVID issues at Ohio State, there has been discussions about postponing @CFBPlayoff title game to Jan. 18, sources told @Stadium. 1st reported by @JTalty & @mzenitz. The game – for now – remains scheduled for Monday night
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) January 5, 2021
Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that, as of now, Ohio State is planning on playing the game Monday. Alabama, Ohio State and the SEC reportedly are all pushing for the game to be played, but Big Ten officials reportedly have raised concerned about the Buckeyes participating under the circumstances.
Sources: As of right now, Ohio State planning on playing in the title game as scheduled on Jan. 11. All systems are go for that. There’s been COVID-19 issues at OSU, but not enough to postpone the game. This is obviously COVID-19 times, and things can change.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 5, 2021
Following up on the Ohio State COVID issue. I’m told Alabama and the SEC are pushing hard to play the game…Ohio State is too. But the Big Ten office is pushing to postpone.
— Chris Breece (@ChrisBreece) January 5, 2021
Will that lead to one last disruption in a college football season impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?
The Buckeyes had three games canceled this season because of COVID-19 issues, though two of those games were canceled by their opponents in Maryland and Michigan.
A total of 23 Ohio State players missed the Michigan State game on Dec. 5. The Buckeyes did not play against Michigan the following week. Head coach Ryan Day also tested positive for COVID-19 during the regular season.
It’s been an ongoing roster battle for Ohio State this season in a state that ranks sixth in the United States in confirmed cases. AL.com reported “Ohio State has informed key parties involved it could be without a position group due to COVID-19 testing and related protocols.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban missed the Iron Bowl this season after testing positive for COVID-19, but the Crimson Tide played all 10 of their regular-season games before the SEC championship game and CFP semifinal.
Jan. 18 a possibility
The CFP committee can push the game back a week to Jan. 18, and the schools, SEC and Big Ten will be involved in that decision. With the game less than a week away, that decision should come soon.