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Ohio State says title game still on, despite COVID concerns


The Ohio State Buckeyes says it will face Alabama for the college football championship despite concerns of COVID-19 issues within its ranks. Published reports say the winners of this year’s Sugar Bowl semifinal against Clemson may not have enough key players to take the field at Hard Rock Stadium for Monday’s title game against the Tide. Ohio State has had problems with the coronavirus throughout the season going to the cancellation of its game against Illinois.

COVID has meant problems for Alabama as well. Head coach Nick Saban missed his first game in 47 years due to a positive coronavirus test. Alabama’s game against the Louisiana State University Tigers was postponed when LSU had too many players impacted by COVID to play against Alabama in November. Saban, back then, said the issue was keeping his team focused during the uncertainty of COVID.

“I think the players want to play. I think they want to create value in terms of how they improve as a team,” said Saban. “I also think there are a lot of individual players who want to create value for themselves. And, the only way they can do that is to play games.”

Another issue related to LSU’s postponement was that Alabama players were inactive for two weeks. The team had a scheduled “bye week” where they didn’t play. The Tiger’s absence meant another week off before Alabama faced the Kentucky Wildcats. Earlier, Saban says that created a challenge of its own.

“Physically we’ve been able to take care of our players, I think psychologically is the real challenge for them to stay focused on the things they need to do to improve and respond at a high level, especially when we’re basically halfway through the season,” Saban said.

For now, the championship game remains scheduled for Monday night at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, where former Tide players Tua Tagovailoa and Raekwon Davis play for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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