Michigan State football-Maryland redux is now cancellation deja vu.
Saturday’s Big Ten Champions Week game between the Spartans and Terrapins is off for the second time in a month, again because of COVID-19-related issues within Maryland’s program. The Terps have paused all team activities, and the game will not be scheduled a third time.
“We have battled two opponents each week: the team we matched up with on the field and COVID,” Maryland coach Michael Locksley said in a statement. “Together, we experienced tremendous highs and we are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to test ourselves on the field against Michigan State.”
The two teams were originally scheduled to meet Nov. 21 before that matchup was postponed. Those were the only two games this season disrupted by COVID-19 for the Spartans (2-5).
It is unclear if MSU will attempt to find another opponent. If not, the Spartans wait to see if they receive a bid to one of the dwindling number of bowl games. The NCAA waived win requirements this season due to the pandemic and cancellations. Coach Mel Tucker said Tuesday he would want his first-year program to play in a bowl if possible.
“If we were asked to play, I would love to play,” he said. “I want to play, I want to practice, I want to compete. I want to get more practice time with our guys and keep developing our guys, just seeing how far we can take this team and what this team can become before we turn the page to our offseason conditioning program and then lead them to spring ball and things like that. I want to play as much as possible.”
“I’m used to coaching a lot more football and used to playing a lot more games than this. Shoot, if we can get we get anything going, I’d love to play, man. If we can a pickup game going unofficially somewhere, I’d do that. We need to play football.”
If the Spartans are done playing in 2020, their two-win, pandemic-shortened season would be the fewest victories since Muddy Waters went 2-9 in 1982. MSU has won two or fewer games just five times in program history, four of those coming between 1896 when the program began and 1917. Mark Dantonio (2016), George Perles (1991) and Duffy Daugherty (three times) all had three-win seasons.
It is the third game scheduled for Big Ten champions week that has been wiped out due to COVID issues, the most in a week this season. Michigan’s game with Iowa was called off due to continuing issues within the Wolverines’ football program, and the Indiana-Purdue game was called off for the second straight week under a mutual agreement because of virus concerns for both teams.
Contact Chris Solari: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.
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