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Alabama, Ohio State national title tilt still on as scheduled

Saban says postponing game would cause 'difficult management issues'
Ohio State Buckeyes QB Justin Fields and head coach Ryan Day after winning College Football Playoff semifinal at Sugar Bowl
Posted at 10:41 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 22:41:14-05

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It's game on for the College Football Playoff National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium.

Despite coronavirus concerns involving Ohio State, the third-ranked Buckeyes remain on track to play Monday night against No. 1 Alabama.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said Thursday that his team is preparing to play in the national championship game as scheduled.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Ohio State had been in contact with playoff officials about possible player availability problems that could force the game to be delayed.

But Day told reporters that the Buckeyes have been beset by roster issues all season long, and this week is no different.

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"Well, any time you deal with that and you lose people, it is a gut punch," Day said. "But it's not something that we're not used to. We've played games with the majority of our offensive line out. We played the Big Ten (Conference) Championship game without our top receivers or some of our top receivers. We've had starters all over the place down at different times, and we've found ways to work through it. It's just been the way it is."

Day went on to say that his team is "going to have to figure it out, go down to Miami and play."

The College Football Playoff has said Jan. 18 would serve as a makeup date in the event that the game has to be rescheduled.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and team wait to take field before College Football Playoff semifinal at Rose Bowl
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his team wait to take the field against Notre Dame during the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

Saban admitted Thursday that "there were discussions as to whether it was fair to continue or to move the game back." But, he said, doing so would cause "difficult management issues."

Those concerns, Saban said, include Alabama students returning to school next week and the Jan. 18 deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft.

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"So just the whole timing of the whole thing would have been a tough management," Saban said.

Alabama is scheduled to arrive in South Florida on Friday night, while Ohio State is expected to arrive the next night.

Day said the Buckeyes will "have plenty of players," though he didn't specify a number.