Another Pac-12 matchup went by the wayside on Thursday evening. According to Jon Wilner of Mercury News, the USC-Colorado game was canceled.
However, not all hope is lost for one team. Colorado will replace USC with San Diego State of the Mountain West on Saturday. The Buffaloes will be the first Pac-12 team to face a non-conference opponent in 2020.
The Pac-12 released a statement regarding the decision to cancel the game between USC and Colorado.
“After consultation with USC, the Pac-12 Conference announced the game involving Colorado at USC scheduled for Saturday, November 28 will not be played,” the statement read. “This decision was made under the Pac-12’s football policy due to USC not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game at a specific position group as a result of a number of positive student-athlete COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of additional football student-athletes under contact tracing protocols. Under Conference policy, the game will be declared a no contest.
“Not contesting this game is very disappointing to our student-athletes and our fans. While all of us want to see our football student-athletes on the field competing, our number one priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected to Pac-12 football programs.”
USC coach Clay Helton released the following statement as well:
“We are disappointed for our players and fans and those from Colorado that Saturday’s game will not be played, but the health and safety of everyone in both programs is of the utmost priority. Our players have worked hard since the summer not only to prepare for this season, but to do so in a safe manner by following all health protocols. I applaud their discipline and sacrifice in doing so. We will continue to test and monitor our players, coaches and staff and take guidance from health officials as we prepare for our remaining games.”
Earlier on Thursday, Wilner reported the initial plan of Colorado to play San Diego State in the event of the Trojans being unable to play due to COVID-19.
“Source: Colorado will play SDSU on Saturday if USC game canceled,” Wilner tweeted. “Buffs are healthy and don’t want to be idle a second consecutive week. Aztecs have been prepping for days.”
Before going virtual on Thursday, USC was forced to move to a virtual practice on Tuesday after the team announced its first positive COVID-19 test that morning. The team returned to the practice field on Wednesday after the team identified another positive player (who was put in isolation) and quarantined five more players per contact tracing protocols.
During his Thursday morning press conference, USC head coach Clay Helton spoke of the tension of trying to make it through the week to preserve the chance to play this weekend.
“You’re always fearful and still fearful today. We don’t have a crystal ball for this thing. You really don’t. And, you know, you kind of hold your breath with each, I mean it’s been this way since July 6th. Honestly, you hold your breathe with the results of the testing on each day. And hopefully get to that point, especially as it gets right to the end of the week, because by the time you hit Friday and Saturday, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, please don’t have one.’ And we’ve been fortunate through the first three games.
“And so hopefully this Thursday and Friday, leading into Saturday’s game day testing, we stay healthy and safe and clean on all the testing that gives us the next opportunity. But to say that there’s not tension each and every day would be false.”
This week, the Pac-12 already postponed the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State this weekend. The reason was due to the lack of scholarship players available for Washington State to play the game.
So far, eight Pac-12 games were canceled this season. The conference saw at least two games canceled in each of the first three weeks.