Another Week 10 game has been knocked off the schedule due to COVID-19.
The Pac-12 said Friday that Utah’s game against Arizona had been postponed due to COVID-19 cases at Utah. The conference is set to start the season on Saturday and is now down to four games after Cal’s game vs. Washington was canceled the day before.
The conference said that Utah would have been unable to play the game because it wouldn’t have enough scholarship players available due to COVID-19 positives and contact tracing. It’s the 10th game of the upcoming weekend that’s either been postponed or canceled.
“The cancellation of this game, following yesterday’s cancellation of the Washington at Cal football game, is of course incredibly disappointing for our student-athletes and our fans. At the same time it is an indication that our health and safety protocols are working in identifying positive cases and contact tracing cases. 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.”
The Pac-12’s first weekend of November start date was the latest for any conference at the top level of college football. While the conference had initially pushed the football season to the spring of 2021, it decided on a seven-week conference schedule starting in November after securing a daily rapid testing deal.
The daily rapid testing is designed to help stop outbreaks within teams. Cal said Thursday that it had just one player test positive and was unable to field a team because an entire position group had to quarantine due to contact tracing. So far, there have been no known large outbreaks among teams in the conference since daily testing began.
That’s a great thing. Minimizing the number of coronavirus cases on a football team is more important than a team playing all of its scheduled games.
But the two cancellations from the Pac-12’s first six games of the season show how little margin for error there is for teams trying to play football this fall. It’s hard to see how what’s happening already in the conference won’t continue throughout the season. Will any Pac-12 team get to play six games before the conference’s championship weekend on Dec. 19?
The week coronavirus came for college football
Postponed and canceled games have become a regular occurrence during the 2020 college football season. Over 30 games have been canceled or postponed through the first nine weekends of the season.
The pace has accelerated this week. And it’s hard not to notice how the rise in game cancellations and postponements has corresponded with the rise in daily coronavirus cases across the United States.
The 10 canceled or postponed games are the most of any weekend so far this season. While this is also the first weekend that every conference in the country had games scheduled, the Pac-12 is the only conference starting this weekend that’s seen game cancellations. The Mid-American Conference played its six games on Wednesday as scheduled.
Four of the games knocked off the Week 10 schedule have come from Conference USA, a conference that’s been trying to have its teams play throughout the entire season. And the country’s service academies have been affected too. Air Force’s Saturday game against Army was called off because of coronavirus cases at Air Force and Navy’s game against Tulsa was postponed because of cases at Navy.
Quite frankly, the college football landscape accurately reflects the American landscape right now. The coronavirus hasn’t gone anywhere. And it’s not disappearing anytime soon, either.
Since it isn’t we need to prepare for the increased frequency of postponements and cancellations ahead of the 10th Saturday of games to not be an aberration. Hopefully it is. But if cases continue to rise across the country as the weather gets colder, it’s hard to see how college football teams will somehow be spared.
List of postponed or canceled Week 10 games
Arizona at Utah
Middle Tennessee State at Charlotte
Washington at Cal
UTSA at Rice
Florida International at UTEP
Louisiana Tech at North Texas
Louisville at Virginia
Tulsa at Navy
Air Force at Army
Purdue at Wisconsin
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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