Colorado is not playing for first place in the Pac-12 South this weekend.
However, the Buffalo are scheduled to play.
On Thursday evening, the Pac-12 conference announced that Saturday’s game between Colorado and Southern California at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been canceled due to COVID-19 cases at USC.
Colorado will instead host the state of San Diego at Folsom Field Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 network. Earlier this week, San Diego State had canceled its game against Fresno State.
When COVID-19 issues were announced at USC Tuesday, CU athletics director Rick George contacted San Diego state athletics director John David Wicker and coordinated an emergency plan.
“It’s a shame our Southern California game had to be canceled, but as we all continue to insist, the main concern we all have is the health and safety of our student athletes, coaches and staff,” George said in a press release Thursday evening. “After the Pac-12 CEOs set out some requirements for potential non-conference opponents to fill vacancies created by cancellations, we started looking for a potential adversary to replace the Trojans earlier this week. When the San Diego State game at Fresno State was canceled for similar reasons, I spoke to John and we made an agreement if USC couldn’t play. “
CU (2-0) and 19th-ranked USC (3-0) were to meet on Saturday in Los Angeles with first-place finish in the Pac-12 South division on the line. However, this week USC announced that two players tested positive for COVID-19, one with symptoms and five other players in quarantine. On Thursday, USC announced that an additional player was showing symptoms. Shortly afterwards, the game was canceled.
“This decision was made under the Pac-12 football policy because USC did not have the minimum number of stock market players available for the match on a specific position group due to a number of positive football student-athlete COVID-19 cases and isolation from additional football student-athletes under protocols for contact tracing, ”the Pac-12 said in a press release. “The game is classified as a non-competition under conference policy.”
This is the second consecutive week that CU has canceled a game. The Buffs were scheduled to host Arizona State last Saturday, but COVID-19 problems at ASU meant the Sun Devils canceled the game.
On November 19, the Pac-12 announced that it would give its teams flexibility to try and find non-conference opponents if games were canceled. CU couldn’t find an opponent last week because the Pac-12’s decision came too late in the week.
The Pac-12 criteria for scheduling a non-conference game requires the opponent outside of the conference to follow the Pac-12 testing protocols. The Pac-12 administers antigen tests to players and staff six days a week, in addition to at least one PCR test, which is more sensitive.
The Mountain West Conference teams perform three PCR tests per week. A BuffZone.com source at an MWC school last week said that short-term Pac-12 testing would be “difficult but not impossible”.
Pac-12 criteria also require non-conference games to be played in Pac-12 stadiums and broadcast by Pac-12 television partners. Those partners, Fox, ESPN and ABC, apparently passed on the Buffs and Aztecs. Saturday’s game will be the first broadcast of this season on the Pac-12 Network.
When COVID-19 issues surfaced at USC earlier this week, there were reports that CU and San Diego State could meet. Asked about that possibility on Wednesday, CU head coach Karl Dorrell said the Buffs had not prepared for the state of San Diego because they were focused on USC.
“(If USC can’t play), then we have to move on with another opponent,” Dorrell said. “We haven’t had the chance to really look at anyone other than (USC). When that changes, we go into overdrive and try to pick up the pieces we need to do to prepare for another team. “
Now that team is San Diego State, which would play in Fresno on Friday. COVID-19 issues at Fresno State caused this to be canceled.
San Jose Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reported that the state of San Diego has been preparing for a possible match with the Buffs for days.
CU and San Diego State have played before. The Buffs defeated the Aztecs, 34-14, on September 7, 2002 at Folsom Field.
For the first three weeks of the season, the Pac-12 had canceled two of the six games every week. Three games have been canceled this week. In addition to CU at USC, Washington in Washington state and ASU in Utah were canceled.
Utah and Washington were able to adjust and schedule a game for Saturday in Seattle.
CU plays the first non-conference game of the season in the Pac-12.