Commissioner Larry Scott declared the Huskies and Trojans shall meet in Los Angeles Friday for the Pac-12 title game. Which doesn’t mean necessarily that it will happen.
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The twisting of the college-football pretzel by COVID-19 has come to this on the West Coast: By having its scheduled game Saturday in Eugene against Oregon canceled, the University of Washington (3-1) has won the North Division, and backed into the Pac-12 Conference game against South Division champ, and 16th-ranked, USC (5-0).
If the Huskies can field a team.
Which they couldn’t do Saturday. And will be hard-pressed to do by the 5 p.m. Friday kickoff at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
That was the plan announced by Commissioner Larry Scott Saturday night after the Trojans rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat UCLA, 43-38. The only other undefeated conference team heading into Saturday, Colorado, was blasted by Utah, 38-21, ending the Buffaloes’ hopes for an all-South title game.
In a high-falutin’ statement Saturday by Commissioner Larry Scott: “In a football season that has thrown unprecedented challenges and adversity at our football teams and student-athletes, USC and Washington have performed at the highest levels and earned their places in the 2020 Pac-12 Football Championship Game as the Pac-12 South and North Champions.”
The statement did not include any backup plan.
However, an ESPN story Saturday said if UW can’t go, second-place Oregon would take its place. And if USC is unable to play, Colorado would be the South rep. Apparently, Scott was too choked up to commit publicly to the obvious.
UW was said Thursday to be well below the mandatory minimum of 53 scholarship players, which also insists upon one quarterback, seven offensive linemen and four defensive linemen.
Since some of the players are likely to be in a 14-day quarantine for having close contact with infected players, the Huskies don’t seem likely to be able to reach the minimum in time for a Thursday flight. They cancelled practices Wednesday and Thursday when positive tests were reported, and have had none since.
The quarantine is required not by the Pac-12 but by King County public health officials, who have given no indication of shortening the time.
UW had already had two no-contests declared, Nov. 7 at Cal and Nov. 27 at Washington State. But the problems were at those campuses. UW was able to book Utah as a replacement game, and beat the Utes, 24-21 at Husky Stadium. As a result, the game at USC, should it happen, will be the Huskies’ lone road game.