UCLA football is scheduled to finally kick off its first home game of a coronavirus-delayed and shortened season next Friday in the Rose Bowl after yesterday’s high-scoring 48-42 loss to Colorado, but suddenly it’s unclear if that game will go ahead as planned.
The Bruin’s scheduled opponent, the University of Utah Utes, abruptly canceled their game against Arizona on Saturday after a number of Utah players tested positive for COVID-19.
“Our test results included a number of positive cases, which put our team below the Pac-12’s minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes under the league’s game cancellation policy,” said Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan.
“We will continue to monitor our testing results and stay in close communication with our University, local public health officials and the Pac-12 Conference.”
Cancellation of the home opener in the Rose Bowl would be another disappointment for the Bruins after the season opener loss in Boulder last night.
The Bruins battled back from a 21 point deficit at halftime after committing four turnovers, but couldn’t catch up.
UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed 20 of 40 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns.
If the game with Utah goes forward as planned, the game would be the first of just three scheduled for the Rose Bowl this year. The USC-UCLA game is planned for December 12.
Game time is at 7:30 p.m. and the television network is FS1.
All Rose Bowl games will be held without fans or even players’ families in attendance, a decision that will be reviewed in January.
Also absent will be mascots, spirit squads and bands in an attempt to limit the number of people on the field and allow for more social distancing.
All officials presiding over Rose Bowl games are required to wear masks. They can only lower the mask between plays when they are social distancing but must “mask up” if anyone approaches or the next play is imminent.
The traditional whistle will not be allowed based on health concerns. Instead, each official will use an electronic whistle, recommended to be attached at the waist.
The Pac-12 is the last of the Power Five conferences to begin its season. The Pac-12 CEO Group announced on Sep. 24 the conference’s football season would begin Nov. 7 with each team playing a seven-game conference-only season, five less than usual.
The change was the result of updated Pac-12 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Committee recommendations that took into account increased testing capabilities, the prevalence of COVID-19 and cardiac issues, along with updated state and local health official guidance.
The switch followed an announcement earlier in September that the conference had partnered with the diagnostic firm Quidel to provide up-to-daily coronavirus testing for athletes in contact sports.
The conference’s protocols call for testing each day of full practice, higher-risk of transmission activity, travel and games.
Players are also required to undergo polymerase chain reaction testing each week there is a game. The PCR test detects the virus’ genetic material while the daily antigen tests detects the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies.
The PCR test will take place within 36 hours of the game for the home team and within 36 hours of travel departure for the visiting team. Any positive daily antigen test must be followed by a PCR test within 24 hours;
A third-party testing administrator will administer game-day antigen tests, and PCR tests as applicable, for each team and on-field officials.
Game-day air ambulance service will be available in case any individual tests positive while traveling for competition.
The Pac-12 has established minimum thresholds to play a game. A team must have at least 53 scholarship players available to participate, including at least seven offensive linemen, one quarterback and four defensive linemen.