About 24 hours before Utah was scheduled to kick off the 2020 season Saturday at home against Arizona, the long-awaited game was canceled due to positive cases and contact tracing protocols within the Utes’ program.
Utah fell below the threshold of 53 available scholarship players.
But Sunday Utah athletic director Mark Harlan announced that this week’s game against UCLA, originally scheduled for Friday night, is on, but it has been moved to Saturday, when the Utes take on the Bruins at the Rose Bowl at 8:30 p.m. MST in a contest that will be televised on FOX.
Having gone two consecutive days without a positive COVID-19 test result, Utah will return to practice Monday.
“We greatly appreciate the understanding and flexibility of UCLA, the Pac-12 and our conference television rights holders to consider the challenges we have been working through over the past several days with regard to our recent increases in positive COVID-19 cases within our football program,” said Harlan. “After two consecutive days of no positive COVID-19 test results we are encouraged that we can resume practice on Monday in preparation for this week’s game at UCLA. We continue to rigorously reinforce all health and safety protocols related to the virus throughout our department.”
UCLA opened its season last Saturday with a 48-42 setback at Colorado.
With the game being pushed back one day, it gives Utah more time to ensure that enough players are healthy and available for the trip to Los Angeles. It also provides the Utes a little more time to prepare for the Bruins.
But Harlan cautioned that the situation could be impacted by the virus again.
“While we are encouraged by all indicators today that our football program may proceed with preparations for this week’s game, we also recognize the challenges presented by the virus and that our status could change as we continue our daily testing program,” Harlan continued. “We will continue to be guided by our medical professionals in all of our decisions and prioritize the well-being and safety of our student-athletes, as I have said from the beginning of the pandemic.”
One other Pac-12 game, between Washington and Cal, was also canceled last weekend due to COVID-19 issues.
After playing UCLA, Utah’s remaining schedule features games against USC (Nov. 21), Arizona State (Nov. 28), Oregon State (Dec. 5) and Colorado (Dec. 11).