UCLA is scheduled to play its football home opener Sunday at the Rose Bowl, two days later than initially planned and against a different opponent.
The Bruins were initially scheduled to play Utah Friday for their home opener. However, the Pac-12 Conference last Sunday granted Utah’s request to play the game a day later to increase its chances of having enough players on scholarship available.
The Pac-12 Conference announced the cancellation of the UCLA-Utah game at 12:08 p.m. Friday, then announced 88 minutes later the Bruins would face California in a game to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Rose Bowl and be televised by cable’s FS1.
The Pac-12 announced at 9 a.m. Friday the cancellation of Saturday’s planned California at Arizona State game. The Sun Devils did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available as the result of a number of positive COVID-19 cases and resulting isolation of other players under contact tracing protocols.
UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond called the change of opponents “an unconventional solution in an unconventional year.”
The Pac-12 also announced that the UCLA at Oregon game, originally scheduled for Nov. 20, would instead be played the following day.
The UCLA-California game will be the Golden Bears’ season opener. Their planned season opener against Washington Nov. 7 was canceled because they did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available.
The UCLA-Utah game was canceled because the Utes did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to COVID-19.
The Pac-12 has established minimum thresholds to play. A team must have at least 53 scholarship players available to play, including at least seven offensive linemen, one quarterback and four defensive linemen.
Utah did not meet those thresholds because of a number of positive COVID-19 cases among players and the resulting isolation of additional players under contact tracing protocols.
“Our community is especially hard-hit right now by this virus, and our team and our department have been doing everything possible to follow protocols and avoid the spread of the virus,” said Mark Harlan, Utah’s athletic director.
“We were doing very well, day-by-day, and it is extremely difficult for our student-athletes and coaches that they will not be able to compete again this week.”
This was the Utes’ second cancellation of the coronavirus-delayed and shortened Pac-12 season. Their planned season opener Nov. 7 against Arizona was canceled one day before it was to be played because Utah did not have the minimum number of scholarship players available.
The 9 a.m. start is the second in the two-week-old 2020 Pac-12 season, joining the Arizona State-USC game Nov. 7. The early start is an attempt by the conference to increase national and East Coast exposure for its football programs.
This is UCLA’s third Sunday football game since 1980. The Bruins defeated Oregon State, 34-3, in the Mirage Bowl, a regular-season game Nov. 30, 1980, in Tokyo that started at 8:30 p.m. Saturday Pacific Standard Time.
UCLA defeated Texas A&M, 45-44, Sept. 3, 2017 at the Rose Bowl in a game the Bruins trailed 44-10 in the third quarter before mounting the greatest comeback in school history.
UCLA opened the 2020 season with a 48-42 loss at Colorado Nov. 7, committing three first-half turnovers the Buffaloes covered to 21 points en route to a 35-14 halftime lead.
The Bruins lead the series 55-34-1 including winning five of the last seven games between the teams. The Golden Bears were 28-18 winners at the Rose Bowl last season.
All Pac-12 games will be played without fans in attendance in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The decision will be reviewed in January.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: