Last week ended up being a bit of a bummer when we found out the Husky game down in Cal was canceled. Apparently one of their defensive linemen tested positive for COVID and – per the stringent rules in the Berkeley area – that meant the entire position group had to quarantine for 14 days. The daily testing that the Pac-12 set up was supposed to prevent this, by catching a positive case early and pulling him out of the rotation before it could be spread to other players, but there’s apparently no getting around the local COVID rules in the Bay Area. So Cal – and presumably Stanford – is/are going to have to be perfectly COVID-free if they’re going to play ANY games this season.
It’s not like the Cal players are especially reckless, at least, not any more than any other team. Just bad luck, I guess! There have been dozens of college football games that have been canceled or postponed, so it’s not like we’re talking about an especially-rare occurrence. But, it’s unfortunate.
As has been discussed, the Pac-12 is – of course – behind the 8-ball relative to the other Power Five conferences. We have the smallest number of scheduled games, and that number is only going to dwindle the more of these outbreaks we come across. As MOST of the Pac-12 played their first games of the season on Saturday (Arizona/Utah was also postponed due to too many positive cases on Utah), if you look across the Top 25 rankings, you see teams that have already completed six, seven, even EIGHT games! Why should even a 7-0 Pac-12 champion make the final four when there are schools playing something resembling full slates of games? I think it’s pretty clear that the Pac-12 champion will have to be undefeated to even have a hope of making the playoffs; but if that team is only able to complete 5-6 games due to COVID cancellations, it makes it pretty unreasonable to expect that they MUST be included.
So, does that mean the Huskies’ championship hopes are dashed before the season even starts? Yeah, probably. Not that those hopes were ever all that reasonable to begin with. But, an impressive victory down in Cal could have maybe put us into the Top 25 (we are currently among the “others receiving votes” pile in the AP Poll, effectively ranked 30th in the nation even before we’ve played a down; with Cal also there, ranked 37th).
It’ll be interesting nevertheless, though, as I believe Cal to be our second-toughest opponent besides Oregon. Now, we start our year at home, against a VERY hapless Oregon State team, who just lost at home to the Cougs by 10 points. Washington should have no trouble handling what looks like a listless and ineffective Beavers offense (with a Freshman quarterback), and it’ll hopefully prove to be a soft landing for whoever starts at quarterback for the Dawgs.
It’s an 8pm start, which is tough for national exposure, but at this point I just want to see football! I don’t care when it’s played or who the opponent is, let’s go Huskies!