We’re getting sick of having to lead this column with news about the coronavirus pandemic, but as with everything in 2020, COVID must be addressed before anything else.
While the Big 12 and other conferences have been dealing with COVID-related postponements since the start of the season, the SEC was spared through its first three weeks of play. That changed this week, when two games were postponed due to outbreaks, and Alabama coach Nick Saban tested positive for the virus.
The first game to be postponed was the matchup between Vanderbilt and Missouri, after Vandy dipped below the threshold of 53 healthy eligible scholarship players, "including seven offensive linemen (with one center), four defensive linemen and one quarterback," per the SEC’s COVID Task Force. That game has tentatively been rescheduled for Dec. 12.
The other postponement is arguably the biggest game of the year to get bumped: the rivalry game between #10 Florida and LSU. Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said that 18 scholarship players and three walk-ons had tested positive for COVID, and the team had fewer than 50 scholarship players available for this week’s game. That game has also been tentatively rescheduled for Dec. 12, a week before the SEC Championship.
However the biggest COVID news of the week came late Wednesday, when #2 Alabama announced that Saban was entering self-isolation after a positive COVID test. While there’s never a good time to get such news, the announcement comes ahead of Alabama’s biggest game of the season, as they’re set to face #3 Georgia Saturday night under the lights. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who has head coaching experience in both the NCAA and NFL, has been put in charge of “operations on the ground,” according to ESPN. Although Saban was able to communicate with his coaching staff during Wednesday’s practice, NCAA Football bylaws state that coaches are not allowed to “call into the press box or sideline for anything related to coaching purposes," during games.
The third postponement of the week was the game between #7 Oklahoma State and Baylor, which suspended all football-related activities last week. That game has been rescheduled for, you guessed it, Dec. 12. The Cowboys — who at 3-0 are the last unbeaten Big 12 team — have already had one of their games postponed, a 16-7 win over Tulsa that was pushed back a week.
With four top 10 teams dealing with effects of COVID outbreaks, let’s hope the college football programs can do a better job of managing the pandemic moving forward, especially with the Big 10 set to begin its season next weekend. Here’s a look at the full Week 7 CFB schedule, we’ll update if there are any other postponements.
UPDATE: The game between #8 Cincinnati and Tulsa has been postponed due to positive COVID tests among the Cincinnati student-athletes. The game has been rescheduled for Dec. 5 at Tulsa. The AAC also announced today that its conference championship game will be played on either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19. The official announcement will be made before Nov. 1.
UPDATE 2: The Southern Miss-UTEP game has been postponed after USM players tested positive for COVID. No date has been set for a makeup.
UPDATE 3: Following a third negative test, Nick Saban has been cleared to coach in Saturday's game against Georgia. "Due to the fact that Coach Saban has remained completely symptom-free and had five negative PCR tests, split between two separate labs, the initial test from Wednesday is considered a false positive under the SEC protocols," Alabama team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson said in statement, per ESPN.
The SEC has also moved next week's game between Florida and Missouri to Oct. 31. Two other SEC games have been rescheduled as a result, we'll update those in next week's schedule.
CFB Week 7 - Sat. Oct. 17
|Away Team||Home Team||Time (ET)||Channel|
|Coastal Carolina||#21 Louisiana||7:30pm (10/14)||CCU Wins 30-27|
|Georgia State||Arkansas State||7:30pm (10/15)||ARST Wins 59-52|
|#1Clemson||Georgia Tech||12:00 PM||ESPN3|
|#15Auburn||South Carolina||12:00 PM||ESPN|
|Navy||East Carolina||12:00 PM||ESPN2|
|Texas State||South Alabama||12:00 PM||ESPNU|
|South Florida||Temple||12:00 PM||ESPN+*|
|Kansas||West Virginia||12:00 PM||FOX^|
|Western Kentucky||UAB||1:30 PM|
|Louisville||#4Notre Dame||2:30 PM||NBC^|
|Duke||NC State||3:30 PM||ESPN3|
|Ole Miss||Arkansas||3:30 PM||SECN|
|Eastern Kentucky||Troy||3:30 PM||ESPN3|
|#11Texas A&M||Mississippi State||4:00 PM||ESPN|
|UMass||Georgia Southern||4:00 PM||ESPN2|
|Virginia||Wake Forest||4:00 PM||ACCN|
|North Texas||Middle Tennessee||5:00 PM||CBSSN*|
|Marshall||Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM||CBSSN*|
|#5North Carolina||Florida State||7:30 PM||ESPN3|
|Boston College||#23Virginia Tech||8:00 PM||ACCN|
*Full game not available on Sling
^ Games may be restricted based on market
To get the most college football on Sling, subscribe to Orange + Blue with Sports Extra by clicking the link below!