Thursday update: Saturday’s game between Washington and Oregon is going to be canceled and declared a no-contest, according to the Seattle Times. Washington is “well below” the 53-scholarship minimum required to play. The Times is reporting it is unclear if Washington would be cleared for next week’s Pac-12 title game.
In the weirdest college football season in history where no one knows what’s happening even after it happens, the potential cancelation of the Washington vs. Oregon game on Saturday makes things even stranger by the rules the Pac-12 created for themselves.
#Washington football has paused all team-related football activities due to an increase in positive COVID-19 tests within the program. UDub won’t practice today...This weekend’s game vs Oregon is TBD.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 9, 2020
The winner of Washington vs. Oregon, if it’s played, will represent the Pac-12 North Division and face either USC or Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
But if the game isn’t played, the Huskies would be 3-1 and the Ducks finish at 3-2, and so UW advances. Right? Not so fast, my friend...
When the Pac-12 put their rules in place to start the season, they included a clause that says if the average teams plays less than 4.33 games, divisions don’t matter for the upcoming season. As it stands right now the average Pac-12 team has played in exactly 3.83 games (46 games across 12 teams). To get to the 50 needed to average at least 4.33, four Pac-12 games will have to be played this weekend.
And one of those is Washington-Oregon, which might be off the table already.
Things could be in an odd position where if the undefeated 4-0 Buffaloes didn’t actually play on Saturday (at 10:00 a.m. local time against the Utah Utes, who have only played three games themselves), they’d be helping themselves get closer to a spot in the Pac-12 Championship. A spot they mathematically couldn’t claim in any other scenario (unless USC loses to UCLA Saturday night, something completely out of their hands).
It’s just bizarre, but it’s where we are in 2020: An undefeated team in Colorado sits at home because they didn’t get to play a team in their division that had Covid-19, but two teams outside of their division not playing will help them get to a championship game.
For a sport that’s never made sense, 2020 has made the least sense of all.