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College football: Washington-Washington State game scratched over coronavirus concerns

SF Gate logo SF Gate 11/23/2020 Chronicle News Services
Chris Petersen et al. around each other: Washington coach Chris Petersen, center, holds the Apple Cup trophy as he celebrates with quarterback Jake Browning, left, and the rest of the team after Washington defeated Washington State 28-15 in an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) © Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Washington coach Chris Petersen, center, holds the Apple Cup trophy as he celebrates with quarterback Jake Browning, left, and the rest of the team after Washington defeated Washington State 28-15 in an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Apple Cup between Washington State and Washington, scheduled to be played Friday in Pullman, was scratched Sunday because of coronavirus concerns in the Washington State program.

The move came after Washington State was forced to cancel its game at Stanford this past Saturday because of the virus.

The Pac-12 said the decision about the Apple Cup was made under the conference’s football policy because Washington State does not have the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game because of the coronavirus. WSU athletic director Pat Chun on Friday told reporters that nine Cougars players were in COVID-19 protocol.

“After assessing the overall status of our football program, we remain under the minimum threshold of 53 available scholarship student-athletes and cannot forecast a scenario that allows us to reach that threshold by the end of the week,” Chun said in a statement Sunday.

Washington and Washington State have played each other every year since 1944. If neither team reaches the Pac-12 championship game, it’s possible they could meet Dec. 19.

“The Boeing Apple Cup is one of the most sacred rivalries in all of sports and one of the most meaningful days of the year for all Washingtonians,” Chun said. “It’s gut-wrenching and disappointing for our student-athletes and coaches as well as those at UW. As we work through the remainder of our schedule, we will continue to communicate with the Pac-12 Conference and UW if any scenario would emerge that would allow us to reschedule the game.”

“This is so disappointing for our players, coaches and staff, as well as Husky Nation as we were all looking forward to the Boeing Apple Cup this week,” Washington AD Jen Cohen said in a statement. “This is one of the best rivalries in college sports and every year we circle this game at the start of the season. We will work with Pac-12 to prioritize this game and look into any opportunities to play it should there be an open date for both schools down the road.”

• Fresno State’s home game against San Diego State, scheduled for Friday, was canceled because of COVID-19 contact tracing in Fresno State’s program.

The coronavirus outbreak led Fresno State to cancel its game against San Jose State, which was to have been played this past Saturday.

Swinney fuming: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said his team met the medical standard to play against Florida State and believes the Seminoles — 35 ½-point underdogs — called off the game a few hours before kickoff Saturday for reasons other than the virus.

“This game was not canceled because of COVID,” Swinney said Sunday. “COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game.”

After the fourth-ranked Tigers arrived in Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday, they learned a reserve offensive lineman had tested positive for the coronavirus. Clemson isolated the player and sent him back to campus.

Clemson administrators offered additional testing to satisfy Florida State’s hesitation and offered to play the game later Saturday or Sunday or Monday. All the suggestions were turned down.

“To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game, and if they want to play Clemson, in my opinion, they need to come to Clemson or they need to pay for all expenses,” Swinney said. “Other than that, there’s no reason for us to play them.”

Poll update: Alabama is a unanimous No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, and Northwestern moved up to No. 11 for its best ranking in 24 years.

The Crimson Tide received all 62 first-place votes after beating Kentucky 63-3. Notre Dame was No. 2, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Texas A&M. Florida was No. 6, and No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 8 BYU also held their spots.

The rest of the top 10 was No. 9 Oregon and Miami.

Northwestern moved up eight spots after beating Wisconsin 17-7 to improve to 5-0. The Badgers slipped eight spots to 18th.

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