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CU Buffs likely to remain idle this week

Pac-12 approves non-conference games, but Colorado turning focus to Nov. 28 game at USC

BOULDER, CO – NOVEMBER 07: University of Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell, right, leads the Buffs out onto the field to play UCLA at Folsom Field November 07, 2020. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)
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There will be no Rocky Mountain Showdown this week.

Despite some intriguing possibilities of playing regional opponents on Saturday, the Colorado Buffaloes are likely to take a week off.

CU (2-0) was supposed to host Arizona State (0-1) on Saturday at Folsom Field, but on Sunday that game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the ASU program.

When Colorado State and Wyoming became available on Wednesday, speculation for those matchups began. Then, on Thursday, the Pac-12 CEO group approved flexibility for teams to find non-conference opponents, opening the door for CU to face the Rams or Cowboys.

However, Colorado athletic director Rick George said Thursday that the only way the Buffs will play this weekend is if another Pac-12 team is available. As of Thursday afternoon, the other five games appeared to be on track to be played.

“We are waiting out the day to make sure the other five Pac-12 games that are scheduled will go forth with no COVID issues, and that we would not be matched in a conference game,” George said in a statement released by the school. “That being said, even though the conference has approved non-conference opponents if one can be found that satisfies the testing protocols the Pac-12 has in place for its members, we will not play a non-conference opponent this weekend.”

Wyoming was scheduled to host Utah State on Thursday night and CSU was scheduled to host UNLV on Saturday. Both games were canceled because of COVID-19 issues, at Utah State and UNLV.

For Wyoming, it’s the second consecutive canceled game. CSU has had two canceled, as well. There was some speculation those rivals would hook up for a rematch of their Nov. 5 game, won by CSU, 34-24, but that did not materialize.

The Pac-12 is playing a conference-only schedule this season, but has now given schools the flexibility to schedule non-conference games, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Non-conference opponent must adhere to all Pac-12 testing and related protocols.
  • The non-conference game must be a home game for the Pac-12 and broadcast by a Pac-12 TV partner.
  • The non-conference game would be canceled if a Pac-12 opponent becomes available by the end of the day Thursday in a given week.

Mountain West Conference teams, such as CSU and Wyoming, test their athletes for COVID-19 three times per week. If a test is positive, a PCR test is done for confirmation.

The Pac-12 does daily antigen tests six times per week, as well PCR tests as many as three times a week. CU safety Derrion Rakestraw said the Buffs were tested before and after practice on Thursday.

In addition to trying to work out the logistics, trying to schedule CSU, Wyoming or another team on short notice would have difficult from a preparation standpoint.

“It would be a big challenge,” head coach Karl Dorrell said Wednesday. “Depends on who it is, obviously. Let’s say we’re playing someone from the East Coast that we’re not familiar with and that’s going to be double time in terms of our preparation as a coaching staff, getting familiar with that opponent. I’m sure our conference would not want those types of scenarios to occur, particularly late in the week.”

Dorrell and his staff likely would have had some familiarity with CSU, considering the Buffs and Rams were originally scheduled to open their season on Sept. 5, Fort Collins.

Still, plenty of challenges, including with testing, would have made a last-minute scheduling of a game difficult. The Pac-12’s decision does open up the possibility for future weeks, however.

“In the future if a similar instance arises, it would give us more time to prepare (for a non-conference opponent), but for now, we want to concentrate on game preparations for the USC game next Saturday in Los Angeles,” George said.

The Buffs are slated to visit USC (2-0) on Nov. 28. The Trojans visit Utah on Saturday night. Utah has had both games canceled because of COVID-19 issues within its program, but according to reports was on track to play this week.

Other Pac-12 games include California at Oregon State, UCLA at Oregon, Arizona at Washington and Washington State at Stanford.