Everything appeared to be trending this way but the Pac-12 announced tonight that the 2020 Apple Cup, scheduled for this upcoming Friday, has officially been cancelled.
Washington State’s contest against Stanford yesterday night was called off on Friday after 9 WSU players either tested positive or were deemed close contacts and thus forced to quarantine. The Cougars were still unable to meet the minimum of 53 available scholarship players due to a large number of transfers, opt outs, and standard injuries that have hit the program since Nick Rolovich took over as head coach.
If the game can’t be rescheduled for a later date then this will be the first year since 1944 that the Huskies and Cougars have not played each other in football. The 2 teams made up for it by playing twice in 1945. Possibilities for the game to be played at a later date would be if both teams have their opponent cancel on them on 12/5 or 12/12 or if the Pac-12 decides to abandon the crossover games on 12/19 and instead make up divisional contests that had to be cancelled.
Sources: There's a strong desire on both sides to play this game because of what it means to both schools. The league has prioritized it as well. If there's a way to get it done, they will. https://t.co/q9ZMxOPKTl— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 22, 2020
The good news for Washington is that the determination has been made early in the week. That combined with the Pac-12 clearing teams to schedule non-conference games (provided certain criteria are met) gives the Huskies a chance to schedule another game in its place. Potential non-conference teams however must meet the Pac-12 testing criteria in order to play, must make it a home game for the Pac-12 team, and can only play if there is not another Pac-12 team with an open slot.
Let’s look through what some of the potential options are.
Utah- The Utes are projected to play Arizona State who has not played the past 2 weeks as they had a substantial outbreak within the program including to head coach Herm Edwards. However, the Pac-12 announced today that the ASU/Utah game was being moved to Sunday in order to give an extra day for ASU to have players exit quarantine. If they’re taking that step at this point it makes it seem that the Sun Devils think one extra day will be enough to get them above the minimum player threshold.
#8 BYU- This option will undoubtedly be the most popular for UW fans replacing one set of Cougars with another. BYU has been absolutely dominant this season albeit against a very mediocre schedule. The Cougars have dreams of making the College Football Playoff and it seems the best chance for them to do so is to play (and beat) a leader from the Pac-12. BYU has a bye this week and so it could work from a scheduling perspective. However, the biggest issue is that their current testing regimen is far below that of the Pac-12 so they would need to be extremely motivated to agree to the game. Washington played a home and home series against BYU the past 2 seasons and won convincingly in both games.
UW is looking to schedule a makeup game this weekend, and I've been told BYU is a possibility.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) November 22, 2020
Washington has reached out to BYU about scheduling a game for this week, but so far BYU has resisted, sources tell me and @ESPNRittenberg— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) November 22, 2020
San Diego State- The Aztecs’ game against Fresno State and ex-UW QB Jake Haener has already been cancelled because Fresno has COVID-19 problems. SDSU is 3-2 after losing at Nevada on Saturday so they aren’t the premium opponent that BYU is but they are still one of the better programs in the Mountain West. The question will be if the rest of the Mountain West games happen as scheduled because otherwise it seems likely that SDSU would instead play another abandoned squad in their own conference.
It’s also clear given the way things have gone that one of the other Pac-12 teams could announced tomorrow that they have an outbreak leading to the Huskies playing their previously scheduled opponent as well.
Regardless, it certainly won’t be the Husky sports filled weekend expected a week ago when the men’s basketball team was scheduled to have 3 games to open their season in the Husky Classic and the Apple Cup was still on deck. Now none of those games will happen and the best case scenario is having a different Husky football game to watch.
We’ll update this story with any additional breaking news.
It appears BYU did not want that smoke after all. SDSU or another Pac-12 team’s cancellation looking like the best shot at this point.