USF announced late Wednesday afternoon that its game Saturday at Florida Atlantic has been postponed “by joint agreement with the schools” due to COVID-19 issues.
The announcement arrived eight hours after the Bulls indicated they had paused onfield football activities following Tuesday’s news that Notre Dame’s contest this weekend against Wake Forest has been postponed due to a number of positive COVID-19 tests within the Irish program.
USF had tested its players and staff Monday, with no positive results. Results of Wednesday’s round of testing weren’t revealed, but a school statement indicated subsequent contact tracing — as a result of viewing the Notre Dame game film — led to the postponement.
“We were aware going into this season and have seen across the country that dealing with COVID-19 and taking the necessary precautions to mitigate its spread will present ongoing challenges,” USF athletic director Michael Kelly said in the statement.
“We are prepared to deal with those challenges and move forward in a safe manner. We will resume on-field team activities once our medical professionals are comfortable with us doing so and will work in good faith with FAU to identify a future date to reschedule the game.”
Finding that future date appears tricky, at least in 2020. USF’s only remaining open date in the regular season is Halloween weekend. FAU, which has had its first four games called off due to the coronavirus, is idle the weekend of Oct. 16-17, when the Bulls play at Temple.
The American Athletic Conference title game is set for Dec. 5 if all conference games are played as scheduled, with Dec. 12 and 19 the fallback dates.
USF played at Notre Dame on Saturday, losing 52-0. Two days later, Notre Dame announced 94 football players were tested for COVID-19, with seven testing positive. Those players were in isolation Monday along with others who tested positive last week. Counting others who previously tested positive, 13 Irish players were in isolation and another 10 had been quarantined as of Monday.
Saturday’s game is the fourth USF non-conference contest to be called off this year, though two make-ups — the Citadel (Sept. 12) and Notre Dame — were scheduled at the 11th hour.
The plight has been prevalent throughout the AAC, which opted late in the summer to play an eight-game league schedule and allow its teams to schedule up to four non-conference games as other leagues around the country called off their seasons (at least temporarily) or opted to play conference-only schedules.
Houston has had five games wiped out by COVID-19, four against non-conference foes.
“Once we get to conference play I think things are going to settle down," AAC commissioner Mike Aresco told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday.
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"We debated whether to play non-conference games or should go to mostly all-conference schedule. Unfortunately we have lost a number of non-conference games.”