John Martinez (Flickr)
The PAC-12 Conference is finally beginning their season on Saturday and the games could provide some distraction for West-Coasters who are recovering from the chaos of raging wildfires amid a new surge in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sept. 24, the conference elected to play a seven-game, conference-only season beginning Nov. 7 that would allow PAC-12 teams to be eligible for the College Football Playoff. The season is scheduled to conclude with the Pac-12 Championship game on Dec. 18 or 19.
Because of the compressed season and the need to complete the schedule by the Dec. 19 deadline to be eligible for the College Football Playoffs, all 12 teams will generally play each weekend. Beginning with week two, the schedule blends one or more Friday games with a Saturday lineup that includes the rest of the conference. Fans from Arizona can once again look forward to the final week of conference play, when Arizona State plays University of Arizona in a grudge match called “The Territorial Cup”.
Several factors will play into the format of this season’s divisional and outer divisional play.
Speaking of rivalry games — the North division of the conference will play their rivalry games on Nov. 27 and 28, where the South division have theirs scheduled on Dec. 11 and 12.
All decisions concerning fall and winter PAC-12 sports resumption were developed using the evaluations of health and safety measures done by the PAC-12 Medical Advisory Committee and official state and local health guidelines.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all of those connected to Pac-12 sports remains our guiding light and number one priority,” said Michael Schill, President at the University of Oregon and Pac-12 Group Chair. “From the beginning of the crisis, our focus has been on following science, data and counsel of our public health and infectious disease experts.”
The Pac-12 has constructed a detailed document on how to combat the virus based on testing student-athletes after travel, which states, “Once student-athletes have returned to the campus, a surveillance strategy to screen for active infection should be adopted based on the risk for transmission of the activity, local prevalence, and percent positive tests.”
Pac-12 has granted access to non-conference opponents in the agreement of the compliance of Pac-12 COVID-19 protocols. Most notably, for fall and winter sports such as basketball, gymnastics, and swimming and diving. The decision will also allow PAC-12 football teams to compete in Bowl games.
The season kicks off this Saturday with the Arizona State Sun Devils taking on the University of Southern California Trojans at 12 p.m.