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College football: Oregon to replace Washington in Pac-12 title game

Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal (C) and the Ducks will now represent the Pac-12 North in the title game and play USC on Friday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal (C) and the Ducks will now represent the Pac-12 North in the title game and play USC on Friday in Los Angeles. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Oregon Ducks are replacing Washington in the Pac-12 Championship Game due to ongoing COVID-19 issues within the Huskies' football program, the conference announced Monday.

The Pac-12 determined that Washington would be unable to field the 53 scholarship players required to compete because of positive COVID-19 cases and the related contact tracing. The Huskies also were below the required number of student-athletes for a specific position group.

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Under the conference's rules, the second-place finisher replaces the division champion. As a result, Oregon (3-2) will now represent the Pac-12 North in the title game and play USC (5-0) on Friday in Los Angeles.

"Our goal every season is to win the Pac-12 championship," Washington head coach Jimmy Lake said in a statement. "I am so proud of the work our team and staff have put in to position ourselves to attain that goal. Unfortunately, the virus is in our footprint. We have not been able to resume football activities and currently the entirety of one of our key position groups, deemed a critical position group by the Pac-12, is in quarantine.

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"There is no path forward to practice or play this week. Our focus now is getting everyone healthy so we can resume football activities and prepare for a possible bowl game. We are crushed that we cannot bring home the Pac-12 trophy for our fans, staff and players."

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Lake said the Huskies' entire offensive line, including walk-ons, is currently unavailable and the team hasn't practiced since Wednesday. The coach said the Huskies (3-1) are expected to be able to compete in a bowl game this postseason.

Washington was forced to cancel last week's game against Oregon because of its coronavirus issues. The winner of that matchup would have advanced to the conference championship game.

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