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UCLA, Washington opt out of bowl season due to COVID-19; FSU-Wake Forest off

UCLA, Washington opt out of bowl season due to COVID-19; FSU-Wake Forest off
UCLA says Saturday's game against Stanford at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., will be the Bruins' final game of the season. File Photo by Juan Ocampo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The UCLA Bruins and Washington Huskies joined a growing list of college football programs that have opted out of postseason play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCLA said Thursday it will decline any bowl game invitation this postseason. The decision was made by players on the team and supported by athletic director Martin Jarmond, head coach Chip Kelly and the school's athletic department.

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The Bruins host Stanford in their regular-season finale at 4 p.m. PST on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has been our North Star throughout the pandemic, but the student-athlete experience is also always at the forefront of my mind," Jarmond said in a statement.

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"These young men have already sacrificed so much for each other; now is the time for them to shift their focus, be with their families and take a well-deserved break."

UCLA and Oregon State are the only Pac-12 teams that have played all six games on the schedule so far this season. All other teams have had at least one game interrupted by positive coronavirus tests and contact tracing, including Washington, which was forced to pull out of Friday's conference championship game against USC. The Oregon Ducks replaced Washington in the Pac-12 title game.

On Friday, Washington announced it will not pursue a bowl bid this postseason due to medical reasons.

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"I'm truly disappointed for our players, coaches and staff who dedicated themselves to this very challenging season," Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen said in a statement.

"The last 10 days we have made every effort, including pausing all football-related activities and continued aggressive testing protocols, to be able to have our team ready to return to the field. However, with the number of positive cases, specifically at the offensive line position, we will not have a team ready for competition due to our comprehensive return-to-play medical protocols."

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Washington and UCLA joined Stanford, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Kansas State, Louisville, Virginia Tech and San Diego State as schools that have opted out of this postseason.

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Also Friday, the Florida State-Wake Forest matchup scheduled for Saturday was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns within the Seminoles' football program.

FSU told the league office that a positive test and contact tracing left the team without enough offensive linemen. This is the third game this season that Florida State has called off within 24 hours because of coronavirus issues.

Meanwhile, Iowa Hawkeyes head football coach Kirk Ferentz tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Friday.

The 65-year-old Ferentz tested positive Thursday during his daily antigen test and had the result confirmed by a PCR test. The coach is asymptomatic and will self-isolate until Dec. 27.

"We have been fortunate this season to have played eight games and to have very few positive cases," Ferentz said in a statement. "When the team returns to practice on Tuesday, I will participate via Zoom and our collective focus will be on preparing for the bowl game."

Iowa's home game against Michigan -- scheduled for Saturday -- previously was canceled due to COVID-19 issues inside the Wolverines' program. Iowa will learn its bowl destination Sunday.

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Ferentz is the fifth Big Ten head coach known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, joining Ohio State's Ryan Day, Wisconsin's Paul Chryst, Maryland's Mike Locksley and Purdue's Jeff Brohm.

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