CU football regular season over, Pac-12 says; Buffs likely to accept bowl bid


The Buffs’ 2020 season weathered several false starts before getting underway in November. After a bizarre few days of re-scheduling and conjecture, CU’s regular-season appears to finally be over.

The Pac-12 confirmed to The Post on Thursday evening that its teams for the conference’s football championship game on Friday night are apparently set: USC (5-0, 5-0 conference) will represent the South Division and Oregon (3-2, 3-2) will represent the North.

The Ducks and CU (4-1, 3-1) had been assigned by the Pac-12 as the respective “stand-by” teams that would replace the division champions in case COVID prevented the Trojans or Washington Huskies (3-1, 3-1), the league’s designated division champions, from playing for the title.

Washington on Monday was forced to back out of the game because of COVID-19 protocols, which moved Oregon into the championship. Which, in turn, left CU without a weekend Pac-12 opponent.

The Buffs, who stayed in the College Football Playoff committee’s top 25 at No. 25 despite a home loss to Utah this past Saturday, were originally supposed to travel to Los Angeles to play the Ducks at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday.

That game was canceled Monday when Oregon had to replace Washington in Friday’s championship.

The coronavirus has made scheduling in college sports, and especially with the Pac-12, highly fluid and unpredictable. But CU athletics officials told The Post that the Buffs are expected to accept a bowl bid, if offered, once this weekend’s slate of league games are completed.

The league champ is expected to slot into the Fiesta Bowl. The remaining bowl-eligible Pac-12 teams have three other postseason opportunities with conference ties: the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29; the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26; and the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31.

UCLA on Thursday joined Stanford in announcing that it won’t pursue a bowl game if offered. The Pac-12 decreed that only league members with .500 or better records would be eligible for bowls. The conference could have as many as five teams with a .500 or better record after this weekend’s results but may wind up short if Arizona State (1-2) or Utah (2-2) lose.

CU is on the cusp of its first postseason appearance since a loss in the 2016 Alamo Bowl. The Buffs are assured of a winning record in 2020 regardless, making it the first above-.500 campaign for CU since 2016 and only the second over the last 16 seasons.

The first season under new football coach Karl Dorrell saw the Buffs wind up second to USC in the Pac-12 South, CU’s highest league finish since winning the division in 2016.

The Buffs posted identical 5-7 records in 2017, 2018 and 2019 under two different head coaches — Mike MacIntyre (’17 and ’18) and Mel Tucker (’19). Dorrell was hired this past Feb. 23 to replace Tucker, who left Boulder after just 14 months on the job to become football coach at Michigan State.

By league rules, the Buffs could have qualified to face USC, ranked No. 13 by the College Football Playoff committee, in the Pac-12 title game Friday night if at least one more conference game, including CU’s tussle with the Utes, had been canceled.

Among the Pac-12’s directives for the COVID-shortened 2020 regular season was a provision that declared that if the average number of games played by league schools after six regular-season weeks wound up at four or less, then the teams with the two best records would’ve played for the league title, regardless of division.

The kickoff of the game between Stanford and Oregon State in Corvallis, the last contest of the day, put the league average at 4.5 games played per school. The conference announced a pairing of USC and Washington in the championship game shortly after Stanford-Oregon State kicked off.

“I do have a lot of empathy for Colorado,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said on a Zoom call with media Thursday.


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