USC announced Saturday evening it will join several of its Pac-12 counterparts in opting out of any opportunities this bowl season, citing continued COVID-19 concerns and player-personnel reasons.

USC football
USC football is shut down for the 2020 season after a conference title loss to the Oregon Ducks on Friday. The No. 13 Trojans were still bowl-eligible, but health concerns in the program as well as their LA County home forced the school to make the call. (Image: AP)

The No. 13 Trojans (5-1) lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday night at home in the LA Memorial Coliseum. The program would be in a New Year’s Six bowl had it closed out the season undefeated.

This is the second time in the last three seasons the Trojans won’t appear in a bowl game.

In a statement that read “Until next year,” the school said its medical team, players, coach Clay Helton, and athletic director Mike Bohn decided to forego the post-season jointly.

The statement noted that COVID-19 cases have increased within the program, and, along with injuries, the Trojans are nearing the 53-player threshold needed to play a game.

USC also acknowledges the current COVID-19 crisis in LA County has caused all athletic teams to pause activities until Jan. 4.

“We are a student-athlete-centered athletics program; thus, we fully support the decision to opt-out of a bowl game this year,” Bohn said. “The physical and mental health and the safety of our student-athletes is paramount, and this season has been unimaginably taxing on our players in particular. This will allow them to be with their families who they haven’t seen for a long time, and begin preparing for their spring semester academics.”

Pac-12’s Shortened Season won’t Include Bowls … for the Most Part

The Trojans are the sixth Pac-12 program to forego bowl season because of COVID-19-based concerns. They join Stanford, Arizona State, Washington, UCLA, and Utah.

Both Oregon (4-2) and No. 25 Colorado (4-1) indicated Saturday they would accept bowl bids. Oregon may sneak into a New Year’s Six game in the wake of their conference title. Colorado’s options are limited as the only Pac-12-eligible bowl game still on is the Alamo Bowl. The Buffs could face Iowa State, which lost the Big 12 title game to Oklahoma on Saturday.

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