As COVID-19 infection rates soar to all-time highs nationwide, the Pac-12 is doing its best to juggle schedules and save football seasons. But even the most creative last-minute efforts will still fall short for some.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly gets to play on Sunday again as UCLA and Cal will now face off at the Rose Bowl at 9 a.m. Nov. 15. (Image: AP)

After two teams lost their week two opponents for this weekend, the conference scrambled to set up a consolation match between the unaffected schools. The Pac-12 announced Friday night that Cal and UCLA would face off on Sunday morning at the Rose Bowl.

“The scheduling of this game is consistent with the conference’s commitment to providing opportunities for student-athletes through maximum scheduling flexibility while still prioritizing health and safety,” Pac-12 officials said in a statement. “The announcement follows the cancellation of each of the Cal at Arizona State game and Utah at UCLA game earlier today. The Cal at UCLA game will air [at 9 a.m. PST] Fox Sports 1.

Cal-UCLA Series Streak Saved

In a sense, fate may have intervened for the two schools. Before the decision, the pairing was not on the schedule for the season, and that would have been the first missed bout between the in-state rivals since 1933.

Cal was scheduled to play Arizona State, which announced Friday morning that they could not field a team of 53 healthy scholarship players. Head Coach Herm Edwards also tested positive with coronavirus.

This Could Be It For Utah

UCLA was going to be at Utah on Saturday, and for the second weekend in a row, the Utes were forced to cancel due to the virus’ spread in its team, which has seen at least 17 confirmed positive cases among the Utes’ student-athletes and coaching staff and one player hospitalized.

At a press conference, Friday afternoon Utah athletic director Mark Harlan was asked Friday whether it’s time to shut the Utes down as the state issued a travel advisory amid reports that his hospitals are at capacity this week. Harlan said the cancellation was “obviously a terribly disappointing day here for the University of Utah athletic department and certainly for our football program.” Still, he noted he “[didn’t] foresee” canceling the season just yet.

“I don’t know where college football’s going, guys, I really don’t,” Harlan said. “It’s been an unbelievable week as it is, all the games that have been canceled.”

Both Utah-UCLA and Cal-Arizona State will be declared a no-contest.

The reschedule was especially crucial for Cal, which did not get to play its opener last week and because of the. The city of Berkeley’s protocols may have to move operations elsewhere. UCLA lost its opener 48-42 to Colorado last Saturday.

Odds Open to Favor the Bears

Cal’s Junior quarterback Chase Garbers returns after a successful 2019 under center where he threw for 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his passes. He also has his favorite target back in WR Nikko Remigio, who had 513 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Cal has some new faces on both lines and question marks at secondary as head coach Justin Wilcox continues to turn the Bears’ fortunes around.

Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins lost in a shootout to Colorado in week one and have dropped four of their last six home games. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has completed 50 percent of his passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns, and one interception during that span though he does have two or more touchdown passes in five of his last seven games. UCLA continues to have questions on the defensive line and in their secondary.

Cal opened at -2.5 with the o/u at 55.