OU football: Sooners' game at West Virginia postponed due to COVID-19
NORMAN — OU football had several close calls — including last week before Bedlam — but had been able to avoid interruptions to its schedule.
The Sooners’ game scheduled for Saturday at West Virginia was postponed to Dec. 12 after the team was forced to temporarily pause organized team activities due to recent positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing.
“It’s just a week-to-week deal that we deal with,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said after Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State, when asked about a report that that game was in jeopardy even late in the week.
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The Sooners had several other close calls, including the Sept. 19 opener against Missouri State.
OU’s Sept. 26 game against Kansas State was also in danger of being postponed due to positive tests for the Wildcats.
“We’re being as proactive as we can but this virus is a ghost and is wherever it wants to be,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said.
Big 12 guidelines allow for games to be postponed if a team has fewer than 53 players — non-scholarship players included — available. The conference also has minimum thresholds for offensive linemen (seven), interior defensive linemen (four) and quarterbacks (one) available.
A team that falls below any of those guidelines can elect to play.
Football players undergo COVID-19 tests three times per week, including Wednesdays and Fridays.
OU doesn’t release team-specific testing data but last week, 379 tests were conducted among athletes and staff with eight positives and seven active cases remained among athletes and three among staff members.
The Sooners next scheduled game is Dec. 5 at home against Baylor.
OU trails Iowa State by a game in the Big 12 race. The Sooners don’t quite control their own destiny as they try to get back to the Big 12 Championship Game and win a sixth consecutive conference title, but they might by the time the weekend is up.
An Iowa State win over Texas on Friday would assure that the Sooners would make the title game with a 2-0 finish.
If something happens and the Sooners couldn’t play one of their final two regular-season games, they would still have a chance to play in the title game.
Teams that played less than one fewer conference game than the league average are eligible for the title game. When teams have unbalanced schedules, head-to-head results will take precedence over winning percentage when there is a tie in the loss column.
The Big 12 made it to mid-November with only one postponed conference game — the Oklahoma State at Baylor game originally scheduled for Oct. 17 was pushed to Dec. 12 due to COVID testing and protocols that led to Baylor temporarily suspending football operations.
But the Sooners-Mountaineers game is the second in as many weeks to be postponed.
Last week’s scheduled game between Texas and Kansas was pushed back due to COVID issues with the Jayhawks program. That game was also moved to Dec. 12.
TCU’s non-conference game against SMU, set for Sept. 11, was also wiped out. Oklahoma State’s opener against Tulsa was pushed back a week to Sept. 19.