Just hours before the scheduled kickoff of Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl, a COVID-19 outbreak caused UCLA to drop out of the game against NC State. Now, after trying to find a replacement, the game is officially canceled.
“Sadly we are announcing that the 2021 SDCCU Holiday Bowl is cancelled. We worked closely with Boo Corrigan and the fantastic NC State Athletics staff to try and find a replacement team for UCLA, but were unable to do so,” Holiday Bowl CEO Mark Neville and president Bob Bolinger said in a statement.
On Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that the Bruins defensive line “has been decimated by Covid issues,” leaving them with only two healthy interior players available. The team was set to use a linebacker as a backup nose guard for the game, before it was unable to move forward.
The Holiday Bowl held off on officially canceling the game, as NC State reached out to “north of 10 teams” including East Carolina, Southern Methodist and Memphis, all of whom had their bowl games canceled earlier this year. They held out hope that 5–7 San Jose State, which last played on Thanksgiving, could reconvene and prepare for the game.
Ultimately, NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan and his team were unable to find a match.
“We can't find anyone,” Corrigan told The News & Observer on Tuesday night. “The bowl game has been great. The ACC has been great. We just can’t.”
According to the report, some Wolfpack players are flying directly home from San Diego, rather than regrouping in Raleigh, N.C., so entering another bowl game “is not an option.” The program, 9–3 on the year, was seeking just the second double-digit win in its history.
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