After returning from its first victory of the season, Southern Miss looked to carry its momentum in a home matchup against Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Instead, Southern Miss now deals with the repercussions of its first postponed game this season due to COVID-19.
Southern Miss was scheduled to play FAU on Oct. 10. However, FAU postponed the game on Thursday night because of positive COVID-19 tests on its team. FAU Director of Athletics Brian White announced the decision in an online statement.
“The health and safety of our student-athletes will always be our highest priority as we deal with this pandemic,” White said. “We’ll continue to work diligently with Conference USA and Southern Miss to reschedule this game.”
According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, FAU Head Coach Willie Taggart said that FAU had 18 players and nine staff members test positive for COVID-19. Six weeks into the 2020 college football season, FAU has only played one game. The Owls have now had three games postponed and two games canceled due to issues with COVID-19.
Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain released a public statement about the game’s postponement.
“We understand this COVID-related decision made by Florida Atlantic to not play our game this weekend and appreciate the consistent communication with our athletic department during the week,” McClain said. “We are disappointed for our student-athletes who will not get a chance to participate[. However,] we will work with Florida Atlantic and Conference USA to reschedule this game for later in the season.”
Though Southern Miss and FAU plan to reschedule the conference matchup, that date has yet to be decided due to conflicts. Southern Miss has already had its bye week and FAU is currently on its bye week. FAU has an open slot on its schedule due to Old Dominion’s postponement of its football season, but Southern Miss is scheduled to play the University of Texas at San Antonio that week.
This is the first time Southern Miss has dealt with a COVID-postponement during this season, but not the first time a COVID-related scare has happened. Louisiana Tech had 38 positive COVID-19 tests a week before playing Southern Miss. So far, there have been 11 other postponed games within the Conference USA this season due to COVID-19.
Before the start of the season, the Conference USA Board of Directors released a statement that addressed the possibility of extending the regular season to allow teams to reschedule postponed games.
“The C-USA Championship remains scheduled for Dec. 5, with the flexibility of possibly moving later, depending on the need to potentially reschedule regular-season games,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Southern Miss now prepares for its next game, which is at the University of Texas at El Paso on Oct. 17. The Miners have played all five of its scheduled games so far and have a 3-2 (0-1 Conference USA) record. The Golden Eagles (1-3, 1-1 Conference USA) aim to improve above .500 in conference play in its hopes to compete for the Conference USA Championship.