If coach Dana Holgorsen seemed relieved after his University of Houston football team finally played a game Thursday night, no one can blame him. Five times the Cougars had season-opening opponents either cancel or postpone games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
When finally allowed on the field, the Cougars overcame five turnovers to outlast Tulane 49-31.
“We won, so that’s good, but there’s a lot of things we’ve got to get better at,” Holgorsen told reporters.
Houston’s story is only one of several to play out this season as colleges return to campus and try to find a way to coexist with COVID-19. Through Thursday, 26 FBS games had been postponed or canceled since the season began. That’s in addition to the upheaval of conferences retooling their schedules for later starts and shorter seasons.
The Gophers are scheduled to open a nine-game Big Ten season on Oct. 24 against Michigan.
In Houston’s case, the season was supposed to start Sept. 3 vs. Rice, but the Owls dropped out because of COVID-19. The next game, vs. Washington State, was eliminated when the Pac-12 originally canceled its season. The next game, vs. Memphis, was postponed, and the Cougars scrambled to fill that date with Baylor, until the Bears canceled 48 hours before kickoff. North Texas became the fifth program to beg out, canceling the Sept. 26 game.
“You can’t compare this to anything. … This is on a whole ‘nother level,” Holgorsen said earlier this week. “The one thing that has given us hope is we sit here and watch other teams playing.”
Familiar names impacted
When Notre Dame and Florida State meet Saturday night in South Bend, Ind., on display will be two teams whose seasons have been impacted greatly by COVID-19.
The fifth-ranked Fighting Irish return after their Sept. 26