College Football Playoff says semifinal match-ups won't be rescheduled if COVID-19 strikes teams

The College Football Playoff announced on Wednesday that semifinal match-ups would not be rescheduled if teams struggle to fill their rosters due to COVID-19 infections, upping the stakes for the four universities preparing for games at the end of this month.

According to the College Football Playoff’s COVID-19 post-season policies, if a team is unable to play a game due to missing players, it will forfeit and the other team will move on to the national championship.

If two teams competing against each other in the same semifinal game are both unable to play, the match-up will be considered a “no contest,” and whoever wins the match-up on the other side of the bracket will be named the national champion. 

“If the team's unavailability is determined after the Playoff Semifinals have been conducted, the national championship game in Indianapolis may be rescheduled to no later than Friday, January 14,” the College Football Playoff policies state regarding its national championship game.

If one semi-final winner is unable to field a team by then, the other team will be declared the national champion. If both teams can't play by then, "the game shall be declared ‘no contest’ and the CFP National Championship shall be vacated for this season,” according to the policies. 

The semifinal games are currently set for Dec. 31, while the championship game is scheduled for Jan. 10. Assuming the games go ahead, Cincinnati will square off against top-ranked Alabama in one semi-final game, while Georgia and Michigan will face off in the other. 

Bill Hancock, executive director for the College Football Playoff, said the measures were put in place in an effort to protect players, coaches and others amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases in the United States.

"We certainly wish we were not in this position," Hancock said in a statement, "but the only responsible thing is to take whatever actions we can reasonably take to better protect those who play and coach the game."

One team so far announced it will not be competing in bowl games this year: Texas A&M, which was slated to play in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest. 

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