Football preview: South Alabama heads to Louisiana as COVID-19 postpones Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Troy games

Football preview: South Alabama heads to Louisiana as COVID-19 postpones Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Troy games
The UAB Blazers are in move-on mode after two consecutive losses but the Blazers' expected visit from North Texas at Legion Field has been postponed. (UAB Athletics)

Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday evening and again Friday morning after UAB’s game with North Texas and Troy’s game with Coastal Carolina were postponed.

Alabama, Auburn, UAB and Troy will sit out play on Saturday as each had its game postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alabama linebacker Will Anderson (31) celebrates during the Tide’s victory over Mississippi State. Alabama is No. 1 this week for the first time this season but won’t have the opportunity to play LSU as scheduled. The Tigers had to postpone the game because of COVID-19 infections. (UA Athletics)

No. 1 Alabama’s game at LSU, originally scheduled for this Saturday, has been postponed due to a combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of people within the LSU program, which is consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements.

“While it is unfortunate to have multiple postponements in the same week, we began the season with the understanding interruptions to the schedule were possible and we have remained focused throughout the season on the health of everyone around our programs,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We must remain vigilant, within our programs and in our communities, to prevent the spread of the virus and to manage activities that contribute to these interruptions.”

Per the SEC, because LSU has a game tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12, the opportunity to reschedule the Alabama at LSU game will need to be evaluated. The rescheduling of games on the remaining SEC football schedule may include Dec. 19 as a playing date.

No. 24 Auburn was scheduled to travel to Starkville to face Mississippi State on Saturday, but that was before the contest was called off because of positive tests and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Mississippi State football program. Postponement of the game until Dec. 12 is consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements.

Additionally, WBRC-TV reported that football practice and workouts were on pause at Auburn Tuesday after several players and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10) rushes the ball during the Tigers’ win over LSU at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers will be off the field for a second straight week after their scheduled game with Mississippi State was postponed because of COVID-19 infections. (Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics)

Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn said nine players and three staff members tested positive, with several more in close contact. Malzahn said the issues started during the bye week of Nov. 1-7.

Malzahn said as a football program in a pandemic there are going to be challenges, and the team will take these cases day by day.

The Tide, the Tigers and their opponents aren’t the only SEC teams sidelined by the pandemic this weekend. The Texas A&M-Tennessee game and the Georgia-Missouri game are postponed as well.

Late Thursday, UAB also announced its game against North Texas Saturday at Legion Field has been canceled due to COVID-19.

“Although it is disappointing we cannot play this weekend, the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans is the most important factor in our decision,” said UAB Director of Athletics Mark Ingram. “These are unprecedented times and we appreciate the patience of our fan base as we navigate this situation together.”

UAB and North Texas are trying to reschedule.

The Troy Trojans (4-3, 2-2 Sun Belt) were hoping to get back on track this weekend after last week’s 20-13 loss to Georgia Southern. But the team announced Friday morning that Saturday’s scheduled game with Coastal Carolina (7-0) has been postponed because the Trojans are dealing with a combination of positive COVID-19 tests and injuries to a specific position group within the football program.

Troy, Coastal Carolina and the Sun Belt Conference are working together to reschedule the game.

South Alabama at Louisiana: The No. 25 Ragin’ Cajuns (6-1 overall, 4-1 in the Sun Belt) entertain the Jaguars (3-4, 2-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

HIGH SCHOOLS

Class 7A: Hewitt-Trussville (9-2) was No. 3 in the final Alabama Sports Writers Association prep poll. That puts the Huskies on common ground, as every team in the second round of the playoffs in this classification – except Oak Mountain (6-4), which plays at No. 2 Hoover – is ranked in the Top 10. For Hewitt-Trussville to move to the third round, it will have to push aside No. 1 defending champion Thompson (11-0) in Alabaster.

Class 6A: Unranked Shades Valley (4-7) hosts No. 3 Pinson Valley (8-2) in Irondale.

Class 5A: Blocks away from the meeting of No. 1 Ramsay (10-0) with No. 10 Fairview (10-1) at Legion Field, Parker (6-4) hosts No. 9 Alexandria (10-1).

Class 4A: No. 5 Handley (9-1) takes on Montevallo (7-4) at Helena High School.

Class 3A: No. 3 Ohatchee (10-1) welcomes Winfield (10-1).

Class 2A: No. 10 Clarke County (8-2) travels to Isabella (10-1).

Class 1A: McKenzie (8-2) heads to No. 2 Linden (11-0).

AISA: No. 7 Pike Liberal Arts plays at No. 4 Bessemer Academy. Each is 8-2.

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