October 27, 2021


Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

USC chooses not to play in bowl game, bringing season to a close

With its undefeated run over, its Pac-12 title dreams dashed, and the coronavirus pandemic looming large in Los Angeles, USC has decided not to bother with bowling this season.

The Trojans announced on Saturday night that they will turn down a bowl invite, effectively ending an arduous, pandemic-altered campaign that ended in a 31-24 loss to Oregon on Friday in the Pac-12 title game.

The decision was a collective one between players, coaches, staff, and USC’s medical team. It was made on Saturday following a recommendation from USC’s medical team, as a variety of factors including injuries and rising COVID-19 cases locally have left the Trojans dangerously close to the 53-player threshold needed to play a game.

Opting out of a bowl game will also give USC players a reprieve from months of isolation. Continuing the season would’ve meant spending the holiday break stuck on campus and separated from their families. Already, players spent their Thanksgivings away from home, eating boxed turkey dinners while isolated in their dormitories or apartments. Most haven’t seen their families since September.

Coach Clay Helton said in a statement that he was inspired by their sacrifice over the previous six months and that he shared the desire “to stay healthy and be with loved ones during the holidays.”

“They did everything we asked of them to abide by the challenging guidelines they had to follow to stay safe and well, whether it was daily testing or keeping distant from family and friends or training in less-than-ideal ways,” Helton said. “It has not been easy, and it is hard for anyone outside the program to understand how immensely difficult these past few months have been for them.”

USC finished the season at 5-1.