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College Football Playoff champion could be determined by COVID-19 forfeit

Game scheduled for Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium
Lucas Oil Stadium roof still half open
Posted at 3:08 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 15:34:19-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A team could win the College Football Playoff by forfeit, according to new rules announced Wednesday amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused the omicron variant.

The CFP National Championship is scheduled to be played Monday, Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium. However, it could be rescheduled as late as Friday, Jan. 14 if one or both teams are unable to play due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Currently, concerts and other events remain scheduled in Downtown Indianapolis throughout the weekend leading up to the game.

If only one team is able to play in the championship and the game cannot be rescheduled, the team that can’t play would forfeit and its opponent would be declared national champion. If neither team can play and the game is unable to be rescheduled, the CFP National Championship would be vacated.

“As we prepare for the Playoff, it’s wise and necessary to put into place additional precautions to protect those who will play and coach the games,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement. “These policies will better protect our students and staffs while providing clarity in the event worst-case scenarios result.”

No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Cincinnati at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 31 in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. No. 2 Michigan will face No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl at 7:30 p.m. in Miami Gardens, Florida.

If one of the semifinalists is unavailable to play because of a COVID-19 outbreak, it would forfeit and its opponent would advance to Indianapolis for the national championship.

However, if both teams are unavailable in one semifinal, it would be declared a "no contest" and the winner in the other semifinal would be named national champion.

If three semifinalists cannot play, the game in which both teams can’t play would be a “no contest.” The team unable to play in the other semifinal would forfeit and its opponent would be declared national champion.

Players and staff members will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of kickoff or be fully vaccinated.

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