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Southern Cal, Penn State join list of college football teams opting out of bowl games

Jace Evans

Penn State and Southern California, two of the biggest names in college football, will  not be taking part in bowl season, the schools announced in statements Saturday night. 

USC said the decision to opt out of postseason play was "reached collectively" by the Trojans' medical team, players, coaches and athletic director Mike Bohn. 

It came a day after the Trojans lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game.  The Ducks were a fill-in for Washington, which was forced from the game due to its own COVID-19 issues. The Huskies have also elected to not take part in bowl season

"I am incredibly inspired by our players and the sacrifices they made these past six months to play the game that they love," USC coach Clay Helton said in the statement. "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.

"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. We all share the desire to stay healthy and be with loved ones during the holidays and I fully support this collective decision."

Southern California running back Markese Stepp and head coach Clay Helton walk off the field after the Pac-12 championship game.

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Penn State said its decision, which came after Saturday's 56-21 win against Illinois, was led by the players and supported by AD Sandy Barbour and coach James Franklin.

“I couldn’t be more proud and encouraged by how our team conducted itself during this unprecedented season. One of our four core values is a willingness to sacrifice, and our student-athletes, coaches and staff have all made incredible sacrifices both on and off the field in order for us to compete this year,” said Franklin. “This has been a challenging nine months, but we are proud of how our student-athletes have navigated these difficult times. As you know, we rely on our captains and Leadership Council to provide a voice for our team, and our student-athletes made the difficult choice not to participate in a bowl this year in order to spend time with loved ones. We are fully supportive of their decision, knowing it has been many months since our students-athletes have been able to spend time with their families and the challenges they endured, both physically and mentally. This will be an opportunity for our guys to go home, see family and recharge for the spring semester.”

At least 15 FBS teams have opted out including schools like Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Florida State, Kansas State and Stanford.