The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.
The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18 bowl games scheduled to be played this season have been canceled.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said the team has had a “significant increase in positive COVID-19 tests among our student-athletes, coaches and staff” since the end of the regular season.
Missouri is the third Southeastern Conference team that has had to pull out of its bowl game, joining Tennessee and South Carolina. Army was able to replace Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl against West Virginia to salvage that game. South Carolina’s COVID-19 issues left UAB without an opponent in the Gasparilla Bowl.
Iowa was left in the same situation, with no short-notice replacement available.
“We are extremely disappointed to have our season end today,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “This is a remarkable group of players and men, and it has been an honor to coach them.”
Ferentz added that the Hawkeyes “have overcome several challenges together during a season like no other.” The coach himself tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and the program was rocked during the summer by allegations from former players of systemic racism.
The pandemic continues to disrupt other college sports. Villanova announced Sunday that coach Jay Wright has tested positive for COVID-19 and the fifth-ranked Wildcats have paused basketball activities, including Saturday’s game against Xavier. Syracuse also paused all women’s basketball-related activities and contact tracing is underway after a positive COVID-19 test for the 22nd-ranked Orange.
The Music City Bowl seemed to be in danger last week because Iowa paused football activities due to COVID-19 cases, but the Hawkeyes resumed practice this weekend.
Iowa (6-2) got all eight of its scheduled regular-season games in before having first its championship weekend Big Ten matchup against Michigan canceled and now its bowl, too.
Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz wraps up his first season with a two-game skid and a 5-5 record.
“I am extremely proud of the fight and resiliency that our players have shown throughout this challenging season,” he said. “This is the eighth time in 11 games we’ve been faced with a schedule adjustment, but we’ve been able to fight through and finish while competing at a very high level throughout the season, which I believe shows the true character of our team.”