COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on college sports, with the latest impacting Wake Forest and its matchup in the Gator Bowl. Per several reports, Texas A&M is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and will not be able to play in the Gator Bowl.
Because of a COVID outbreak, Texas A&M is unable to play in the Gator Bowl, sources tell @SINow. Aggies don’t have enough available players.
Gator is searching for a replacement bowl team, sources say, but the only way that's possible is if another bowl is impacted.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) December 22, 2021
Wake Forest currently does not have an opponent and officials are trying to find a replacement team, per ESPN. According to the same report, Wake Forest still wants to play in the Gator Bowl.
The Deacons are 10-3 and finished atop the Atlantic Division in the ACC. Back on Dec. 4, Wake Forest lost to Kenny Pickett and Pittsburgh in the 2021 ACC Championship game.
According to college football insider Brett McMurphy, the Gator Bowl could replace Texas A&M with a 5-7 program — based off APR. The bowl game reached out to Rutgers, apparently. However, from a practical standpoint, it’s hard to find a team that finished 5-7 that has spent the last 2-3 weeks practicing.
Gator Bowl could have replaced Texas A&M w/a 5-7 team based on APR, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. Rutgers had 1st option, but declined. Other not expected to accept. “How many 5-7 teams have been practicing or are still in school? None,” source said
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 22, 2021
Illinois (5-7) from the Big Ten is a possible and willing opponent.
Another option being discussed: adding an opponent that’s already played in a bowl game. According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo, this is another possibility. It would require a waiver process, but technically: this could actually happen.
Gator Bowl officials are going to exhaust all options to put on a game. Wake Forest (10-3) really wants to play after one of the best seasons in school history.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 22, 2021
Either way, Wake Forest needs to know by Friday (Dec. 24) if the Gator Bowl can find an opponent.
Update: 8:26 p.m., est:
Wake Forest is likely to play Rutgers (5-7) in the Gator Bowl now.
— James Kratch (@JamesKratch) December 23, 2021