SAN DIEGO — Tuesday night’s Holiday Bowl at Petco Park between N.C. State and UCLA has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Bruins’ program.
The cancellation — the fifth overall this bowl season — happened with less than five hours before the 8 p.m. ET kickoff.
“The UCLA football team is unable to participate in tonight’s San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bruins’ program,” the program said in a statement Tuesday.
The Hawaii, Military, Fenway and Arizona bowls have already been canceled due to virus outbreaks leaving teams without enough available players.
Wake Forest had to scramble to find a replacement for Texas A&M and will now face Rutgers in the Dec. 31 Gator Bowl, while Central Michigan relocated from the canceled Arizona Bowl and will replace Miami (Fla.) as Washington State’s opponent in the Sun Bowl.
BOWLS: Complete schedule, results for 2021 bowl season
SUN BOWL: Central Michigan replaces Miami, will face Washington State
N.C. State seemed to have avoided any pandemic issues, arriving safely in San Diego on Dec. 23 for its Holiday Bowl matchup against UCLA (8-4).
The No. 18 Wolfpack (9-3) end the 2021 season short of 10 wins for the first time since 2002 against a Bruins team playing in its first bowl game since 2017.
There was an immediate online reaction from N.C. State players.
Quarterback Devin Leary tweeted “ain’t no way.”
“Get us a game to help us get this 10th win,” Wide receiver Thayer Thomas tweeted.
“Gonna cancel 5 hours before the kick?! Spent Christmas away from home, practiced for a month, had family fly across the country to watch the game.. smdh,” receiver Porter Rooks tweeted.
David Thompson covers NC State and Duke athletics for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @daveth89.