Florida, USF, UCF move home games before Ian

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — USF, UCF and the Florida Gators took action to salvage this weekend’s home football games as Hurricane Ian approaches.

what you need to know

  • The Gators will now play in Eastern Washington on Sunday at noon
  • UCF will play their game against SMU on Sunday at 1 pm
  • South Florida moved its Saturday game against East Carolina to Boca Raton

The Gators moved their game against Eastern Washington from Saturday to Sunday at noon.

UCF’s home game against SMU will be pushed back from Saturday to Sunday. It is scheduled to begin at 1 pm and will air on an ESPN network to be determined.

The Bulls moved their Saturday game against East Carolina from Tampa, Florida, to Boca Raton.

Stetson canceled its home game against San Diego scheduled for Saturday in the Pioneer Football League.

Meanwhile, 23rd-ranked Florida State and 22nd-ranked Wake Forest are “closely monitoring” the storm and hope to play as planned Saturday in Tallahassee.

“As always, the safety of student-athletes, game personnel and fans will be our top priority,” said FSU athletic director Michael Alford.

Florida will play on a Sunday in the swamp for the first time in school history. The Gators played on a previous Sunday afternoon: the 1977 Sun Bowl, a 37-14 loss to Texas A&M.

The impending hurricanes have prompted the Gators to postpone previous games later in the seasons. Hurricane Charley postponed the 2004 season opener against Middle Tennessee State, and Hurricane Matthew postponed a visit from LSU in 2016.

Hurricane Ian is now added to the list. The storm is expected to hit the southwest coast of the state on Wednesday. It hit western Cuba on Tuesday as a major hurricane, with nothing to stop it from intensifying into a catastrophic Category 4 storm before reaching Florida, where authorities ordered the evacuation of 2.5 million people before it crashes to earth on Wednesday.

Universities across the state closed campuses for the week. But football is big business and a much-needed source of income for many. Playing the game nets Eastern Washington $750,000, a significant payday for a school with an athletic budget of about $17.5 million.

The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved their football operations to the Miami area Tuesday in preparation for Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Buccaneers are expected to practice at the Dolphins’ training complex in Miami Gardens beginning Wednesday. So far, there have been no changes to that game, which is scheduled for Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

“We are not discussing any potential (relocation) sites,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday. “We continue to monitor the storm and are in constant communication with the clubs and local authorities. A decision could be made as late as Friday.”

Also in Tampa, the Rays have other concerns besides clinching a wild-card spot in the American League. Opening a three-game series in Cleveland, players and coaches were on the lookout for the impending hurricane. The Tampa Bay-St. The Petersburg area was last directly hit by a hurricane in 1921.

“Watching the news, watching the computer,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I know the Bay Area has been pretty lucky for many, many years, but just thinking of everyone there and hopefully people have done the right thing to prepare and wherever it goes, it doesn’t hit as hard as speculation.”

Meanwhile, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning postponed preseason games scheduled to be played at home Wednesday against Carolina and Thursday against Nashville.

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