Despite rumors that LSU was preparing to host the Gators this Saturday in Baton Rouge, the Florida-LSU game will take place in Gainesville as scheduled.
The news comes in the midst of Hurricane Matthew, which has been swirling its way up through the Caribbean and is expected to hit the Sunshine State this weekend. The tropical storm has already affected one game in the area (UCF) and rumors about other games it would effect have taken off.
But Florida-LSU won’t be one of them- at least in terms of location. There was no way UF was going to give up this home game, not after it had already sold out and not with the season possibly hinging on this game. And there was no way in hell UF was going to let this game be played in Death Valley. One possibility I had heard of was playing the game in the Georgia Dome, as the Atlanta Falcons are away this week, but that was quickly tossed out because of the fact that both teams would have to travel. And with travel being the main problem this hurricane is causing, it made sense to have just one team travel.
Anyway, UF officials stated earlier this evening that the game remained on schedule to kick off at noon on Saturday in Gainesville. However, the timing of the kickoff could potentially be moved depending on the trajectory the hurricane takes and how severe it turns out to be.
And yet, the options are scarce. ESPN doesn’t want to move this game away from its noon slot (to later in the day) because the rest of its day is booked and pushing the game back to Sunday will kill their ratings because of the NFL- unless they do it at 9:30 Sunday morning, at which both schools would probably scream bloody murder. They could theoretically push it to Monday afternoon at 4:30pm or so to give them a cushion to work with before the Monday Night Football game. Push it to Tuesday or later, and they’re asking both teams to have a really short week before they return to the field next Saturday.
If the game time does get moved, it’s sure to be one that kills ratings, because at the end of the day, it’s Florida’s call, with the approval of LSU. It just might come at the expense of watching it on national TV. Or it might not!
UPDATE: The final decision is set to be made on Thursday at 1pm ET. That didn’t happen, and now it’s 3:20pm as of this update, which reads thusly: the status of the Florida-LSU game is still unchanged. As of 3:20pm on Thursday, the game is set to kick off at noon on Saturday in Gainesville.
There are reports of a conference call discussing what to do about this game ongoing between the SEC and the two schools as of this update, and I’ll post further updates when I get them.