Update, Thursday afternoon: LSU vs. Florida has been postponed.
The menacing approach of Hurricane Matthew is forcing evacuations from Florida to the Carolinas.
Apparently, though, that won't include the LSU-Florida game.
LSU's annual meeting against Florida will not be moved to Baton Rouge or a neutral site, UF confirmed Wednesday afternoon, though the game time could shift to Saturday evening, LSU president F. King Alexander told The Advocate.
Hurricane Matthew is barreling through The Bahamas and is projected to scrape along Florida's Atlantic coast. But Gators officials were adamant against moving the game, Alexander said, a position Florida made clear with a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"The game will not be moved out of Gainesville."
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"We are working closely with local, state and University officials as well as the Southeastern Conference office to monitor the progress of Hurricane Matthew and its potential impact on campus and the safety of the fans," a statement released by the University of Florida read. "As of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the game is still scheduled to be played on Saturday at noon (EDT) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. A final decision on the start time of the game will be made by 3 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday as we continue to monitor the storm."
The game between the Tigers (3-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) and the No. 18-ranked Gators (4-1, 2-1) is scheduled to be televised on ESPN.
By Wednesday night, most of the Florida peninsula was blanketed by a combination of hurricane and tropical storm warnings and watches. Gainesville was under a tropical storm watch and is expected to experience tropical storm force winds (39 mph or greater) as late as Friday night.
Though the game time could shift to later Saturday, playing Sunday is not a likely outcome, Alexander said.
Alexander said Wednesday that LSU has made no preparations to host the game and that those would have needed to begin by Wednesday night.
Despite Hurricane Matthew barreling toward Florida, football is still slated to be played in…
"We can’t just turn the lights on" in Tiger Stadium, Alexander said. "We have 450 police officers working our games. They have duties and shifts."
Despite a 38-28 loss at Tennessee two weeks ago, the Gators are still in the hunt for the SEC East championship. That and the fact the game is sold out were factors in Florida's decision not to change venues, Alexander said.
LSU's travel plans will change, Alexander said. The team will likely fly into Tampa instead of Ocala, Florida, 30 minutes south of Gainesville.
LSU's Tiger Marching Band announced on its Twitter account Wednesday afternoon that it will not perform at the game because of the storm.
"Tiger Band will not be attending the Florida game this Saturday due to the Hurricane concerns," a message on the LSU Bands Twitter account. "Our prayers for those bracing and/or affected by Hurricane Matthew."
This marks the third time in the past two seasons that an LSU game has been impacted by weather.
Almost exactly one year ago, South Carolina moved its home game with LSU to Tiger Stadium on Oct. 10 because of severe flooding in that state. That decision was made on the Wednesday before the game.
In addition, LSU’s 2015 home opener against McNeese State was canceled because of lightning from a severe thunderstorm. It was the first LSU game canceled since the 1918 season was wiped out by World War I.
Matthew, a killer storm that has already made landfalls in Haiti, Cuba and The Bahamas, was packing 115 mph winds as of Wednesday's 4 p.m. CDT advisory. The center of the storm was projected to move along Florida's Atlantic coast and pass east of Gainesville on Friday afternoon. Gainesville is about 75 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean at its closest point.
The storm, which is expected to threaten the Carolinas after its encounter with Florida, could also impact the Georgia-South Carolina game in Columbia. It is also slated to be played as scheduled at 6:30 p.m. CDT Saturday, though South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she could not provide any state troopers to work the game. University of South Carolina officials will man the game with local sheriff's deputies but didn't rule out the possibility of the game being moved to another date.
Tulane's game at Central Florida in Orlando has been postponed, however. The teams will meet instead on Nov. 5.