Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday morning on the west coast of Florida. It has forced changes to this weekend’s college football schedule across the Southeast.
No moves have been made to ACC games that could be impacted by the storm. No. 10 NC State is scheduled to play at No. 5 Clemson on Saturday night, No. 22 Wake Forest visits No. 23 Florida State on Saturday afternoon and North Carolina hosts Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon.
No. 10 NC State at No. 10 Clemson (Saturday, 8 p.m.)
The Wolfpack are planning to charter to Greenville, South Carolina a few hours earlier on Friday, but otherwise remain on track to play one of the biggest games in school history. NC State will bus to Clemson on Saturday and plan to fly out of Greenville after the game.
Head coach Dave Doeren was part of the Wolfpack’s memorable 10-3 home victory against Notre Dame in 2016 during torrential rain from the remnants of Hurricane Matthew.
“I hope we don’t have to play in something like that Notre Dame game,” Doeren said earlier this week. “That was nuts.”
ESPN’s College GameDay is scheduled to broadcast from Clemson in the morning, a huge national spotlight for both teams and the ACC.
Virginia Tech at UNC (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Head coach Mack Brown opened his press conference Wednesday by expressing support for the people of Florida, pointing out that a number of staff and players hail from or have family in the state.
“They’ll be some light rain and it’ll be windy, but seems like everything’s in place for us moving forward to play the game,” Brown said.
UNC and Virginia Tech played during the remnants of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Virginia Tech defeated the Tar Heels 34-7 in wet conditions. North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham told WRAL this week that “in hindsight, I don’t think we should have played that game.”
But the athletic department plans to play Saturday.
“Saturday’s football game between North Carolina and Virginia Tech at Kenan Stadium is still scheduled to be played, as planned,” the athletic department said in a statement. “Carolina Athletics is working with University, local and state officials to closely monitor Hurricane Ian and its potential impact on Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas.”
Games moved or rescheduled
– East Carolina’s game against South Florida has been moved from Tampa to Boca Raton.
– Fayetteville State moved its game against Chowan University to Thursday.
– North Carolina Central’s game at Campbell has been moved to a noon kickoff Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
– South Carolina moved its home game against South Carolina State to Thursday night due to the hurricane.
– Florida’s home game against Eastern Washington, scheduled for Saturday, was moved to Sunday at noon.
– SMU’s game at UCF was moved to Sunday at 1 p.m.
Wake Forest at Florida State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)
Florida State athletics director Michael Alford said in a statement Tuesday that the school is “confident that we will be able to safely host Saturday’s football game against Wake Forest at its scheduled time.” He said there was a briefing with authorities, university administration, transportation officials, security, law enforcement and emergency responders Tuesday.
Much of the Florida panhandle appears to be out of the storm’s path, but conditions in other parts of the state are much worse.
“You certainly hope the ACC office makes the right decision,” Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson said Tuesday. “If they don’t, we will. We’re not going to travel down there and put anybody at risk.
“… If we feel there’s any danger to our players going down there, we’re not going to go.”
Clawson said the home team and the league office have the first decisions, then the visitor gets input. In 2017, Florida State’s game with Louisiana-Monroe was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. The game was later rescheduled for December as Florida State chased bowl eligibility.
“At any point, Florida State can say, ‘No. We’re not playing.’ Or the ACC can say it and then our say doesn’t matter,” Clawson said. “If they say they feel they can host the game and it’s safe and the ACC feels that way, then it’s in our hands whether we feel traveling is safe.”
He said the considerations go beyond traveling to the site. Wake Forest plans to charter into Tallahassee for the game.
“It’s not just the flight,” Clawson said. “It’s the hotel. Does it have electricity? Are they going to be able to feed us? You can’t just go down there and not have food. If all those things are checked and we feel it’s safe and the ACC determines that it’s safe and we feel that it’s safe, then there will be a game.”
Clawson said the week reminded him of the 2020 COVID season when many games were up in the air during the week. He said he did not know of a deadline to make the decision.
“We want to play,” he said. “We absolutely want to play, if it’s safe and appropriate.”
Triangle teams played during Hurricane Matthew
NC State and UNC played home games on Oct. 8, 2016 with the remnants of Hurricane Matthew bringing heavy rain to the Triangle.
Before the game, Doeren said he discussed alternative game plans in case the weather made a traditional plan impossible.
“Maybe we won’t even be able to throw a pass,” Doeren said. “How are we going to win? So we talked about things like that.”
The Wolfpack did pass, but only 14 times for 41 yards in the win. Notre Dame attempted 26 passes, but managed just nine completions and 54 yards through the air. A blocked punt returned for a touchdown keyed the Wolfpack’s win.
In Chapel Hill, Virginia Tech whipped UNC in another game without much passing. UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky passed for 58 yards on 33 attempts. Virginia Tech had 75 passing yards in bad weather conditions.
“In hindsight, I don’t think we should have played that game,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham told WRAL on Monday.
Cunningham said the process for moving or canceling a game begins with conversations with the opponent, whose travel could be impacted, and game officials. Then, UNC considers whether it can safety host the game. The conference also weighs in.