GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With Hurricane Irma’s path shifting further west and the entire state of Florida looking to be impacted, the Florida Gators announced Thursday canceled their home opener against Northern Colorado that set for Saturday .
This news comes one day after the school initially moved up the kickoff time to noon from the original 7:30 p.m. start time . The game will not be rescheduled.
But at the end of the day, there are more important things than a football game.
Every possible effort was made to play this game, but given circumstances, playing game wasn’t right thing to do. Stay safe, Floridians. https://t.co/zGVbqKshet
— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) September 7, 2017
Irma is currently a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds maxing at about 175 mph, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Thursday afternoon . Irma is the strongest hurricane historically in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, according to their records.
Based on the projected path , which could still vary over the next couple days, the storm is expected to ride straight through the Florida peninsula. Gainesville could start experiencing tropical storm-force winds as early as Saturday night and get the full brunt of the storm between Sunday night and Monday. The Florida Keys as well as Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Pinellas Counties all have mandatory evacuations.
The Gators also have more than 30 players from the South Florida area , which is expected to experience the hardest impact of the storm once it makes landfall on Sunday.
On the football side of it, though, this marks the third time in four years a Florida home game was impacted by a hurricane or severe weather. Last season, the Gators had to reschedule their game with LSU due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew, which resulted in the cancellation of Florida’s final home game of the season against Presbyterian. In 2014, Florida’s home opener against Idaho was declared a “no contest” due to a severe thunderstorm. The Gators also had their season opener in 2004 against Middle Tennessee State rescheduled for their bye week because of Hurricane Frances.
The Gators (0-1) will now head into SEC play against Tennessee next week without a win and searching for any semblance of momentum as they attempt to make it to the SEC Championship Game for a third straight season. Florida is coming off a one-sided, 33-17 loss to Michigan in its season opener that showed glaring holes in the Gators’ offense, which mustered just 192 total yards.
It also makes Florida’s handling of the quarterback battle a little more interesting. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks was supposed to start against Northern Colorado before coach Jim McElwain and the rest of his staff re-evaluated the position battle.
For now, though, the priority is safety and ensuring those who could be impacted by the hurricane are able to get the help they need.
“We were ready to play a game and get that taste out of our mouth,” McElwain said on his weekly radio show after the announcement was made. “At the same time, you realize there are a lot of things bigger in life than third down and six.”
The post What the Northern Colorado game cancellation means for Florida football appeared first on SEC Country.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.