The nation will get an up-close look at the 22nd-ranked University of South Florida football team as scheduled on Friday night.
After assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma in the Tampa Bay area, school officials announced Tuesday that the game against Illinois will be played at Raymond James Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN.
“After consulting with university leadership and the Tampa Sports Authority, we are confident that Friday’s game can proceed safely as scheduled without impacting the recovery efforts,” Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “Our thoughts remain with all of those impacted by the hurricane in Florida and elsewhere, and we express sincere gratitude to all first-responders for their efforts.”
USF (2-0) had its American Athletic Conference opener at Connecticut canceled last week because of travel concerns as Irma made its way toward Florida.
Before resuming workouts on Tuesday, the Bulls hadn’t practiced since Thursday and haven’t played since a 31-17 win over Stony Brook in their home opener on Sept. 2.
Illinois (2-0), led by former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith, is coming off a 20-7 victory against Western Kentucky.
USF also announced Tuesday that complimentary admission to Friday’s game will be provided to first responders and their families as well as to Florida high school football teams, many of which have had their games postponed or canceled because of the storm.
“It’s all about us giving back,” USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “We want to make sure that everyone is working to give back and get their life (together). It’s going to take a while, we know that. When things happen, we just want to make sure people understand that we do understand. We’re not going through what they’re going through, but we can help them get through what they’re going through.”
Elsewhere around the state:
▪ Saturday afternoon’s SEC showdown between Florida and Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS) will be played at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville as scheduled.
There had been talk that the game could be moved to Knoxville, Tenn., or Atlanta if the teams couldn’t play at The Swamp.
“While we know how important it is for this campus and the Gainesville community to host a game, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those that have been impacted by the storm, and we are thankful for the support Floridians have received during this time,” UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said.
The Gators (0-1) canceled last week’s home opener against Northern Colorado, the third game at the Swamp the Gators have lost in the past four seasons. The 2014 season opener against Idaho was canceled because of rain, lightning and unsafe conditions for players and fans, and last season’s game against LSU was postponed and moved to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Matthew hit the state. As a result of the LSU game being moved to Nov. 19, UF had to cancel a home game against Presbyterian scheduled for that date.
▪ The showdown between Florida State and Miami scheduled for Saturday night was rescheduled for Oct. 7, previously an open week for both programs. That means both teams will go three weeks between games.
After having last week’s home game against Louisiana-Monroe canceled, FSU (0-1) is scheduled to return to action at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 23 against visiting N.C. State in the Seminoles’ ACC opener.
Miami (1-0), which canceled last week’s trip to Arkansas State as Irma made its way toward South Florida, hosts Toledo at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 23. The UM campus is closed this week.
▪ With Central Florida’s football stadium being used as a staging area for the National Guard, UCF’s home game against Georgia Tech on Saturday was called off. With back-to-back games canceled, including last week’s scheduled AAC opener against Memphis, the Knights (1-0) are left with only 10 games this season.
Who: Illinois (2-0) at South Florida (2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
TV/radio: ESPN/820 AM