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LSU-Florida postponed due to hurricane; Georgia-S.C. rescheduled

College Football, NHL, Florida Gators, LSU Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Miami Hurricanes, North Carolina Tar Heels, Virginia Tech Hokies, Charlotte 49ers

MIAMI -- The looming impact of powerful Hurricane Matthew prompted the Southeastern Conference on Thursday to postpone the LSU-Florida football game, which had been scheduled for Saturday in Gainesville, Florida.

Later Thursday, the conference announced that the Georgia-South Carolina game scheduled for Saturday in Columbia was moved to Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. 

The SEC said efforts would be made to reschedule the LSU-Florida game, though the Gators and Tigers do not have a common open date.

Earlier Thursday, U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana urged Florida Gov. Rick Scott to intervene in hopes that the Florida-LSU game would be either moved or rescheduled.

Matthew was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane late Thursday morning, with top sustained winds of 140 mph. The storm was blamed for more than 200 deaths in Haiti alone, and officials in Florida urged residents to prepare for what could be widespread and massive damage.

"The developments of the hurricane in the last 24 hours, the projected magnitude of its impact and the unknown aftermath of this storm have resulted in this decision to seek another date to play the LSU-Florida game," the SEC said in a statement. "We have to be sensitive to the possible imminent disruption to the state of Florida and in particular the Gainesville and surrounding area."

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said the SEC made the final call on postponing the game.

"I know there will be a lot of opinions about how we came to this conclusion and when we came to the conclusion, but this is the right decision," Foley said.

This is the second consecutive season in which LSU has had a game affected by a hurricane. In 2015, the Tigers' road game against South Carolina instead was moved to Baton Rouge because of Hurricane Joaquin.

On Thursday, the SEC Network also canceled its live SEC Nation broadcast from Gainesville and will instead do the show from its Charlotte studios.

Other teams have made adjustments as the storm is expected to traverse nearly the entire length of Florida's Atlantic coast beginning Thursday evening. From there, forecasters said, the hurricane is expected to push along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina before veering out to sea.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the Georgia-South Carolina game was moved back one day "in the best interest of safety."

"Due to the potential impact of the hurricane on Columbia and the surrounding area, it is in the best interest of safety to play the game on Sunday rather than Saturday night," Sankey said Thursday. "I appreciate the cooperation of the schools who worked closely to make the appropriate operational adjustments in order to accommodate this change in the schedule."

The Georgia-South Carolina game will air on the SEC Network.

For now, No. 23 Florida State's game at No. 10 Miami is still on as scheduled for Saturday night. Officials from both schools say they are continuing to monitor developments and are discussing contingency plans.

"Our hope is to be able to play at Hard Rock Stadium," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "Obviously, things can happen that prohibit that."

Florida Atlantic, which is practicing across the state in Tampa, has opted to move its football game against Charlotte from Saturday to Sunday, although FAU -- which is located in Boca Raton -- cautioned that Sunday's date is tentative. Further assessments will be made once the storm clears South Florida, likely sometime Friday.

"Supporting our community, state and region is the current focus of FAU athletics," FAU athletic director Pat Chun said.

No. 17 North Carolina said it expects to play Saturday's game in Chapel Hill vs. No. 25 Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m., as scheduled. The school will continue to monitor the weather forecast and provide updates.

The NFL said it is conducting contingency planning for two Week 5 games: Tennessee at Miami (Sunday) and Tampa Bay at Carolina (Monday).

"We are in close contact with local and state authorities about the Hurricane," the NFL said in a statement. "As always, our overriding concern is for public safety and not doing anything that will divert important resources away from communities that may be in distress." 

No decisions on both games are expected until Friday, at the earliest, the NFL said. 

The NHL's Florida Panthers, who play home games in Sunrise -- directly in the storm's predicted path -- were able to practice Thursday morning, and coach Gerard Gallant said he and his wife would ride the storm out in their condo near Fort Lauderdale.

"Lots of peanut butter, jam, lots of bread," Gallant said, listing off some of the provisions he stocked up for the storm, which he said was bigger than any other he has dealt with previously. "Hopefully it's not an issue."

In other cancellations, postponements and possible adjustments related to Hurricane Matthew:

* The Tampa Bay at Florida NHL preseason game, which was scheduled for Thursday and postponed earlier this week, will not be made up.

* MLB officials are keeping watch as the forecast for Game 2 of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and host Washington Nationals on Saturday could be impacted by rain. AccuWeather says there is an 81 percent chance of rain with heavy showers in the afternoon. The game begins at 4:08 p.m. ET.

If necessary, Game 2 could be moved to Sunday, which is scheduled as a travel day in the series.

* Friday's East Coast Hockey League preseason game in Estero, Florida, between the Orlando Solar Bears and Florida Everblades has been canceled.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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