Hurricane recovery enough for Florida to host Tennessee

No. 24 Florida and 23rd-ranked Tennessee will play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, the SEC announced Tuesday.

After assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida's campus and the surrounding areas, and evaluating the available physical and personnel resources necessary for Saturday, Gainesville was deemed fit to hold the game this weekend.

"The University of Florida has been diligent in assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Gainesville community and has made a thoughtful decision in moving forward with the game," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "We appreciate the communication, coordination and cooperation among the many agencies and groups necessary to produce a game in a safe environment.

"Our prayers remain with the people of Florida as well as Texas as they recover from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey."

According to the Associated Press, 13 million Florida residents are without electricity. The AP also said six people have died in Florida because of Irma, and three have died in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

"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," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement.

With cleanup continuing throughout the week in and around Gainesville, fans are advised that traffic may be heavier than normal and are encouraged to arrive to the game early. The league also suggested that fans should also enter the stadium early to reduce delays and long lines at the gates.

The University of Florida will also provide fans an opportunity to contribute to hurricane relief efforts at the game.

"We appreciate the communication from both our friends in Gainesville and the conference office as this assessment was made," Tennessee athletic director John Currie said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Irma and other recent storms throughout the SEC footprint, and we're grateful for the opportunity to travel to Florida this weekend."

The Gators (0-1) will host Tennessee (2-0) at 3:30 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on CBS. After losing 11 straight to Florida, Tennessee will be looking to beat the Gators in back-to-back games for the first time since 2003-04.