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Rita prompts football game changes

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans canceled Thursday's practice and asked all players to leave town immediately, Rice and Houston postponed home games scheduled for Saturday, and Texas A&M has moved up its game against Texas State, in anticipation of Hurricane Rita reaching the Texas Gulf Coast this weekend.

Houston coach Dom Capers said the Texans, who have a bye this week, were looking at alternatives that include practicing next week in Cincinnati before the Texans' game on Oct. 2 against the Bengals.

Also, the New Orleans Saints, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, are bracing to have their plans rearranged again. Coach Jim Haslett said team officials were considering flying to Minneapolis on Friday instead of Saturday to avoid any weather problems in San Antonio. The Saints play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"We'll make that decision later, when we see where it's at," Haslett said.

The Aggies will play Texas State Thursday night instead of Saturday.

Rice was scheduled to play Navy, but on Wednesday the game was rescheduled for Oct. 22. Houston was to play Southern Mississippi on Saturday. No makeup date was announced, but school officials said they were looking at Nov. 12 or 13.

To make room, the SMU-Houston game originally scheduled for Nov. 12 was postponed to Nov. 19, when both teams have an open date.

The Golden Eagles play at Marshall on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

"We are getting a lot of practice addressing hurricane-related contingencies. Fortunately, we have had excellent communication and we are getting great cooperation from our members," Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement.

Southern Miss has already had a game against Tulane postponed by Hurricane Katrina.

The I-AA game between Northwestern Oklahoma and McNeese State scheduled to be played in Lake Charles, La., was canceled.

The Category 4 storm, packing winds of 145 mph, is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast of Texas early Saturday.