vs. No. 13 Louisiana State (0-0)
Saturday, 7:30 p.m. MDT New Orleans Superdome
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
PROVO — As Houston copes with catastrophic flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, Saturday's game between BYU and No. 13 Louisiana State has been moved to the Superdome in New Orleans.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. MDT, the same time the game was scheduled to be played at NRG Stadium in Houston.
“First and foremost, we are keeping the citizens of the Houston region, and the thousands of first responders, in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming and events. “Ultimately, the decision was made to move forward with the relocation. Efforts are underway in New Orleans and we will work with the fans, the Superdome, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and both schools throughout the week to ensure the most optimal game day experience for all.”
BYU tight end Matt Bushman can empathize with the destruction, devastation and displacement caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
At the age of 9, Bushman and his family fled their home in New Orleans after the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The family relocated to Arizona.
Bushman knows what Houston residents are going through.
“Whenever these natural disasters happen, I definitely have a soft spot for the people affected in my heart,” Bushman said Monday. “When Hurricane Katrina happened … it was tough. Our house didn’t get completely destroyed but it got messed up … . I feel for the families in Houston. It’s hard but I know they’re strong people. They’ll bounce back. I wish the best — our thoughts, prayers and concerns go out to them.”
Bushman remained in Arizona as a youth and went on to become a football and baseball star at Sabino High in Tucson before signing with the Cougars and serving an LDS Church mission to Chile.
Before Monday's announcement, Bushman said that he would love to return to New Orleans in a showdown against Louisiana State.
“That would be awesome,” he said. “The last time I went back was in the eighth grade. Growing up we were always BYU fans. But being from New Orleans, we cheered on LSU also.”
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe expressed hope that Cougar fans would be able to attend the game at the Superdome.
“We are sorry for the disruption to BYU fans who purchased tickets and made travel plans for Houston,” Holmoe said in a statement. “We hope many of you will be able to make necessary changes to join us in New Orleans to cheer on the Cougars. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people in South Texas who are currently facing the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.”
BYU defeated Tulane, 54-3, at the Superdome in 2009.
Other sites considered for the BYU-LSU game included Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, home to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans; Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, home of the Orlando Citrus Bowl; EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, home to the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars; and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.
Monday afternoon, before the new game site was announced, BYU coach Kalani Sitake wasn’t caught up in the uncertainty of where the game will be played.
“The main concern is the people in Houston. We hope everyone is safe and that things can get taken care of down there,” he said. “We’re not really worried about the football game. People come first. We’ll figure out the rest later.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said his team’s focus is on BYU and the situation is not a distraction.
“Wherever they tell me we're going to play, we're going to get the team ready to go and compete like Tigers,” Orgeron said.
LSU right tackle Toby Weathersby told reporters Monday that his grandparents are stuck in their water-logged home in Houston. He added that they are refusing to leave on rescue boats. Over the weekend Weathersby said he nearly drove from Baton Rouge to Houston to help his grandparents.
BYU wide receiver Talon Shumway served his mission in the Texas McAllen Mission, located south of Houston.
“I’ve been in contact with a few people to see how they’re doing. There’s definitely some concern there,” Shumway said. “It’s been pretty devastating to some people. We’re concerned about that. We’re really hoping things are turning around for South Texas and the people down there.”
BYU safety Tanner Jacobson, who hails from the Dallas area, expressed his concern for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s sad to see. It’s flooding. I’m sure it’s hard for people to get food,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Houston right now. Hoping they stay Texas tough. It’s definitely on our mind, for sure.”