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Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
PROVO — Amid the devastation delivered by Hurricane Harvey that has flooded the city of Houston and killed at least five people, BYU's upcoming game against No. 13 Louisiana State, scheduled for Saturday at Houston's NRG Stadium, is expected to be moved to a different location.
Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, is coping with torrential rain and unprecedented flooding from Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm. But the National Weather Service is forecasting up to 50 inches of rain in the region.
The streets around NRG Stadium are flooded and NRG Park is set to be an emergency operations center. Meanwhile, Houston's two airports are closed to due the catastrophic conditions. President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Houston this week.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva told The Advocate Sunday that the game "almost certainly" won't be played in Houston. A decision, and an announcement, about the status of the game could come as early as Monday.
As first reported by SB Nation, officials from BYU, LSU and ESPN discussed Sunday the possibility of changing the location of the game from NRG Stadium in Houston to a site like New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome, LSU's Tiger Stadium, AT&T Stadium in Dallas or, much less likely, LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
Sunday night, BYU's athletic department administration released the following statement: "Most importantly, our thoughts and concerns are with the people in South Texas who are facing the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. We pray for their safety and well-being at this difficult time.
"Many have inquired regarding the status of the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff between BYU and LSU, scheduled to be played this Saturday, Sept. 2, at NRG Stadium in Houston. We are in discussions with all parties involved and continue to monitor the situation. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please join us in praying for the people in South Texas who need our love and support."
Athletic director Tom Holmoe tweeted Sunday: "Cougar Nation, All parties involved are working on a solution to our scheduled game with LSU this weekend. We will announce plans when final ... Cougs, Pray for the people of Houston who are suffering and scared. I trust you know we'll study all the best options to work out the game."
This is the third time in three years that LSU has dealt with weather issues impacting its games. It's the seventh time in 13 seasons a hurricane has disrupted the Tigers' football schedule.
BYU wide receiver Talon Shumway served in the Texas McAllen Mission. Several cities in that mission, like Corpus Christi and Rockport, located south of Houston, were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
"I've seen people from my mission posting things about what's going on," Shumway said Saturday after the Portland State game. The Cougars defeated the Vikings, 20-6.
Saturday's scheduled game between BYU and LSU game would mark the first meeting between the two programs. For the Tigers, it's their season-opener. According to The Times Picayune, LSU will receive $4 million from ESPN to play BYU.
The Advocate reported the the New Orleans Superdome notified NRG Stadium officials that the Superdome is available next Saturday. The NFL's New Orleans Saints are scheduled to play a preseason game there Thursday but Superdome officials said the venue could be ready to host the BYU-LSU game.
BYU played at the Superdome in 2009, when the Cougars throttled Tulane, 54-3. The Superdome is located 80 miles from LSU's campus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As for the game against LSU, BYU coach Kalani Sitake is looking to help his team improve after a sluggish performance against Portland State.
"We'll enjoy the win, fix the mistakes and try to do better next week," Sitake said. "It's been said that a lot of improvement happens between Week One and Week Two and I look forward to that being true."
"It's good for us to play and see what we can work on. We can use it to our advantage to be able clean things up and be even better this next week," said quarterback Tanner Mangum. "We're obviously very excited for the challenge to play LSU next week. We're excited for the opportunity. We're looking forward to learning from this game and move on to next Saturday."
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