Hurricane forces cancellation of two games involving ranked teams

Quarterback Will Grier (7) and West Virginia will not face North Carolina State on Saturday as scheduled.Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Two matchups involving top 25 teams were canceled because of the looming threat of Hurricane Florence approaching the Eastern Seaboard.

Saturdays games featuring No. 14 West Virginia at North Carolina State and No. 18 Central Florida against North Carolina were canceled on Tuesday.

Wake Forest also announced its Thursday night home game against Boston College has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. ET because of the impending hurricane. It will still air on ESPN.

An expected 1 million people were ordered to leave the coast in preparation for Florence, which reportedly could be one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the region in decades.

The National Hurricane Center said at 11 a.m. Tuesday that Florence remained a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130 mph. The hurricane is expected to intensify to near Category 5 status prior to expected landfall late Thursday or early Friday.

Hosting a major college football game is a massive undertaking that on a good day involves fans and thousands of state, local and campus personnel, including public safety officials, traveling from all over the area, North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement.

The current forecast for both the impact and aftermath of the hurricane would require those officials to divert critical resources from what could be much more significant duties. We cant know for certain the amount of damage the storm will inflict, but the sensible decision at this time is to not play the game.

Central Florida athletic director Danny White also said the primary focus was on safety, not football.

The priority must be safety for everyone in the path of the hurricane, White said in a statement. Having been through similar situations the past two years, we certainly understand this decision. We wish UNC the best of luck through this storm and for the rest of the year.

Central Florida was unable to play Georgia Tech last year after Hurricane Irma hit the Sunshine State.

North Carolina State said in a statement that it worked with officials from West Virginia University, the ACC and emergency management personnel to arrive at a decision in the best interests of the safety and well-being of fans, student-athletes and all parties involved.