With Hurricane Florence approaching the Carolinas, the West Virginia-NC State, East Carolina-Virginia Tech and UCF-North Carolina games scheduled for Saturday have been canceled, it was announced Tuesday.
Virginia Tech (No. 13), West Virginia (No. 14) and UCF (No. 18) are all ranked in the Top 25 heading into Week 3 action.
In a statement, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham called it "the sensible decision at this time'' with Florence's projected path carrying the storm through the state.
More than 5.4 million people live in areas now under hurricane warnings or watches on the U.S. East Coast, according to the National Weather Service. Another four million people are under a tropical storm watch. Assorted bad weather advisories stretched from Florida to Maine on Tuesday evening.
President Donald Trump declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. He said the federal government is "absolutely, totally prepared" for Florence. All three states ordered mass evacuations along the coast.
At 2 a.m., the storm was centered 625 miles (1,005 km) southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina, moving at 17 mph (28 kph). Strengthening is forecast through Wednesday. It was a potentially catastrophic Category 4 storm but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 mph (253 kph) or higher.
This is the second straight season that a hurricane has forced the cancellation of a UCF game against a Power 5 opponent. Last season, UCF was unable to play Georgia Tech after Hurricane Irma hit Florida.
"The priority must be safety for everyone in the path of the hurricane," UCF athletic director Danny 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."
UCF and North Carolina are looking at the feasibility of rescheduling for this season, but that remains highly unlikely. So does the prospect of replacing North Carolina with another team on the schedule.
In a statement, NC State said 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."
NC State and West Virginia officials will try to reschedule the game. If they cannot, NC State will look for a replacement game to fill out the home schedule.
East Carolina, meanwhile, decided not to travel to Blacksburg, Virginia, for Saturday's game, citing imminent safety concerns before, during and after the storm. ECU said it hoped the game could be rescheduled for later this season.
Wake Forest also announced its Thursday night home game against Boston College has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. because of the impending hurricane. It will still air on ESPN. But officials at both schools and the ACC will continue to monitor the storm and make future adjustments if necessary.
"Our top priority is the safety of everyone involved and I appreciate the understanding of our fans," Virginia athletics director Carla Williams said. "We're extremely grateful to Vanderbilt University ... for graciously supporting our efforts."
Duke announced all weekend athletic home events are canceled as well. The football team will leave for its road game at Baylor on Thursday, one day early, because it is their best opportunity to leave North Carolina before the storm hits.
In other college football games affected by Hurricane Florence:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.