Joaquin pushes Michigan at Maryland game to noon

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jehu Chesson and the Wolverines open Big Ten play Saturday at Maryland.

The Big Ten opener in prime time, Michigan at Maryland, had been heavily promoted by the Big Ten Network, but Joaquin had something to say about it.

Hurricane Joaquin, on the radar of Big Ten officials since Tuesday when it was a tropical storm potentially heading toward the Eastern seaboard, including the Mid-Atlantic States that include Maryland, forced a change in kickoff.

No. 22 Michigan and Maryland are playing at noon on Saturday at Byrd Stadium after the Big Ten, Michigan and Maryland worked collaboratively to make the decision in the interest of safety because of looming Joaquin-related weather issues. The announcement was made Thursday just after noon.

The game will be carried at noon on BTN and also on BTN2Go, and the Nebraska-Illinois game that was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. will now start at 4:02.

"The weather experts are still dealing with uncertain probabilities for the course of Hurricane Joaquin," Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett said in a release. "Thus we remain vigilant on developments and will err on the side of safety for all participants and fans."

In advance of potential damaging weather from the projected heavy rains and flooding and the possibility of landfall from Joaquin, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency on Thursday ahead of heavy rains. By declaring a state of emergency, state agencies can begin preparations for potential widespread problems.

BTN already had announced on Wednesday morning that the studio show that was going to broadcast live from outside Maryland's Byrd Stadium had been canceled.

This is the second time this season a Maryland game has been affected by weather. The Terps and Bowling Green endured a lengthy delay on Sept. 12 because of lightning in the area.

Michigan originally was scheduled to take charter flights to Maryland mid-day Friday, but their travel plans have been adjusted to accommodate an earlier departure that day.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, during his weekly appearance Thursday morning on the "Stoney and Bill Show" on 97.1, said he had been keeping track of the storm. He said the decision to move the kickoff was up to the home team.

"So we've been told it's our responsibility to get there and be there and God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll be there," Harbaugh said, using a phrase he often says.

John Harbaugh might join Jim on UM sidelines

Joaquin has strengthened but experts are tracking it heading East. According to a story in the Washington Post on Thursday, while it may not make landfall in that area, "one thing does look certain: extreme rainfall totals are likely for large parts of the Eastern Seaboard, if the storm tracks close to the coast or inland."

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA.gov) projects heavy rain and high wind gusts on Friday and a 70 percent chance of showers with wind gusts as high as 29 percent on Saturday in the College Park, Md., area where the game will be played.

Michigan coaches this week said playing in the rain is not an issue.

"We're kind of a water-proof team, I think," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said Wednesday before practice. "So it's not something we're really concerned about.

"We'll play anywhere. We'll play on the moon or Mars. They found water there, so maybe that's our next spot."

Harbaugh, on the "Stoney and Bill Show", was asked if the team does any drills to prepare for the wet conditions.

"Make sure you hold onto it tight," Harbaugh said. "It's really one of the best, exciting things that I've found for players in all of sports. To go on the road you have to defeat another team, their crowd is a factor, you have to defeat that, and then the trifecta is defeating the elements. If you can do all three of those things, at least in my opinion, in my experience, there's nothing that will make more like a man than that. We've got that opportunity."