Poor air quality stemming from wildfires forced the University of Oregon to move its football practice out of Eugene and to the Pacific Coast on Tuesday, and there is concern the issues could affect Saturday afternoon's game against Nebraska.
The Huskers are slated to face the Ducks at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a game televised nationally by Fox at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, but the air quality in the area was rated "hazardous" by the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency on Tuesday morning, the worst level of the air quality rating system.
By Tuesday evening, the readings in Eugene had improved slightly to, "unhealthy." The area forecast shows a slight potential for rain Wednesday and a better chance Thursday, which, along with wind-pattern changes, could help conditions improve.
In a statement to The Oregonian on Tuesday morning, the Pac-12 said, "Oregon and Oregon State have been working closely with the relevant region air protection agency, the Pac-12, and their own medical personnel to monitor and assess the air quality situation since fires broke out and they will continue to do so. Based upon the information provided by the air protection agency and the expert health and safety advice of the respective University medical professionals, a decision will be made on whether or not to adjust game times and/or dates with the safety of student-athletes and fans as a priority."
Huskers coach Mike Riley said Tuesday on the Big Ten's weekly coaches teleconference that he didn't have any further information.
"I was talking to my daughter the other day about the fires and the smoke in the (Willamette Valley), so I'm not surprised by it," he said. "Then I read an article about it this morning, too."
Riley said school officials may be in touch with Oregon officials, but he's not aware of any specific communication. A school official confirmed Tuesday evening that there hadn't been any official talks between the schools so far.
"What I know enough about in these type of situations is you just plan for what's ahead of us and adjust if need be," Riley said.
Huskers offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, who spent nine years as an assistant at Oregon State with Riley, said he could not recall a time when smoke endangered a game.
"I don't think I can remember that one," he said. "I've got a lot of friends and family that are close out there and they said it's pretty bad. Hopefully we'll get to play it."
The Journal Star asked the Big Ten for comment but had not received a response by Tuesday evening.
The Ducks moved their Tuesday practice an hour from Eugene to the coastal town of Florence.
Smoke in the area caused enough concern before the Ducks' season opener against Southern Utah that the schools held a conference call with medical officials before playing.
The Huskers aren't the only Big Ten team set to play in the state. Minnesota visits Oregon State at 9 p.m. Saturday in Corvallis.