Mississippi's College Football Teams Will Play Saturday

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Mississippi college football teams have gotten the go-ahead from their respective leagues to play Saturday. The Southeastern Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference joined some of the lower division conferences Wednesday in deciding to keep to their weekend schedules. The question of whether games should proceed had been raised following terrorist attacks Tuesday in New York and Washington. ``Obviously many people felt the games should go on as planned and that it was a good way for America to begin coping with this tragedy,'' Mississippi center Ben Claxton said. ``So many people were touched by the events that took place this week. The thoughts and prayers of the Ole Miss football team and coaches go out to all of them.'' Those plans could change if a national day of mourning is declared or air travel restrictions make it impossible for teams to reach their destinations. Mississippi plays SEC rival Vanderbilt in Oxford. The Commodores are taking a bus down from Nashville. Southern Mississippi will travel by bus to Birmingham, Ala., to play Alabama. BYU has to fly from Utah to play Mississippi State in Starkville. SEC officials said in a statement the conference also will donate $1 million from weekend receipts and TV fees to help victims of the attacks. Fans at each event will be encouraged to make donations to funds for the victims. In addition, there will be a pre-game ceremony remembering the victims at each venue. ``I fully agree with having some way to recognize the people that have been hurt by this senseless act,'' Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill said.

In the SWAC, Jackson State plays Tennessee State at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. ``Everything is still a go for our game Saturday,'' JSU Athletic director Roy Culberson. Teams and personnel from both schools will be driving to Memphis. Tigers linebacker Elgin Andrews said the recent tragedy won't be a distraction. ``I'm really excited for (the game) even though all the problems are going on,'' he said. Alcorn State is at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State plays host to Alabama A&M in Itta Bena. SWAC interim commissioner James Franks said in a statement that he was requesting athletic directors to work closely with security to increase safety at each venue. Delta State, Mississippi College and Belhaven also will play Saturday. Delta State plays West Alabama at home. University president David Potter said Wednesday canceling the game was considered. He said playing ``makes the statement that as a society we're going to move on and restore normalcy to our lives to the extent that we can.'' Mississippi College plays East Texas Baptist in Marshall, Texas. MC Athletic Director Mike Jones said, ``I wouldn't be surprised,'' if all games were canceled, at the behest of the government. Belhaven plays at Cumberland in Tennessee.