Lightning delays start of Miami Hurricanes’ game vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Al Diaz/

The Miami Hurricanes’ game against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday did not start on time because of lightning in the vicinity of Hard Rock Stadium and Miami Gardens.

A nearby storm sent both Miami and Middle Tennessee back to their locker rooms, and fans back to the concourses with about half an hour until scheduled kickoff. The game ultimately kicked off about 15 minutes late, at 3:45 p.m.

A message on the big screen said there was “inclement weather in the area that includes lightning.” The storms in the area were not related to Tropical Storm Ian, which is bearing down on Florida and expected to make landfall on the state next week. Another storm came through the area earlier in the day and left parts of the parking lots and tailgating areas around the stadium flooded.

For the No. 25 Hurricanes, this is the final nonconference game of the season and the last game before a bye week. The Hurricanes are off next weekend, then return next month for eight straight Saturdays of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents to finish out the regular season.

When the game kicks off, Miami will be without star tackle Zion Nelson, who was not dressed during warm-ups, but was also not wearing a visible brace of any kind. Fellow offensive lineman John Campbell Jr. is expected to start his fourth straight game at left tackle.

The Hurricanes are also without wide receiver Jacolby George, who made his season debut last week following a two-game suspension, but then injured his hand and is now out indefinitely.

It was still raining at kickoff, setting the stage for Miami to lean on its rock-solid rushing attack — and perhaps posing more challenges for quarterback Tyler Van Dyke and the Hurricanes’ struggling passing attack.