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Excitement, tensions build as Austin expects 18k fans at first Longhorns football game
UT Longhorns conference season starts 9/26 vs. Texas Tech Raiders: Big 12 releases schedule

The excitement is building and tensions are rising as the University of Texas at Austin prepares for the first home game of its Texas Longhorns football team on Saturday—the largest gathering in Austin since the brink of the pandemic in March.


Game Week, the week leading up to the pre-season matchup against UT-El Paso—set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium—was marked by peppy "can't wait for Saturday!" posts on social media and cautionary messages from those who fear it will create another COVID-19 spike in Austin.

"It's Game Week! #HookEm" the UT athletics department tweeted on Monday, in a post that was shared 275 times.

On Wednesday, Austin Travis County Interim Health Authority Mark Escott asked students and fans to stay home and "avoid gatherings" after UT reported 100 cases as a result of three clusters of the coronavirus on West Campus.

"Let's watch football at home this year, and keep each other safe," he said.

Within 24 hours, UT Athletics posted: "2 more days, y'all!"

Longhorns will allow up to 18,000 fans to attend Saturday's game. Student attendees are required to get tested on Friday before being allowed in.

Some say that's not enough with Escott postulating that as many as 50 people could show up at the game with the virus and turn it into a super-spreader event.

The game comes at a time when university students are struggling with a new, limited, no-parties-allowed normal.

It also brings in much-needed revenue to universities and colleges that are struggling with layoffs, UT-Austin being no exception.

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