ESPN takes over Collegeville for Tommies-Johnnies game

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It isn't high-major college football, but there's virtually no better rivalry in the state – in any sport – than the football tug-of-war between St. Thomas and St. John's.

The bitter rivals will meet for the Holy Grail Trophy in Collegeville, Minnesota, on Saturday at 1 p.m., and ESPN's "SportsCenter on the Road" will broadcast live from the campus, diving into each school's rich history during its 6-8 a.m. broadcast, according to TommieSports.com.

It's expected to impact traffic as well.

The Minnesota State Patrol says motorists should plan ahead if traveling I-94 near Collegeville Saturday. The game is expected to draw a large crowd and, like it has in previous years, that could affect traffic on the freeway.

There will also be increased trooper presence in the area.

WCCO reports that the average attendance for a St. John's home game is 9,000 fans, but with ESPN joining the party, the attendance on Saturday is expected to climb to 14,000. Extra bleachers have been added to Clemens Stadium.

ESPN will not televise the game, but it will be streamed live on the Johnnies' website.

"When they have the background of a St. Thomas and a St. John's rivalry, we love to do those," ESPN executive Michael Fountain said in an interview with the Pioneer Press. "It gives us the chance to take the rest of the country to somewhere a lot of them may not know about, may not have heard about and may not get to."

The Johnnies (3-0) are ranked ninth in the latest NCAA Division III poll while the Tommies (2-0) are 15th in the nation.

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The Tommies and Johnnies first met in 1901. Saturday's game will mark the 84th meeting in the rivalry's history. The Johnnies lead the series 51-31 and there has been one tie.

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