A pep fest will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on John P. Monahan Plaza to put all Tommies in the proper mood for Saturday’s St. Thomas-Saint John’s football showdown and a national television pre-game broadcast.

The pep fest will feature St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan, football coach Glenn Caruso and players, cheerleaders, dance team and Tommie the mascot. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple at the pep fest, and an undergraduate student Fanamaniac T-shirt promotion will begin at noon for the first 500 students.

“The pep fest is a great opportunity to show your Tommie spirit, support our team and be part of a national broadcast,” said Michelle Morgan, associate athletic director. “We want to fill the plaza with our fans and show the country how proud we are of St. Thomas.”

An ESPN SportsCenter On the Road bus also will be on Monahan Plaza. ESPN crews will film the pep fest and the rest of the campus, with plans to broadcast promos leading into the network’s live pre-game show from 6-8 a.m. Saturday in Clemens Stadium at Saint John’s.

The trip will be SportsCenter On the Road’s first extensive visit to a Division III campus. The show aired last Sunday from the New England-Buffalo NFL game, and has provided live pre-game coverage from the Notre Dame, Michigan and Boston College campuses this year.

Preparations for the game also are in full swing at Saint John’s, where Athletic Director Tom Stock had this to say in a St. Cloud Times story on Tuesday:

“Tommies week is really the grandest stage in all of Division III athletics. Nothing bigger happens in terms of the combination of fan interest, media exposure and work involved than when Saint John’s and St. Thomas play each other in football.”

ESPN pre-game show will be free

A St. Thomas contingent of cheerleaders, the dance team and Tommie will travel to Saint John’s for the early-morning broadcast on Saturday. All fans are welcome to attend the show, which is free and open to the public. Saint John’s will open the gates to the stadium at 5 a.m.

Campus parking lots will be open to the public until they are full. Visitors then will be directed to off-campus parking lots, with bus shuttle service provided to campus. One-way bus service also will be provided, beginning at 5 a.m., from the Gorecki Center at the College of Saint Benedict.

The stadium will be cleared at 8 a.m., after which ticket windows will open for the game. Tickets will cost $8 for visiting students and $10 for adults, and the stadium will open to ticket holders at 10 a.m. Reserved seats are sold out but general admission tickets will be available and will not sell out.

For fans planning to attend only the game, Saint John’s advises that they carpool because on-campus parking will be limited, and they should arrive by 11 a.m. Officers will direct traffic into campus and off-campus parking lots, with shuttle service provided to the campus.

Administrators at both universities urged fans to exhibit sportsmanlike conduct that has long been the hallmark of NCAA Division III and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.

“We ask everyone to be mindful about exercising good sports conduct, respecting all in attendance and representing our university in a positive manner,” Dr. Karen Lange, vice president for student affairs at St. Thomas, wrote in a Newsroom column earlier this week. “We want to create a positive experience for you, our guests, parents, alumni and friends.”

“The Tommie-Johnnie football game has a long, storied and successful tradition that draws enormous crowds,” a Saint John’s website story says. “As SJU prepares for this Saturday’s game, we are making every effort to maintain a safe, fun and family-friendly environment for our visitors.”

Tailgating will be allowed on campus, with parking spaces available on a first-come, first-claimed basis. Open-flame fires, including fire pits, will be prohibited. Propane and small charcoal grills will be allowed for cooking, and all coals must be extinguished. Consumption of alcohol for those of legal drinking age will be allowed while tailgating, but only in Science Lots 1 and 2.

And finally, the game!

Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. between Saint John’s (3-0, ranked No. 8 in Division III by www.d3football.com) and St. Thomas (2-0, ranked No. 12). The game also can be seen on the Saint John’s website or heard on WCCO 830 AM.

This will be the 84th meeting of the football teams and the 63rd consecutive meeting in a series that began on Thanksgiving Day in 1901 in St. Paul. This also will be the 10th time in the last 11 seasons that at least one of the teams is ranked in the top 10 heading into the game, and the first time in the 13-year history of the www.d3football.com poll that both teams are ranked in the Top 12.

The Tommies are 3-4 against Saint John’s under Caruso, winning in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but losing the last two years. The visiting team has won the last three games, including a 43-21 St. Thomas victory at Saint John’s in 2012, when the Tommies finished second in Division III with a 14-1 record.

St. Thomas opened its 2015 season with lopsided wins over UW-Eau Claire (62-7) and UW-La Crosse (51-7) before a bye last weekend. Saint John’s defeated MIAC foe Concordia-Moorhead 24-16 on Saturday after nonconference wins over Dubuque and Buena Vista.

Caruso’s weekly WCCO Radio show will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at Buffalo Wild Wings, 80. N. Snelling Ave., St. Paul, and can be heard live on WCCO. If customers mention they are from St. Thomas, the restaurant donates 10 percent of their bill to the Tommies’ Athletics Department.

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