Sometimes it’s best to keep things in-house.
That was the conclusion of the Southeastern Conference when it announced this past Friday it will schedule in-conference games only for the 2020 college football season.
In a statement, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey called the scheduling move an anomaly.
“We made every effort to create a schedule that is as competitive as possible and builds on the existing eight conference games that had already been scheduled for 2020. This schedule is a one-year anomaly that we have developed under unique circumstances presented by the impact of COVID-19.”
In most cases, the SEC swapped out two out-of-conference games for two in-conference games. The first game of the season is slated to take place Sept. 26.
The Florida Gators’ official schedule
The Gators schedule for the 2020-21 season is as follows, barring any future cancellations or postponements:
- Week 1 (Sept. 26): At Ole Miss
- Week 2 (Oct. 3): South Carolina
- Week 3 (Oct. 10): At Texas A&M
- Week 4 (Oct. 17): LSU
- Week 5 (Oct. 24): Missouri
- Week 6 (Oct. 31): Bye
- Week 7 (Nov. 7): Georgia (in Jacksonville)
- Week 8 (Nov. 14): Arkansas
- Week 9 (Nov. 21): At Vanderbilt
- Week 10 (Nov. 28): Kentucky
- Week 11 (Dec. 5): At Tennessee
University of Florida Athletic Director Scott Stricklin called the scheduling changes a “solid framework” given the circumstances.
“Given all the unknowns we face, today’s announcements regarding the SEC initial COVID-19 management requirements, along with the identification of two additional opponents in football, provide a solid framework with a goal of giving our teams the opportunity to compete in a healthy environment during the 2020-21 school year.”
No showdown with FSU
The biggest news coming from the schedule change is that the Gators will not play in-state rival Florida State. The spirited Gators-Seminoles matchup will ride the bench this year in favor of in-conference opponents.
The cancellation is a first for the rivalry, which dates back to 1958 when the Gators beat the ‘Noles 21-7 in Gainesville.
The Gators lead the all-time series 36-26-2. However, their record against the Seminoles at home is far better than their road record: 21-12-1 versus 14-13-1.
In that sense, the cancellation is beneficial because this year’s game was scheduled to take place in Tallahassee.
However, the Seminoles are in the midst of a rebuilding phase, which would’ve meant an easy matchup. The road game that replaced Florida’s showdown with Florida State presents a much tougher opponent.
Away game at Texas A&M added
Whereas the Florida Seminoles weren’t in the top-25 preseason rankings, the Texas A&M Aggies are 13th in ESPN’s preseason poll.
Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher is certainly no stranger to the Gators’ program. Fisher led Florida State to a national title in 2013, steamrolling the Gators 37-7 along the way.
The FSU-for-Texas A&M trade does not work in the Gators’ favor. Not only is the opponent tougher but the travel time is longer and the travel itself is likely to be more complicated because of the pandemic.
Looking ahead: Will the SEC postpone football?
This week, news broke that the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences postponed their fall 2020 sports until spring. The news sent shock waves through the sports world and, almost as quickly as the news broke, speculation about the SEC emerged.
However, Sankey said on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week that the SEC has no plans to shut the league down and that they’ve gone beyond the health requirements the NCAA implemented.
“Our medical advisory group has said, ‘Yes, we can continue to go forward,'” Sankey said. “The indicators are we can right now do what we were doing in a healthy way … as we move forward, we hope, toward competition with no assurances that that actually will take place.”