Florida football schedule 2023: Gators open at Utah on Thursday, four night games to start season

By OnlyGators.com Staff
May 31, 2023
Florida football schedule 2023: Gators open at Utah on Thursday, four night games to start season

Image Credit: Courtney Culbreath, UAA

It won’t be airing on Amazon Prime, but the Florida Gators will be opening the 2023 season with some Thursday night football. Florida will begin Year 2 under head coach Billy Napier on the road against the Utah Utes in a game that was previously scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2 but will now kick off Thursday, Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. ET. This is part of four straight night games the Gators will play to begin the campaign.

No specific reason was provided as to why the Utes game was moved up three days given it was the most notable contest scheduled for that Saturday by a significant margin. Florida at Utah is now the signature game featured on the official kickoff day for Week 1 and one of just two games between Power Five opponents being played before the majority of FBS teams battle Sept. 2.

This marks the first time the Gators will play a regular-season game on a Thursday in more than 30 years (at Mississippi State on Oct. 1, 1992). Florida last took the field on a Thursday when it defeated Oklahoma in the 2009 BCS Championship Game to conclude the 2008 season.

It will also be the second time in the last five seasons that the Gators’ opening game has been pushed earlier than previously scheduled. Florida previously saw its Week 1 game against Miami played in Orlando pushed forward seven days to Week 0 in 2019.

UF last year played a regular-season game on Friday for the first time in program history when it visited Florida State in the final week of the campaign.

The Gators defeated a top-10 Utes team 29-26 to open the 2022 season in Gainesville, Florida. The only prior contest between the programs was a Florida 38-29 win over Utah in 1977. This season’s matchup will conclude the scheduled home-and-home series between the programs.

Beyond the Week 1 matchup, ESPN announced Wednesday that the Gators would play four straight night games to open the season. Most notably, Florida will host Tennessee on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. While the game has traditionally been played at 3:30 p.m. on CBS, the network instead chose to feature Georgia and South Carolina in Week 3.

DateGator BaitTime/ScoreTV/Rec.
8/31at Utah8 p.m.ESPN
9/9vs. McNeese7:30 p.m.ESPNU
9/16vs. Tennessee7 p.m.ESPN
9/23vs. Charlotte7 p.m.ESPN+
9/30at Kentucky
10/7vs. Vanderbilt
10/14at S. Carolina
10/28vs. Georgia3:30 p.m.CBS
11/4vs. Arkansas
11/11at LSU
11/18at Missouri
11/25vs. Florida St.

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