Florida football schedule 2020: SEC sets 10-game conference-only slate amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Adam Silverstein
July 30, 2020
Florida football schedule 2020: SEC sets 10-game conference-only slate amid COVID-19 pandemic

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

The SEC announced Thursday that it will play a 10-game, conference-only schedule in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Florida Gators will lose their annual in-state rivalry game that dates back to 1958 and add two additional SEC opponents to a schedule that was previously deemed one of most friendly for a College Football Playoff contender this season.

In addition to the eight conference games Florida was set to play in 2020 — six SEC East opponents, its cross-division permanent opponent (LSU) and its cross-division rotational opponent (Ole Miss) — two additional teams (almost assuredly from the SEC West) will be added to the schedule.

The 2020 SEC college football season will begin on Saturday, Sept. 26 in what was previously scheduled to be Week 4. There will be a midseason bye week for each SEC team along with a universal open date on Dec. 12 with the SEC Championship Game being played in Atlanta on Dec. 19.

Florida will lose its annual nonconference in-state rivalry game with Florida State. The Gators and Seminoles will not square off on the gridiron this season for the first time since 1957. This marks the first time that a UF-FSU game has ever been canceled as the teams played in 62 consecutive seasons.

With the season start date pushed back to Sept. 26, it is likely that at least some of Florida’s SEC games will be shuffled when the league announces its updated slate in the coming weeks. The Gators’ 2020 schedule as it currently stands is as follows:

Home: Kentucky, South Carolina, LSU, Missouri
Away: Tennessee, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Georgia (in Jacksonville)

There is also a possibility that the Florida-Georgia game gets shifted out of Jacksonville, though both Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin and Bulldogs counterpart Greg McGarity said Thursday that the goal of both teams is to keep the game as scheduled. UF and UGA have played in Jacksonville every year except two — when the stadium was under construction in 1994-95 — since 1933.

“I anticipate that game staying in Jacksonville and staying at that same date [of Oct. 31],” Stricklin said.

Florida will likely add two of Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Texas A&M — the four SEC opponents it is not currently scheduled to play — to its 2020 schedule.

One option the SEC possesses is to elevate each team’s next two cross-division rotational opponents (for the 2021-22 seasons) into the 2020 schedule. That would create a nightmare scenario for the Gators.

As a team with College Football Playoff aspirations and a relatively light schedule that many believed would help lead them toward retaking the SEC East in 2020, Florida would be forced to add games with Alabama and Texas A&M. Suddenly, the Gators would have one of the toughest schedules in the country this season, playing not only their own division but three of the four best teams in the SEC West.

Another option for the league is to use strength of schedule as an indicator for which games to add to the schedules, a one-off Band-Aid that would not affect future opponents. This could include only SEC West opponents not currently on the schedule or open up a potential home-and-home scenario with opponents currently on the 2020 slate.

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