Update, October 23: Michigan has released its 2016, 2017, and 2018 football schedules, and Florida's not on the 2017 slate. Rats, right? But that 2017 schedule has a conspicuous "OPEN" entry on September 2, where the leaked schedule has "vs. Florida," and lists just 11 opponents — all of which match the leaked schedule's listings.
So Michigan and Florida might well be waiting to announce a big neutral-site game.
Original post follows.
The Big Ten released its future schedules for 2018 and 2019 on Wednesday, but, as FBschedules.com notes, the really interesting thing about the release came in a PDF that was published, then yanked — which listed, among other things, a game against Florida as Michigan's opener for the 2017 season.
That PDF was saved by Penn State's student paper, The Daily Collegian, and you can see it embedded here:
As you can see if you scroll down to 2017, Michigan's entry for September 9, 2017 is "vs. Florida," suggesting a neutral site game against the Gators. Wisconsin's three announced neutral site games against LSU and Alabama in 2014, 2015, and 2016 are all listed with the "vs." caveat.
Florida tends to be tight-lipped with its scheduling, and doesn't release much about its schedules beyond next year in any given year — we know Florida's full 2014 schedule, but we only know that Florida's 2015 schedule includes New Mexico State, Florida Atlantic, and that its 2016 slate includes North Texas and Massachusetts — even though it's very likely that Florida will keep Florida State on its schedule beyond 2014.
And Florida's been averse to neutral site games in the regular season aside from its annual trip to Jacksonville to play Georgia for a long, long time — the last time Florida played at a neutral site in the regular season, other than in the Florida-Georgia game, was in 1989, when the Gators blanked Mississippi State 21-0 in Tampa. Florida's last plausibly "neutral" site regular season game came in 1984, when it met Miami in Tampa. And Florida's last "true" neutral site game — one played in a state neither team called home — was a 1943 matchup against Maryland in Washington D.C.; if that doesn't count, then it's a 1940 game against Auburn in Columbus, Georgia.
A neutral site game against Michigan would make sense as a blockbuster season-opening game for both teams in the vein of previous non-conference games in Atlanta and Dallas. (Michigan played Alabama at Cowboys Stadium to open its 2012 season.) And Michigan's confirmation of a future series with UCLA, which listed on that leaked schedule, lends some legitimacy to the idea of a Florida-Michigan game being a reality.
We've emailed a Florida spokesman for comment, and will update if and when we hear back.
Update, 1:30 p.m., October 17: A Florida spokesman provided this comment to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports:
"We don’t know our future schedule beyond next year, we are waiting until the SEC finalizes future schedules beyond 2014 before we move forward."
That, I'll note, is far from a no.
More from Alligator Army:
- Florida vs. LSU, The Difference: 11 takeaways from the Gators' dispiriting loss
- Chomping at Bits: Kelvin Taylor and the importance of learning pass protection
- Florida vs. LSU: 25 predictions, reviewed
- Chomping at Bits: Are the Florida Gators finished this year?
- Florida vs. LSU: Gators' defensive playcut just gets pushed around a lot