The Florida Gators and LSU Tigers have played one of college football’s wildest rivalries over the last decade or so, one that vaulted to a new level of significance and fan stridence when last fall’s scheduled meeting in Gainesville was scrubbed by Hurricane Matthew, then moved to Baton Rouge, with recriminations and allegations aired out by both sides.
But the Gators will get their first home game against LSU in three years on October 7, 2017 — and they liked the thought of that enough to make the game Homecoming, officially announcing the decision on Thursday.
Florida has used LSU as a Homecoming opponent before, doing so in 1996 and 2006 — perhaps not coincidentally, the first two national championship seasons in Florida history — but has often played Homecoming games against lesser teams in recent years. 2016’s Homecoming foe was Missouri, reprising a 2014 meeting between the two teams in which the Tigers thoroughly skunked the Gators, and the last three odd-numbered years — 2011, 2013, and 2015 — saw Florida take on Vanderbilt in a Homecoming matchup.
Getting LSU on its home schedule in an odd-numbered year, though, is an unusual coup for Florida — and it created a schedule in which Florida’s only returns from away games are oddly timed. Florida opens its 2017 campaign in Texas against Michigan — it will never behoove Florida to hold Homecoming in the second game of the season unless Gainesville were 20 degrees cooler in early September — and travels outside Florida only once in September or October, for a road game at Kentucky, making the only true “homecoming” possibilities that second game against Northern Colorado, another September date with Vanderbilt, or its home finale against Florida State in November.
Given that, it makes sense for Florida to fudge that aspect of Homecoming a bit, and set its sights on having an utterly rabid crowd in town for yet another revenge game against LSU — which the Gators have bested at home just once since 2008, in a 2012 slugfest.
The more than 90,000 fans in attendance on October 7 will be overwhemingly in favor of Florida getting another one of those victories.