At long last, the Florida Gators officially have a non-conference road game outside of the state of Florida on their future schedule.
Sure, that game is at Colorado in 2029, when Florida might be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its first national championship under Dan Mullen. But it’s on the board!
Florida and Colorado announced a home-and-home series for the 2028 and 2029 seasons on Wednesday, revealing that the Gators will host the Buffaloes in Gainesville on September 9, 2028, and then meet Colorado at Folsom Field in Boulder on September 8, 2029.
For some perspective, Tim Tebow will be 42 — and Steve Spurrier, hopefully, will be 84 — when the Gators venture to the Rocky Mountain State for what could be their first true non-conference road game since traveling to Syracuse in 1991.
And it’s also possible that the Gators — who did play a non-conference game outside Florida in 2017, at the Cowboys Classic against Michigan — will play another true road game deep in the heart of the Big 12 footprint shortly afterward, as Graham Hall of The Gainesville Sun noted in conjunction with Wednesday’s announcement.
#Gators announce a home and home series with Colorado beginning in 2028. Florida will also announce a home-and-home series with a Big 12 opponent at a later date, sources have told me.— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) May 8, 2019
a little more info: games will occur after Colorado series — unsure of announcement timeline, told plan is to announce series before release of 2020 schedule.— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) May 8, 2019
That series is widely expected to be a home-and-home arrangement with Texas, given Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte’s public remarks about trying to schedule games with the Gators in 2030 and 2031 and the two programs’ relatively towering statures in both their respective states and college football.
Florida’s series with Colorado, meanwhile, brings together teams that have accrued “four national titles and 35 conference crowns” — Florida has three and eight of those; Colorado has one and 27, though just six of its conference titles have come since World War II, and the majority date to its time in the long-defunct Colorado Football Association and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference — but never met, to quote Florida’s release. This series is also likely to situate the Gators as favorites, given that Colorado’s fortunes have turned since peaking as a Big 12 contender near the turn of the 21st century.
Since a 10-3 campaign that included a Big 12 championship and a rout of then-No. 1 Nebraska in 2001, Colorado has just one 10-win season — and that 10-4 mark in 2016 is also Colorado’s lone winning record since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.
But Folsom Field is regarded as one of college football’s most scenic venues.
Should Colorado remain in the Pac-12 as of 2028 — and, y’know, who knows? — it will almost certainly be Florida’s first meeting with a Pac-12 program in football in decades. The Gators last met a team in the current Pac-12 in December of 1989, when they played Washington in the Freedom Bowl; Florida’s last meeting with a Pac-12 team in the regular season came in 1983, when the Gators completed a home-and-home series with USC with a 19-19 tie in Los Angeles.
And given that there are no bowls pitting Pac-12 and SEC teams at present, Florida would seem unlikely to see a Pac-12 team between now and 2029.
Of course, the Gators making themselves regular participants in the College Football Playoff — and the Pac-12 getting a team included in that field, no given — could change that in a hurry.