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The Alligator Army Weekly Open Thread, Vol. XCIII

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Digging out is no fun. A weird week does give some space to do it, though.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday. But you try writing while so tired that you end up taking a six-hour nap on Monday because your body just cannot stay awake.

There is still more recap stuff coming from this weekend, but I’m in a hole and digging out, so please bear with me on that.

This is a weird week for the Florida Gators, and for us: Instead of playing an SEC team after playing Kentucky and Tennessee to open SEC play, the Gators get FCS Towson — an FCS power, sure, but an FCS team nonetheless. Florida has played both Kentucky and Tennessee in September in each of the last 11 seasons; never has a non-conference game come after both of those clashes, though one has occasionally broken up the dyad (Colorado State last year, North Texas in 2016).

You can’t find a time when Florida-Tennessee’s “Third Saturday in September” scheduling was followed by non-conference games, either, because the teams weren’t playing annually prior to 1992. Saturday — both in terms of being the fourth Saturday of the month and September 27 — will be the latest that Florida has played a non-conference game in September since 1968, when the Gators traveled to Florida State for a 9-3 win.

How long ago was that? The Seminoles were coached by Bill Peterson — and that win gave Florida an 8-2-1 advantage in the series.

Florida has played a fair few third-Saturday-in-September non-conference games over the decades, both like the Colorado State one and not, but this year’s August and September schedule stands more or less alone in program history from the marquee opener on down.

If Florida beats Towson on Saturday, though, things swing back to the familiar: The Gators’ rugged October schedule could end up being legendarily tough.

But the Gators could also be national championship contenders in the thick of it. And that would be a welcome return to what was, too.