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How the reported Florida-Utah series shapes the Gators’ future schedules

The Gators are going to keep adding exotic locales to their future dockets, it would seem.

NCAA Football: Idaho State at Utah Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators and Utah Utes will reportedly be playing a home-and-home series in 2022 and 2023, if The Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley and a suspicious release from BYU and Utah are to be believed.

Dooley tweeted out essentially that report on Monday:

That hasn’t been confirmed — or denied — since by Florida itself, but the Gators’ and Utes’ machinations are certainly buttressed by what BYU and Utah said in announcing a two-year break from its “Holy War” series with the Utes on Tuesday.

Brigham Young University and the University of Utah jointly announced today an extension of the football rivalry series between the two programs, adding four additional games to the current agreement.

As part of the extension, the Cougars and Utes have agreed to take a two-year break in 2022 and 2023, allowing Utah an opportunity to schedule a home-and-home series with an opponent from the Southeastern Conference, which is in the process of being finalized.

(The title of that release being “BYU AND UTAH ANNOUNCE CHANGES AND ADDITIONAL GAMES TO FOOTBALL SERIES” and BYU getting the front seat even in the version of the release on the Utah website — when it sure sounds like Utah is the driving force behind the changes — should not be lost on you.)

And for Florida’s part, the dates just make too much sense for the Gators to not be “an opponent from the Southeastern Conference.”

As I wrote when discussing Florida’s home-and-home series with Miami and other future scheduling plans, it looks to me like the Gators are stacking their home schedules without Florida State with games against Power Five foes.

A couple of patterns clearly emerge: Florida is scheduling marquee home opponents for years in which it does not host FSU (read: years with a maximum of six home games and no top-liner to drive season ticket sales), and the Gators are showing a preference for two-year home-and-home series.

While I wrote that in the context of suggesting that Florida might choose to head to a neutral site in 2021 and 2023, I also suggested that the Gators’ gap in 2026 and 2027 was ripe for a Power Five home-and-home — not noting that there was (and, until the formal announcement of this Utah series, is) a parallel gap in 2022 and 2023.

But if and when this series is officially on the ledger, Florida will have four home-and-home series with Power Five teams to play in its next 12 years, and one conspicuous gap.

  • 2022-23: Utah
  • 2024-25: Miami
  • 2028-29: Colorado
  • 2030-31: Texas

Given that the span of those series covers almost every other Power Five conference, and that the Gators play ACC foe Florida State annually, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of a home-and-home with a Big Ten opponent — or Notre Dame, deep in the Big Ten footprint — in the works for 2026-27.

(I also remain convinced that 2021 is a year ripe for Florida to again participate in a neutral-site game, even with a road — “road,” given how Florida fans will flock to Tampa — date with USF on the schedule, but I’d now be willing to bet 2023 doesn’t end up with such a contest on the board in addition to a road game at a Power Five school.)

And for all those fans of Florida and other programs fond of noting the Gators’ reticence to host Power Five schools other than Florida State or travel outside of Florida for non-conference road games, Utah getting into Florida’s home-and-home rotation is sure to secure a place in trivia questions.

Barring an unforeseen road game suddenly being swapped out for a currently scheduled game over the next five years, Florida’s trip to Utah in 2023 will be its first outside of the state for a true road game since a 1991 visit to Syracuse, and the Gators’ 2022 hosting of the Utes will be Florida’s first non-conference game against a team other than FSU or Miami in a current Power Five conference in Gainesville since (then-independent) Louisville visited in 1992 and first such game against a team in a power conference at the time (again, other than FSU or Miami) since Oklahoma State was the first opponent of the Steve Spurrier era in 1990.