The Florida Gators are set to start their 2020 football season late, only taking the field in late September — but if they make it to the field, they’ll also be starting it early.
As in at noon.
Florida’s Week 1 contest at Ole Miss on September 26 and its Week 2 home opener against South Carolina on October 3 are each slated to kick off at noon, per the SEC’s Tuesday release of select times and broadcast partners for the 2020 schedule. Both games are set to be televised by ESPN.
That first game — the first SEC game of the 2020 schedule, at least for now — opening in Oxford and thus in the Central Time Zone would put Florida in the unenviable position of beginning its season before noon local time for at least the first time in decades and perhaps the first time ever. The Gators last played in the Central Time Zone in a season opener in 1977, when Cris Collinsworth set a still-standing and yet-unequaled record for the longest touchdown pass in program history with a 99-yard completion in a 48-3 rout of the Owls, but it is unclear when that game kicked off.
Back-to-back nooners to open the 2020 season would also be an unwelcome return to scheduling from years past, as Florida has not started a season with consecutive noon-hour games since 2013, a season that definitely went well.
Florida’s game with LSU, set for October 17, also got an assigned kickoff time — but that time, 3:30 p.m., will not be accompanied by the customary CBS spotlight, as the game will be aired by either ESPN or ESPN2. CBS is set to air Georgia’s visit to Alabama in its 3:30 slot on that day instead, which the SEC announced in a separate release of several of the CBS showcase games for 2020.
Florida’s only game currently set to air on CBS, meanwhile, is the one that always does: The Florida-Georgia game is slated to kick at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on November 7.