Florida lost to Michigan on Saturday, and with the Gators’ 33-17 defeat at the hands of the Wolverines at AT&T Stadium, Florida’s 27-year streak of winning season openers, which was the longest active one in the FBS, came to an end. Aside from Alabama-Florida State, it was the biggest opener of the college football season. And extra notable, because:
- Florida usually plays bad teams in its openers.
- Florida played away from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
- The opponent was a non-conference team that isn’t from Florida.
The Gators haven’t opened a season away from home since 1987.
That year, they lost at eventual national champ Miami, 31-4.
The Gators haven’t played a power-conference team in a season opener since 1992.
The list of teams Florida opened against includes minor independents, teams from Conference USA, FCS teams, lesser Mountain West teams, and so forth.
There was also that time UF was scheduled to open against eventual 1-10 Sun Belt team Idaho, except thunderstorms led to that game being called early, and still managed to open against MAC lightweight Eastern Michigan.
In 1992, UF hosted Kentucky and won by 16 against a team that finished 4-7.
The Gators hadn’t played a power-conference, non-SEC opponent in an opener since 1990.
The last non-SEC power-conference team to play UF’s opener was Oklahoma State in 1990. The Gators won at home, 50-7, and OSU went 4-7.
The Gators hadn’t played an actually good, power-conference team in an opener since 1989.
The last truly good team to face Florida to kick off a season was 1989 Ole Miss, which won in the Swamp, 24-19, before finishing 8-4.
Florida hadn’t lost an opener since that day 28 years ago.
There’s “not wanting to be tested too much in Week 1” scheduling, and there’s “not wanting to have to shower after the game” scheduling. Florida opted for the latter.
The Gators hadn’t traveled out of Florida for a non-conference game since 1991.
The last one was Sept. 21 of that year, when UF went to Syracuse and lost to No. 18 Cuse, 38-21. UF’s leading rusher that season was Errict Rhett.
You’ve got to play four road games a year in the SEC (for Florida, one of these games is taken up by Florida State), and there are no other Floridian teams in the conference. And there’s plenty of non-conference competition within state borders, with six other FBS teams and four in the FCS.
This will break that streak, but it’s still technically not a road game.
It’s a neutral-site match in Arlington, Texas, which is close to equidistant from Gainesville and Ann Arbor.
The Gators don’t have any non-Florida out-of-conference road games on their future schedules, either. They’ll play Miami in Orlando in 2019, and other than that, they’ve just got every-other-year trips to see FSU in Tallahassee, per FBSchedules.com.
Whether UF will ever go into a real road environment against a non-SEC team that isn’t from Florida remains to be seen. For now, JerryWorld will have to do.