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Florida’s 2019 schedule is one of college football’s most fascinating specimens

No way has there ever been a schedule with all of these features.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

I present to you Florida’s full 2019 football schedule:

  • Aug. 24 vs. Miami (in Orlando)
  • Sept. 7 vs. UT Martin
  • Sept. 14 at Kentucky
  • Sept. 21 vs. Tennessee
  • Sept. 28 vs. Towson
  • Oct. 5 vs. Auburn
  • Oct. 12 at LSU
  • Oct. 19 at South Carolina
  • Nov. 2 vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville)
  • Nov. 9 vs. Vanderbilt
  • Nov. 16 at Missouri
  • Nov. 30 vs. Florida State

Why is there a blog post on this site that’s exclusively about the Florida Gators’ 2019 football schedule?

Because it’s really weird, and I’m captivated by it in the same way I’m captivated by exotic wildlife and people who prefer Cool Ranch Doritos. Let me explain.

1. Florida is not starting its season with a home game against Northern South Dakota State Tech or some similar program.

The Gators have made an art form of starting their season with home games against cupcakes. They do it more than just about anyone. Before a loss to Michigan at AT&T Stadium to kick off 2017, they hadn’t started a season away from Gainesville since 1987 and hadn’t started against a power-conference team since 1992.

2. Florida has three bye weeks, which is literally impossible most years and required some weirdness to even be possible this year.

FBS teams are allowed 12 regular-season games. Generally, they can’t play their first games until the Thursday before Labor Day. They have to play their last regular-season games by the second weekend in December. But really, they have to play their last games by the weekend after Thanksgiving, because conference championships are the first weekend in December. Only Army and Navy play on the second weekend of December, in reality.

That means FBS teams get exactly one bye week pretty much every year. But every now and again, a year comes around in which the days of the week line up just right, with 14 Saturdays between Labor Day and the first Saturday in December, i.e. Championship Weekend. This is one of those years, which is why everyone could take up to two byes.

Florida, though, has three byes. The Gators and Miami somehow (read: because of ESPN’s money) got the NCAA to let them start their season in “Week 0” on Aug. 24, a week before most of the rest of the country gets going. That’s typically only an option for an FBS team if someone involved has a road game at Hawaii, but neither UF nor Miami does.

Has there ever been an FBS team with three byes in a regular season? The answer might be yes, because college football’s huge, but I’m strained to think of even one instance. It either almost never happens or literally never happens.

3. Florida is playing an FCS team off one of its bye weeks.

Thank heavens the Gators will have an extra week to prepare for their date with the UT Martin Skyhawks, who went 2-9 last year.

4. Florida’s playing another FCS team later. That’s two FCS teams, if you are keeping score at home.

The other is Towson, a good FCS program but an FCS program all the same. It’s not unheard of for a Power 5 squad to play two FCS teams in one season, but it’s quite weird. The NCAA only lets FBS teams count one FCS win toward bowl eligibility, which makes playing two a weird choice for a program like Florida that has options to play other opponents.

UTM was a somewhat late add to Florida’s schedule, with the game made public in February 2018, but still. Imagine if Florida somehow goes 6-6 and misses a bowl because it decided to play the Skyhawks instead of a garden-variety Sun Belt team.

5. Neither of Florida’s FCS games is during the famed SEC-SoCon Challenge week, which falls right before Rivalry Week.

At least this timing cannot repeat:

Sports Reference.

6. Oh, and Florida’s playing two neutral-site games.

The one in Orlando, plus the typical World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against UGA in Jacksonville. This is also not a never-before-seen thing. Florida did it in 2017, when it had Michigan in North Texas and then the Georgia game. But it is weird. Only Miami and Florida are doing it among FBS teams in 2019, with the Canes also playing FIU at Marlins Park, on the site of the now-demolished Orange Bowl they used to call home.

This is the Florida Man of college football schedules, and I appreciate it.

If there is any justice in this world, Florida’s season will be weird as hell.