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SEC to Adopt 10-Game, Conference-Only Schedule for 2020

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Season to begin September 26

SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The presidents of the 14 SEC schools agreed Thursday to adopt a 10-game, conference-only football schedule, reported first by friend of the site Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger and later confirmed by the SEC.

The season is scheduled to begin September 26th, while the SEC Championship Game will be pushed back to December 19th. While there’s no official word on which two teams will be added to the schedules, the thinking is that the schools will add the two rotating opponents scheduled for 2021 and 2022. In LSU’s case that would be hosting Tennessee and traveling to Kentucky. The push back of the SEC Championship game gives an extra buy week to all teams, presumably to be used if/when a game is postponed due to an outbreak.

This also means that Texas will not be making the return trip to Baton Rouge after last year’s epic 45-38 game. Nor will we see USC-Alabama in AT&T Stadium, Miss State-North Carolina State, Tennessee-Oklahoma, Ole Miss-Baylor, Notre Dame-Arkansas, Vanderbilt-Kansas State, Auburn-North Carolina, Texas A&M-Colorado and Georgia-Virginia; this also affects traditional end of year rivalries like South Carolina-Clemson, Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville and Georgia-Georgia Tech. This also cancels millions of dollars in Buy Game contracts, over $11 million in the state of Louisiana alone.

Interestingly, the pushed back start date of Sept. 26th, (58 days for those of you counting down) follows other conferences in being after the NFL’s planned start date of Sept 10th. Presumably, this is to let the NFL be the test bed to see if football can be safely done in the pandemic.

This announcement has been long expected. The Big 10 and Pac 12 announced earlier in July that they were going to adopt a conference-only schedule, while the ACC presented its plan yesterday: an 11-game schedule consisting of 10 teams in the ACC and one nonconference game that must take place in the schools’ home state. The ACC will not have divisions this year, while Notre Dame will play 10 ACC teams and will be eligible for the ACC Championship. The ACC’s plans are probably going to be further revised now, since the SEC’s hard line no-OOC stance means most of the ACC’s planned in-state OOC games (USC-Clem for example) are now out the window.

UPDATE

Per Dellenger, the league will use a different means of determining the two extra games, including using strength of schedule: