Tennessee vs. Florida

For years Florida has refused to move its football game with Tennessee from late September to late November because the Gators didn't want to play the Vols and in-state rival Florida State on back-to-back weekends.

For years the Southeastern Conference has given the Sunshine Boys their way. The only exception was in 2001, when a catastrophe (the 9-11 terrorist attack) forced the Gators to agree to a late-season showdown. The result was one of the greatest games of the decade, with Tennessee winning a 34-32 thriller that wasn't decided until the final seconds.

Although that '01 game was a rousing success, the SEC apparently has given up trying to pair Tennessee and Florida in another title-deciding showcase matchup. But I haven't. In fact, I've found a ridiculously simple way that the Gators and Vols could meet in late November this year.

Step 1: Move the Florida game from Sept. 20 to UT's Nov. 15 open date, then switch Wyoming from Nov. 8 to Sept. 20.

Step 2: Move Florida's game with South Carolina from Nov. 15 to Sept. 20.

This would be Tennessee's revised schedule:

Sept. 1 at UCLA

Sept. 6 open date

Sept. 13 UAB

Sept. 20 Wyoming

Sept. 27 at Auburn

Oct. 4 Northern Illinois

Oct. 11 at Georgia

Oct. 18 Mississippi State

Oct. 25 Alabama

Nov. 1 at South Carolina

Nov. 8 open date

Nov. 15 Florida

Nov. 22 Vanderbilt

Nov. 29 Kentucky

ADVANTAGES: Tennessee gets all four non-conference foes out of the way early, so its last seven games are against SEC opponents. The Vols avoid playing Florida and Auburn back to back in September. Tennessee and Florida play a late-season showdown with the SEC East title at stake, instead of an anti-climactic early-season game. The Vols play eight games between open dates, instead of nine.

And here's a look at Florida's revised schedule:

Aug. 30 Hawaii

Sept. 6 Miami

Sept. 13 open date

Sept. 20 South Carolina

Sept. 27 Ole Miss

Oct. 4 at Arkansas

Oct. 11 LSU

Oct. 18 open date

Oct. 25 Kentucky

Nov. 1 Georgia (Jacksonville)

Nov. 8 at Vanderbilt

Nov. 15 at Tennessee

Nov. 22 Citadel

Nov. 29 at Florida State

ADVANTAGES: Florida plays Tennessee late but still gets a breather (The Citadel) the week before its rivalry game against Florida State.

The winner of the Tennessee-Florida game has gone on to claim the SEC East title 10 times in the 16 years since the league adopted divisional play in 1992. Clearly, having the teams build toward a climactic late-season meeting makes a lot more sense than having them collide in September.

And, as the preceding paragraphs clearly show, setting up such a showdown wouldn't be all that difficult.


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