Florida Gators Add Arkansas, and Feleipe Franks, along with Texas A&M for 2020 SEC Schedule

Feleipe Franks will return to The Swamp, in a different uniform, in 2020. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

The Florida Gators 2020 football schedule will now include the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas A&M Aggies, the SEC announced on Friday. The change comes after the league shifted to a 10-game conference only schedule to protect athletes and staff against the spread of the pandemic COVID-19.

Each team received two additional cross-divisional opponents to accompany the eight that were already on their schedule.

In a release by the University of Florida, Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said,

“The SEC office and Commissioner Sankey have worked tirelessly to help its member schools and our student-athletes move forward given unprecedented circumstances; from putting together detailed medical plans, guaranteeing scholarships for athletes who wish to opt-out, to plotting a course for what seasons and schedules could look like.

“Given all the unknowns we face, today’s announcements regarding the SEC initial COVID-19 management requirements, along with the identification of two additional opponents in football, provide a solid framework with a goal of giving our teams the opportunity to compete in a healthy environment during the 2020-21 school year.”

Feleipe Franks pictured here during his last starting home game in the Swamp in 2019. Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd

Dan Mullen and team will travel to Texas A&M to play in College Station for the first time since 2012. The Razorbacks—and former Gator quarterback Feleipe Franks—will travel to The Swamp.

The Gators and Razorbacks last met in 2016 in Fayetteville, where Arkansas earned a 31-10 victory. Florida leads the overall series, 9-2, with UF downing Arkansas, 30-10, in the last meeting in 2013 in Gainesville.

Speaking of Franks, he makes a relatively mundane game suddenly rife with storylines. The former Florida starter was famously injured in the third game of the 2019 season. While he received surgery and recovered, Kyle Trask took the reigns and became one of the greatest stories in the sport as he helped Florida finish with an 11-2 record and their second New Year’s Six bowl win.

With Trask in control, Franks said “thank you” to Gator Nation and transferred to Arkansas. Less than a year later, he’ll travel back to Gainesville to face his old team and teammates.

As we wrote in this week’s edition of GatorBait Magazine when contemplating the possible games,

“This [Arkansas game] is the dream. This game would pit Kyle Trask and the Gators against the Arkansas Razorbacks and their new passer, Feleipe Franks. It’d be an opportunity to truly see them compete on the field. Franks didn’t lose his job to Trask but Trask performed phenomenally once taking over the reigns last season. Trask did so well that he finished as the assumed starter for next season, leading Franks to hand over his team and transfer, but it took Franks becoming injured for Trask to get the chance since he never beat him in training camp.

In other words, neither have a grudge to exorcise over the other, but both have something to prove. And between two competitors that hold eons of respect for the other, the matchup would prove to be fun.

The Razorbacks are also coming off a season in which they finished 2-10 (0-8) with little improvement in talent other than the Franks transfer. Under a new head coach and a rebuilding team, it should alleviate some of the tough parts of the schedule like against LSU, providing the fairness Stricklin mentioned.

Additionally, Florida and Arkansas haven’t played each other since 2016 meaning they’re a team the Gators and the fans haven’t seen in a while, providing it more notoriety. They also won’t play again until 2023, meaning that if the schedule goes back to normal next year, Florida won’t be facing the same team again right away.”

The Gators will travel to Texas A&M to face the Aggies and Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. Florida was 7-1 against Fisher when he was coaching the Florida State Seminoles. Fisher is 17-9 (9-7) in his two years in College Station. He will return quarterback Kellen Mond, who finished 2019 with a 61.6% completion record and a 20-9 touchdown to interception ratio.

As we wrote in this week’s edition of GatorBait Magazine when contemplating the possible games,

“This is the most likely scenario to join Arkansas on the Gators docket. Florida is scheduled to face the Aggies in College Station in 2022, which isn’t that far away, but still has a one year buffer in between the rotation. It’s also been three years since Florida last faced TAMU. Great, now we’re thinking about those hideous alligator skin uniforms. Let’s move on quickly before our night is completely ruined.

The Aggies and Jimbo Fisher are going to be tough, led by passer Kellen Mond. There hasn’t been quite the world shaking play from Mond that pundits like to think there has been, but he’s still a formidable threat who was the potential to take over the conversation around college football this fall.

Every SEC team—and especially every SEC West team—will be tough. But if the Birmingham office is evaluating the fairest way to split the schedule like Stricklin mentioned, then TAMU and Arkansas could be the best bet for the Gators. The Aggies provide a decently difficult opponent to accompany LSU. Ole Miss is a wild card and the Razorbacks should be a relatively easier opponent this year.”

Kickoff for the truncated season has been pushed back to September 26 and the SEC will announce official dates for each team’s 10 games at a later date.

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