Gators to open 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium
Florida will open the 2017 football season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The game will be played on Sept. 2, and will be the first time the Gators have played a nonconference game away from the state of Florida since a loss at Syracuse in 1991.
The game, which will be referred to as the "Cowboys Clasic" will be nationally televised in prime time.
"You don't get these opportunities very often,'' Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said on the school's website. “Our schedule has been pretty consistent through the years. We were presented this opportunity and just thought it was something that our fans would embrace, our program would embrace. It would give us great national visibility. Obviously, a very difficult ballgame against a storied program - that excites us."
Florida and Michigan have met twice, but both times were in bowl games.
"Florida has been one of college football's best programs over the past 20 years, and we are excited to face the Gators in a regular season football game for the first time ever," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.
This will be the second time the Wolverines have played in the Cowboys Classic. Michigan lost 41-14 to Alabama in the 2012 game. Michigan will be the away team; Florida the home team. The game officials and instant replay crew will come from the Big 12 Conference.
The Gators have not opened the season against a ranked opponent since 1987 when Florida opened with No. 10 Miami. Foley said the Michigan game doesn't mean the Gators are going to start scheduling tougher opening opponents - at a neutral site - on a regular basis.
"I think when you are presented with unique opportunities you need to look at it for your fans' sake, for your program's sake,'' Foley said. “It's something we will not do on a consistent basis because we like playing seven home games. Seven home games are obviously important to our program, important to the city of Gainesville. It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn't make sense."
For Michigan, the game presents an opportunity to expand its recruiting base, Hoke said.
"This is a great way to reach our fan base in the south and to continue to expand our recruiting efforts in the state of Texas," Hoke said. "Our goal is to have as many Michigan fans at the game as possible.