JACKSONVILLE — The newest members of the SEC, Texas A&M and Missouri, will play Florida in 2012. And for the first time since 1996, the Gators aren't scheduled to face Tennessee in the conference opener.
The SEC released its schedule Wednesday. The Gators will be the opponent for the Aggies' first conference game, Sept. 8 in College Station. It will come a week after Florida opens the season at home against Bowling Green.
Gators coach Will Muschamp, a former Texas defensive coordinator, knows A&M well.
"Kyle Field, they do a nice job there," Muschamp said. "It's a very SEC-like atmosphere as far as their support is concerned, and they've got a great tradition there playing at home."
Florida will play eight straight SEC games, concluding Nov. 3. So if it contends in the East, it could have to wait three weeks — until Nov. 24, when Missouri visits A&M and Kentucky visits Tennessee — for its fate.
With 14 teams, the SEC has seven in each division, Missouri in the East and A&M in the West. Each school will play all six division opponents and two from the other division, one being a designated opponent. LSU remains Florida's designated opponent.
More schedule: The SEC said this won't be a template for future schedules. Athletic directors will meet in the spring to determine a permanent formula. … Missouri's first SEC game will be at home against Georgia on Sept. 8. Its West opponents will be at A&M and home to Alabama. … For the second straight season, Georgia won't face West powers Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. It was set to play Alabama but now has the extra division game. Its West opponents will be Auburn and Mississippi.
GATORS RETURN: RB Jeff Demps (undisclosed) and WR Deonte Thompson (illness) returned to practice at Jacksonville University as the Gators continued preparations for the Gator Bowl.
"(Thompson) looked pretty good," interim offensive coordinator Brian White said. "He didn't have any issues with reps or stamina."
Little change: White said he doesn't plan to deviate much from what Florida has done all season but there might be an expanded role for some players.
"Hopefully in this game, you'll see more of (TE) A.C. Leonard and then throughout the 2012 season," White said. "He's an extremely talented young man."
Back to work: Ohio State practiced for the first time since arriving in Jacksonville, beginning with four sprints across the field at the University of North Florida. "Those weren't bad at all," QB Kenny Guiton said.
Information from Times wires contributed to this report.