The Florida Gators will play both of the newest members of the SEC during the 2012 football season, the SEC announced today in releasing the 2012 football schedule.
For the first time since 1996, the Gators won't have Tennessee scheduled as their conference opener. Next season, Florida will travel to Texas A&M for its first conference game of the season.
And in 2012, it's not your typical early-season cake walk for the Gators.
Florida will open the season with a game against Bowling Green at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, then play Texas A&M at College Station on Sept. 8. Florida will play seven consecutive SEC games following that game against Texas A&M.
The way the schedule works out for Florida, the Gators will complete their conference season on Nov. 3. If the Gators are in contention for the SEC East title, they could have to wait until Nov. 24 to know the league outcome when the conference season concludes for all schools.
The rest of the Gators' schedule: at Tennessee (Sept. 15), Kentucky (Sept. 22), LSU (Oct. 6), at Vanderbilt (Oct. 13), South Carolina (Oct. 20), Georgia (in Jacksonville) (Oct. 27), Missouri (Nov. 3), Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 10), Jacksonville State (Nov. 17) and at Florida State (Nov. 24).
Florida coach Will Muschamp, a former Texas defensive coordinator, said Tuesday he's well aware of what the Gators will face going to play the Aggies early on the road.
"Hey, 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.''
Texas A&M will be in the SEC West, while Missouri will become a part of the East - which includes Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
The SEC athletic directors voted to implement a format that allows each school to play all six division opponents annually with one permanent and one rotating non-division opponent.
LSU will remain on Florida's schedule as the permanent SEC West opponent