Now that the AAC has released its 2020 schedule, let’s take a big-picture look at the state’s football calendar. Here’s a quick viewing guide for this season. Plan your out-of-town trips accordingly.
Make sure you’re free on
Oct. 10. LSU will probably regress without Joe Brady and Joe Burrow, but the Tigers will still be a formidable rival when they come to Gainesville. That same day, Clemson visits Florida State. I’m not expecting the Seminoles to be able to hang with those Tigers yet, but the presumptive national title favorite coming to the state is still a big deal. This isn’t the deepest weekend on the calendar, but it still has two marquee matchups. Or two matchups with marquee names, at least.
Most intriguing weekend
Sept. 26. Tennessee is no longer a shipwreck, so Florida’s trip to Knoxville won’t be a cakewalk. I have no idea what to expect from Miami or coach Manny Diaz. I also have no idea what to expect from Michigan State and new coach Mel Tucker. But one of them will get a nice victory in their meeting in East Lansing. And the matchup of Willie Taggart’s old team (USF) facing his new one (Florida Atlantic) in Boca Raton is juicy.
Schedule your fall wedding on
Sept. 12. Yeah, it’ll still be scorching, but you probably won’t miss much action, unless Kentucky can hang with (or upset) Florida again at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The rest of the day has three Division I-AA opponents (Wagner at Miami, Bethune-Cookman at USF, Samford at FSU) and Florida International at UCF. Yawn.
Group of Five statement day
Sept. 19. I would not be surprised at all if Boise State beats FSU on the blue turf. Or if UAB knocks off Miami at Hard Rock Stadium. Or if UCF beats Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
USF. The Bulls start the month at Memphis, which should again be a Group of Five heavyweight. Then USF goes to Houston, who won’t be as good without D’Eriq King but is still formidable. Then always-tricky Navy visits Raymond James Stadium before a Black Friday game against UCF. Oof.
Week 1 weirdness that might only interest me
When the FSU-West Virginia opener in Atlanta was announced, it had a cool storyline of West Virginia native Jimbo Fisher facing his home-state team. Fisher, of course, is no longer coaching the ’Noles. Likewise, it made sense for the Gators to schedule I-AA Eastern Washington so coach Jim McElwain could face his alma mater. It doesn’t make as much sense now. USF’s trip to Texas was going to be the Charlie Strong Bowl … except ex-Texas coach is now an ex-USF coach, too. At least we get the Manny Diaz Bowl when Diaz’s Hurricanes host Temple, the school Diaz coached for 18 glorious days before leaving for Miami.