SEC to play conference only, 10 game schedule

NCAA Football

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) celebrates after scoring with wide receiver Justin Jefferson during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson in New Orleans. There are more bowl games scheduled for the coming season than ever before in major college football: 42, not including the College Football Playoff championship. College football leaders are in the process of piecing together plans to attempt to play a regular season during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is even possible, everyone anticipates there will be disruptions, added expenses and loads of stress just to get through it. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Southeastern Conference is going to play a conference only, 10 game schedule this fall.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced Thursday that university presidents came to an agreement on a plan that will see the season start on September 26, three weeks after the original start date. The divisions are expected to stay the same, but teams are expected to play two additional games against their opposite division.

“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” Sankey said.  “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”

A conference only schedule will eliminate games against FCS and Group of Five teams. The decision to limit competition to conference-only opponents and rescheduling the SEC Championship Game is based on the need for maximum flexibility in making any necessary scheduling adjustments while reacting to developments around the pandemic and continued advice from medical professionals.

“We believe these schedule adjustments offer the best opportunity to complete a full season by giving us the ability to adapt to the fluid nature of the virus and the flexibility to adjust schedules as necessary if disruptions occur,” Sankey said.  “It is regrettable that some of our traditional non-conference rivalries cannot take place in 2020 under this plan, but these are unique, and hopefully temporary, circumstances that call for unconventional measures.”

Here are some notable non-conference games that won’t be taking place in 2020:

  • Tennessee-Oklahoma
  • LSU-Texas
  • Mississippi State-NC State
  • Baylor-Ole Miss
  • Arkansas-Notre Dame
  • Vanderbilt-Kansas State

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