If there’s one thing you can count on for Tennessee football essentially every single season, it’s that the Vols will start SEC play by taking on Florida and Georgia to start their conference schedule. Since the 2006 season, the Bulldogs have been one of the first two SEC teams the Vols play in a season eight times, and they’ve been one of the first three conference teams Tennessee has played to start the SEC schedule every season for the last 13 seasons.
That looks set to change starting in 2020, however.
According to University of Georgia President Jere Moorhead, Georgia’s 2020 football schedule will replace Auburn’s usual spot on the schedule in November with Tennessee. The move comes at the behest of Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn and several others in the Auburn athletic department raising concerns to the SEC about the annual rivalry being so close to their match-up with Alabama. Georgia also didn’t like the fact that the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry was so close to their annual contest against Georgia Tech.
“As I understand it, the conference has essentially flipped Auburn and Tennessee,” Moorhead said per quotes from 247Sports. “They had their reasons for doing it. … I really defer to coach (Kirby) Smart on those sorts of things.”
Georgia and Auburn’s annual rivalry game has been played in the month of November every year since 1936. Typically, the Tigers will end up playing in the Iron Bowl against Alabama just two weeks after taking on Georgia, and the Bulldogs will face-off against Georgia Tech in the same time frame.
The big news in this whole ordeal nationally and regionally is the shifting of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. But Vol fans are likely happy to see that Auburn and Georgia’s complaining should actually help Tennessee’s schedule, too.
Tennessee’s SEC schedule is typically one of the more front-loaded conference schedules. The Vols usually take on Florida, Georgia, and an SEC West opponent in their first three games of the SEC season, and usually that stretch is followed up by their annual match-up with Alabama.
Now, however, Tennessee’s usual contest against Georgia in late September or sometime in October could be replaced with a game against Missouri, South Carolina, or Kentucky.
Tennessee and Georgia have played in either September or October in every year since the SEC expanded in 1992, and they haven’t played in the month of November since 1973. The Vols are 3-3-1 all-time against the Bulldogs when they play in the month of November.