The release of the SEC football schedule on Wednesday features the return of non-conference matches and an opening day roster on September 4 that includes a Power 5 bout. LSU in UCLA, Georgia vs. Clemson (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Miami vs. Alabama (Atlanta).
Texas A&M, which came close to making the University Football Playoffs last season, will travel to Colorado in Week 2, recreating the previous Top 12 program bouts. The game will be played at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver.
Blonde, which will be led by new coach Bryan Harsin, will play on Penn State in Week 3.
Defending champions Alabama will kick off conference games that Saturday with a trip to Florida, setting up a rematch of last season’s SEC championship match, which was won by Crimson Tide 52-46.
“We are proud to have completed the 2020 football season under unique circumstances and will now focus on playing the 2021 football season on schedule,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. “The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus will continue to guide our decision making if any adjustments need to be made.”
The SEC canceled all non-conference matches last season amid the pandemic, with teams playing 10 regular season matches against league opponents each.
The 2021 schedule will also feature two homecoming trips for the head coach.
Coach Ole Miss Lane Kiffin will return to Tennessee for the first time as head coach when the Rebel fight the Volunteers on October 16. Kiffin only spent one season as head coach at Tennessee in 2009 before leaving for the USC, sparking a commotion from students in Knoxville.
Former coach Ole Miss Hugh Freeze will return to his old hometown Freedom a trip to Ole Miss on November 6. Freeze spent five seasons as head coach at Ole Miss before stepping down in 2017 after school officials discovered a pattern that included phone calls to numbers associated with female escort services. Freeze took over the Liberty program in 2019 and have turned 18-6 in two seasons.
Other highlights of the SEC’s release schedule include:
Former Florida and South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp was seen wandering around Athens, Ga., The last few days. According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Muschamp spent the entire Wednesday at the facility.
There is speculation that Muschamp could join the Bulldogs staff in some capacity, most likely in an off-field role. As a former player in Georgia with lots of connections to Kirby Smart, it makes sense that that’s the next step after being sacked by South Carolina in his fifth season as head coach.
Florida tight ends Kyle Pitts is missing his senior season and will not be playing in the upcoming Gators bowl game to prepare for the match Draft NFL 2021, he announced on social media Sunday.
Pitts, a junior from Philadelphia, is considered a potential top 10 pick.
“After a lot of prayer and consideration and talking with my family, I will forget about my senior year and enter the 2021 NFL draft and will not be playing in a bowl game,” Pitts write on Twitter. “I really wanted to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL. But I will always be a Gator.”
Pitts (6-foot-6, 239 pound) is ranked No. 1 among ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. The goalkeeper put Pitts on as the No. 7 overall; McShay ranked him 10th.
Pitts has 43 catches for 770 yards with 12 goals in eight games this season for the Gators, who are expected to be selected to play in a New Year’s six-bowl tie on Sunday. He has seven receptions for 129 yards with one score in a 52-46 at a loss to No. 1 Alabama in Saturday night’s SEC championship game.
“It has been an emotionally grueling time for the Keyontae family, friends and teammates,” said Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin in a statement. “Our hope is that everyone affected will take the opportunity to process these emotions and regroup ahead of the start of the new year.”
The next Florida game scheduled now is the SEC opener at Vanderbilt on December 30th.
Stricklin also provided another positive update on Johnson, who stepped into steady state on Tuesday and started breathing on his own and talk to his family and doctor.
“Keyontae Johnson continues to show really encouraging signs of progress as he undergoes further testing and evaluation at UF Health,” said Stricklin. “He and his family thanked him for the outpouring of love, prayers and good wishes.”
Johnson passed out in the first half of a game against Florida The State of Florida on Saturday, fell face down on his return to the pitch after the first half deadline. He was given emergency medical attention and carried off the field on a stretcher before being rushed to the Tallahassee Memorial.