Fall's schedule unfathomable
Published: Saturday, June 24, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 24, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
During these long and searing summer days, the talk around Gainesville usually turns to Gator football. The hot talk this summer isn't about the depth chart or the offseason conditioning program or how much time Chris Leak is spending in the film room.
It's about the schedule.
That brutal, bear of a schedule that lies ahead for the Gators.
Some are surmising that this might turn out to be the toughest schedule in UF history.
"It could be," long-time UF historian Norm Carlson said. "We've had some tough schedules and this could rank with any of those. It's certainly one of the most imposing heading into the season."
There's a chance the Gators could face as many as seven ranked opponents (Tennessee, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State) during the season and four in a row (Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia). Both would be school records.
Unlike past seasons, the Gators won't be able to ease their way into this one, with tough Southern Miss and emerging Central Florida getting things started on the first two Saturdays in The Swamp. Then comes the SEC schedule that features a trip to Knoxville, the top three teams from the Western Division (Alabama, LSU and Auburn) and consecutive games against Alabama, LSU, at Auburn and Georgia in Jacksonville. And, of course, Tallahassee awaits at the end of the schedule.
Here are some other highlights of the 2006 schedule:
"It's a heck of a challenge for this team," Carlson said.
The accurate strength of this schedule, of course, will be determined as the season unfolds.
It does have the potential to rank among the toughest. Until it plays out, the toughest schedules in UF history certainly are open for debate.
The Sun has come up with its version, ranking them in order of toughness, going back to 1960.
No. 1 1987
No. 2 2003
No. 3 1983
No. 4 1982
No. 5 2000
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UF-UT matchup to be shown on CBS
Florida vs. Tennessee is always one of the prime games on the Southeastern Conference schedule and once again it has earned a spot in prime time.
This year's Sept. 16 showdown in Knoxville has been picked up by CBS and will have an 8 p.m. kickoff. The Gators' last venture to UT also was a nationally televised night game, but it was carried by ESPN.
As expected, CBS also announced it will be televising the UF-Georgia game in Jacksonville on Oct. 28. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
Game times for the remainder of the schedule will be announced no later than 12 days in advance of that particular game. The networks do have one opportunity throughout the year to exercise a six-day window to announce a game time.
Florida opens the 2006 season on Sept. 2 against Southern Miss in The Swamp.
The last six
Where UF's schedules have ranked in the NCAA over the past six seasons:
UF 2006 schedule
9/2 Southern Miss
9/9 Central Florida
9/16 at Tennessee
10/14 at Auburn
11/4 at Vanderbilt
11/11 South Carolina
11/18 Western Carolina
11/25 at Florida State
* in Jacksonville
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