Gators to open vs. Michigan in 2017

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:56 p.m.

Florida will venture outside the state for a non-conference game for the first time since 1991 and it will be a doozy.

The Gators will open the season with Big 10 power Michigan in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 2, 2017.

Cowboys Stadium is the home for the first College Football Championship game in 2015 and will play host to this season's Final Four.

Florida will receive $6 million to play the game, according to a high-ranking SEC source. Expenses for a road game usually are less than $200,000. Florida usually nets about $1 million for a home game.

“It's just a great opportunity to expose our program,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “It's nice to do something different. It's not something we'd want to do all the time.”

Foley said the move was not in response to the new playoff system, where strength of schedule will be a component for the committee that will decide the four playoff teams. Neither, he said, was any criticism about Florida playing its last non-conference road game outside of the state at Syracuse in 1991.

Instead, he said the opportunity was one that could not be passed up when Florida was approached about the idea by organizers of the annual “Cowboys Classic” game.

Florida last played Michigan in Orlando in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2008. The two schools also played in the 2003 Outback Bowl following Ron Zook's first season. Michigan won both games.

Michigan played Alabama in the game to open the 2012 season. Florida's basketball team played its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight NCAA games in the stadium in March of this year.

Florida will continue to pursue the possibility of playing a neutral site game against Miami (likely in Tampa) five to seven years after the 2017 game.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow @Pat_Dooley on Twitter.

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