Kickoff times, TV set for four of first five Florida football games under Billy Napier

Graham Hall
Gator Sports
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The Gators will play the opening weeks of the 2022 season under the lights of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. 

Florida football announced kickoff times and broadcast info Thursday for four contests for coach Billy Napier’s inaugural season with the program, beginning Sept. 3 against Utah. Florida will kick off against the Utes at 7 p.m., with the game broadcast on ESPN.

The contest with Utah marks the first of a home-and-home series with the Utes for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The only previous meeting between Florida and Utah was in 1977, with the Gators claiming a 38-29 win in Gainesville in that contest. 

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Florida will open SEC play the following week against Kentucky when the Wildcats make the trip to Gainesville for a 7 p.m. contest on Sept. 10 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. UF suffered a 20-13 loss at Kentucky last season after being outscored 13-3 in the second half in Lexington. 

The Gators host South Florida the following week, and the kickoff between the in-state programs will take place at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network. It’s just the third matchup between the two programs, and the second in as many years. Florida secured a 42-20 win over the Bulls in the second game of the 2021 campaign. 

After traveling to Tennessee on Sept. 24, the Gators return to Gainesville for an Oct. 1 contest with Eastern Washington, with kickoff set for a noon on SEC Network+.

The game with the Eagles, which marks Eastern Washington’s first matchup with an SEC opponent, was announced prior to the 2016 season and scheduled for the 2020 campaign. But the COVID-19 pandemic erased the game from the schedule as UF went to a conference-only slate.

At the time of the game’s announcement, former Eastern Washington coach Jim McElwain had taken over the UF program. McElwain may no longer be at the helm, but the contest between the two programs will happen regardless. 

"Florida has been a great partner throughout this process," said EWU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey on March 24, 2021. "We are glad it worked out to reschedule the game because our program was looking forward to the challenge of playing an SEC opponent."

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