Southeastern Conference school presidents voted Thursday to implement a 10-game, conference-only schedule that will begin on Sept. 26, the University of Arkansas announced.
The expected move finally puts to paper plans regarding the 2020 football season. The SEC was the next-to-last Power 5 conference to announce its plans for the pandemic-impacted season. For Arkansas, it means the Razorbacks’ originally scheduled season opener on Sept. 5 in Fayetteville against Nevada will not be played. It’s also considered likely that the SEC will follow the Big 10 model of divisional matchups the first half of the season followed by a bye week and cross-divisional matchups the final five weeks.
Trey Biddy of HawgSports.com on Thursday posted a purely hypothetical Hogs schedule that looks like this:
Sept. 26 — LSU
Oct. 3 — at Auburn
Oct. 10 — at Mississippi State
Oct. 17 — at Texas A&M
Oct. 24 — Ole Miss
Oct. 31 — Alabama
Nov. 7 — BYE WEEK
Nov. 14 — SEC East opponent to be determined
Nov. 21 — Tennessee
Nov. 28 — at Missouri
Dec. 5 — SEC East opponent to be determined.
The conference championship game has been moved back to Dec. 19 with Dec. 12 set aside as a makeup date should any games get postponed by the pandemic. For the Hogs, matchups with Texas A&M and Missouri are expected to be moved back to campus for the next two seasons. (It remains uncertain if Arkansas’ annual Black Friday matchup with Missouri will be played the day after Thanksgiving this year.)
The SEC’s decision means the Hogs officially will not get to travel to Notre Dame on Sept. 12 for their first-ever meeting with the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is scheduled to play in Fayetteville in 2024 as part of a contracted home-and-home series; no word yet on whether the game in South Bend will be rescheduled or how the cancellation impacts the contract. Also lost are home non-conference games with Charleston Southern and Louisiana-Monroe.
All Power 5 leagues are planning to play a 10-game conference-only schedule except the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC is planning a 10-game conference-only schedule but allowing its member schools to schedule one non-conference game as long as that game takes place in an ACC state. Notre Dame is an ACC member in all sports but football, but for the 2020 season will be considered a full member.
However, it’s likely the school will work to keep its scheduled matchup with Navy as its lone non-conference game. Before the SEC made its plans official, many Hog fans had hoped Arkansas would remain on the Notre Dame schedule as the lone non-league foe.
The Irish and Midshipmen have played every year since 1927, marking the longest continuously played intersectional series in college football. The 2020 matchup had been scheduled to take place in Dublin, Ireland, but was moved to Navy’s campus because of the pandemic. It’s likely now that the game will be moved to South Bend to adhere to the ACC’s conditions and maintain the historic streak.
Meanwhile, Hogs fans will be forced to wait three weeks to open the Sam Pittman era on the Hill.