SEC goes to conference-only schedule, Sept. 26 start

Sports

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) celebrates after scoring with wide receiver Justin Jefferson during the first half of a NCAA College Football Playoff national championship game against Clemson in New Orleans. There are more bowl games scheduled for the coming season than ever before in major college football: 42, not including the College Football Playoff championship. College football leaders are in the process of piecing together plans to attempt to play a regular season during the COVID-19 pandemic. If it is even possible, everyone anticipates there will be disruptions, added expenses and loads of stress just to get through it. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(AP) – The powerhouse Southeastern Conference announced Thursday that it will play only league games in 2020, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.

The SEC’s university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all nonconference opponents and is set to begin Sept. 26. The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19.

Each SEC team will have a midseason off week and Dec. 12 will be an off week for the entire conference.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced plans to play only conference games. The Atlantic Coast Conference this week announced a reworked 11-game schedule that left room for one non-conference game.

The ACC wanted to allow four of its schools to maintain in-state rivalry games with SEC schools, but now Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville have been canceled. That puts all ACC nonconference games in doubt because the conference had stipulated it would only allow its schools to play in their home states against non-ACC teams.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have yet to reveal detailed schedules but both could come as soon as Friday. Big 12 officials were holding out hope its 10 members would be able to play nonconference games, but options are dwindling. The SEC’s decision cancels LSU’s home game against Texas and Tennessee’s scheduled trip to Oklahoma in September.

Big 12 athletic directors are expected to meet Monday and could have a decision on their schedule then.

The delayed start for the Southeastern Conference is two weeks later than the ACC’s and creates 12 weeks to get in 10 games and determine participants for the league title game in Atlanta.

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