Florida and Michigan Set to Meet in the 2017 Cowboys Classic

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 19, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01:  Cowboys Stadium prior to the start of the game between the University of Alabama and the University of Michigan at Cowboys Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. Alabama defeated Michigan 41-14.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The college football season just wrapped up, but it's never too early to start thinking about the future.

Even the distant future.

Florida announced on Thursday that it will travel to the Lone Star State and take on the Michigan Wolverines in the 2017 season-opener on Sept. 2, at the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"The opponent was extremely attractive. The facility, the city, and the national exposure -- I think it will help in recruiting,'' Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley said in a release. "It will give fans a great experience to get away, follow the Gators and start the season."

***Update Feb. 7, 2014***

According to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Michigan will receive a nice chunk of change for participating in the event.

 

End of Update 

 

It will be Florida's first appearance in the Cowboys Classic, which started in 2009. Michigan head coach Brady Hoke took his team to the event to open the 2012 season against Alabama, and is excited about a return trip.

"We are excited to make a return trip to Dallas for the Cowboys Classic against Florida," he said in quotes released by Michigan. "This is a great way to reach our fan base in the south and to continue to expand our recruiting efforts in the state of Texas."

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke
Michigan head coach Brady HokeTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It will be the third meeting between the two programs. Michigan is 2-0 against the Gators, claiming victory in the 2003 Outback Bowl and the 2008 Capital One Bowl.

For Florida, it's a departure from the norm.

The Gators haven't played an out-of-conference game outside of the state of Florida since 1991, when the then No. 5 Gators lost to the then-No. 17 Orange 38-21 at the Carrier Dome.

"It will be very much the exception, not the rule, but to sit here and totally close the door on these opportunities just doesn't make sense," Foley said.

Cowboys Classic Through the Years
YearMatchupScore
2009BYU over Oklahoma14-13
2010TCU over Oregon State30-21
2011LSU over Oregon40-27
2012Alabama over Michigan41-14
2013LSU over TCU37-27
2014Florida State vs. Oklahoma StateNA
2015Alabama vs. WisconsinNA
2016NANA
2017Florida vs. MIchiganNA
ESPN/AT&T Stadium

It's also a sign that the potential for a nine-game conference schedule in the SEC may not be as much of a deterrent to programs with out-of-conference rivals in-state from scheduling big-time out-of-conference opponents as originally envisioned. 

The SEC has adopted an eight-game conference schedule through the 2015 season, but after that, it's anybody's guess. With the conference heavily involved in the programming business thanks to deals with ESPN, the SEC and the creation of the SEC Network, adding another conference game would provide more inventory to its television partners.

These games aren't going away, and the matchup between Michigan and Florida—two traditional powers—will be a fantastic way to kick off the 2017 season.