For the first time in 32 years, Florida’s football team in 2023 will play a true nonconference road game outside of the state. The venue: Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Gators have booked a home-and-home series with Utah in 2022 and 2023, the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun first reported Monday. Needing to drop one of three scheduled opponents each year to make that happen, Utah will defer two games vs. BYU as part of an agreement to extend the rivalry through 2028, the school announced.
Utah has confirmed that it plans to play a Southeastern Conference school. Florida, coached by former Utah assistant Dan Mullen, reportedly will be the opponent. The booking reflects Utah athletic director Mark Harlan’s goal of more ambitious nonconference scheduling and his willingness to interrupt the series with BYU occasionally “if it makes sense,” as he has said.
Before and after the two-year break, Utah and BYU will meet annually through 2028, under the terms of the new four-year contract between the schools.
“I appreciate the great working relationship we have with Mark Harlan and many others at Utah,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. "There may come a time in the future where we need to ask Utah to make an adjustment for us. That’s how a relationship works. Utah approached us about an opportunity they have and we agreed to work with them.”
Harlan said Holmoe’s cooperation serves to “demonstrate the strong partnership that is in place.”
The 2026 booking with BYU means the Utes should have their strongest nonconference schedule of the Pac-12 era that season, also facing Arkansas and Houston.
Harlan’s previously biggest scheduling splash came in July, when he booked a series with Arkansas for a ’26 home game and a ’28 road contest. Florida will jump ahead of Arkansas as the first SEC team to play in Salt Lake City. Florida will become Utah’s first Power Five nonconference opponent since Michigan in 2014-15, when the Utes first interrupted the series with BYU. The also will meet Power Five member Baylor in 2023, along with Weber State.
Playing in Florida will boost Utah’s recruiting efforts in the state that have produced current seniors Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss and Demari Simpkins, among others. The Utes have a commitment in the class of 2020 from quarterback Katravis Marsh of the Miami area.
Florida is widening its scheduling scope with home-and-home series vs. Colorado and Texas, further into the future. The Gators' 1991 visit to Syracuse is their most recent true road game outside of Florida.
Utah is scheduled to host BYU and Montana State and visit Wyoming in 2020, then host Weber State and travel to BYU and San Diego State in 2021, when the expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium will be completed. In addition to Florida, Utah will meet San Diego State and Southern Utah in 2022.