Michigan, Florida to open 2017 season in Texas

Florida and Michigan will open the 2017 season in the Cowboys

Classic in Arlington, Texas.

The prime-time game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2.

It will be Florida’s first regular-season, non-conference game

outside the Sunshine State since the Gators lost at Syracuse in

1991.

”You don’t get these opportunities very often,” Florida

athletic director Jeremy Foley said. ”Our schedule has been pretty

consistent through the years. We were presented this opportunity

and just thought it was something that our fans would embrace, our

program would embrace. It would give us great national visibility.

Obviously, a very difficult ballgame against a storied program –

that excites us.”

Michigan will be the away team; Florida the home team. Game

officials and replay crew will come from the Big 12 Conference.

Each school will receive 25,000 tickets for the neutral-site

game at AT&T Stadium, home to the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The

$1.2 billion stadium opened in 2009. It already hosted the Super

Bowl and is scheduled for the 2014 NCAA men’s Final Four and the

first college football national championship under the new playoff

format in January 2015.

Michigan played in 2012 Cowboys Classic, losing 41-14 to

Alabama.

”We are excited to make a return trip to Dallas for the Cowboys

Classic against Florida,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. ”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. Our goal is

to have as many Michigan fans at the game as possible.”

This will be the third meeting between Michigan and Florida.

Both previous matchups came in bowl games. Michigan won both: a

38-30 victory in the 2003 Outback Bowl and a 41-35 victory in the

2008 Capital One Bowl.

Florida has struggled to fill stands for home games the last few

years, especially in games against non-conference opponents aside

from Florida State. So moving a home date to a neutral-site venue –

and guaranteeing a sellout and a significant payout – made sense

financially.

”This is a great opportunity to expose the University of

Florida nationally, playing one of the greatest programs in the

history of college football,” Foley said. ”I think a tremendous

trip for our fans. We just haven’t done much of this, certainly as

long as I’ve been athletic director. I think there are a lot of

positives that come out of it.”