COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on Missouri’s schedule. The Tigers’ game against Vanderbilt, which was scheduled for Saturday, got postponed because the Commodores dipped below the SEC’s 53 scholarship player threshold. Now, multiple sources have indicated to PowerMizzou has learned that Missouri’s next two opponents will be flipped due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Florida. The SEC officially announced the schedule adjustments Friday evening.
Missouri will host Kentucky on Oct. 24 rather than on Oct. 31, as previously scheduled. The team will then travel to Florida on Oct. 31. The matchup against Kentucky will kick off at 3 p.m. and be televised by SEC Network. The Florida game will kick at 6:30 p.m. and air on SEC Network-Alternate.
Assuming Florida has its COVID-19 outbreak under control in time to take the field, its matchup against Missouri will be the Gators’ first game in three weeks. They lost 41-38 at Texas A&M on Saturday.
This most recent round of schedule shuffling comes after Florida had 21 football players and two assistant coaches test positive for COVID-19 early this week. The Gators have since postponed their game against LSU, scheduled for Saturday, and paused all football activities.
Florida has not publicly disclosed whether positive tests and contact tracing would put Its roster beneath the 53-player threshold, but the SEC announced that the program Is taking an “extended pause at the advice of health officials.” Per SEC protocols, players who test positive must Isolate for at least 10 days, and those deemed “close contacts” to a player who has tested positive must isolate for 14, with no ability to test out of quarantine.
The SEC was not able to move Missouri’s matchup with Florida to the end of the season because the Tigers are already scheduled to play Vanderbilt Dec. 12. Florida and LSU are currently scheduled to make up the contest scheduled for this weekend then, as well. Missouri is still scheduled to have an idle weekend on Nov. 7, but neither Florida or Vanderbilt has the same bye. As a result of this change, Kentucky will now play Georgia, who it was originally scheduled to host Oct. 24, on Oct. 31. Georgia will have its bye next weekend instead of Oct. 31.
Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Missouri athletics director Jim Sterk said the SEC could schedule games for Dec. 19, the day of the conference championship game, as long as those contests don’t impact the two division titles, but doing so would be a last resort.
Following the news that Missouri would not be able to host Vanderbilt Saturday, head coach Eli Drinkwitz said he understood and supported Vanderbilt’s decision. He called the team’s unexpected bye week a “blessing” during his Tuesday press conference, saying it would give the Tigers an opportunity to heal and self-evaluate. Missouri has had COVID-19 and injury issues of its own. The team suited up just 61 scholarship players during its 45-41 upset of LSU last weekend, with those missing the contest including three of the team’s top five wide receivers and three of its top four defensive tackles.
“We’ve played, really, three tough, physical SEC opponents, all ranked,” Drinkwitz said Tuesday. “For us to try to get healthy, bumps, bruises, try to get people out of quarantine, out of contact tracing is going to be good. It gives us a chance to reevaluate the first three games, where exactly we weren’t where we need to be and really get specific practices and fundamentals looked at and make sure we know what we’re doing.”