florida-gators-mascot-celebration.jpg

One of the most anticipated new rivalries in the Sunshine State is finally coming to fruition. Florida and UCF announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a 2-for-1 football series. The Gators and Knights will meet at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville on Oct. 5, 2024 and Sept. 3, 2033, while the two will meet in the Bounce House in Orlando on Sept. 14, 2030.

"As I've said since arriving, we were in desperate need for games on our upcoming schedule," first-year UCF athletic director Terry Mohajir said on Tuesday. "For the 2024 season specifically, we had three options. Play just 11 games instead of 12, play two FCS opponents, or play at Florida. We obviously made the best choice for our program and recruiting. Once we were able to secure this game in 2024, we then proceeded to add the home-and-home series at their earliest availability. I appreciate [Florida AD] Scott [Stricklin] for returning my call and helping us fill one of our two holes on the 2024 schedule.

"We were at the point where we would have played a one-off guarantee game at Florida, but we were fortunate that we were able to add a home-and-home series as well, starting here at the Bounce House. It's a bonus that it happens to be an in-state team that will create a tremendous amount of excitement for both fan bases. Finally, and most importantly, our players and coaches asked me multiple times about the potential of playing Florida. These guys are fired up to play quality competition. As I've said several times that we are going to do what is best for our program and what makes sense for us. Right now, this makes the most sense under the current scheduling environment and circumstances."

The three dates come after a long flirtation period between the two programs. The idea was shut down fairly recently, even, with former UCF athletic director Danny White rejecting the pitch of a 2-for-1 series in 2019.

"Top-10 programs don't schedule 2-for-1 series where the balance is not in their favor," he said at the time, via ESPN. "Our growing fan base and our student-athletes deserve better than that."

White later opened the door saying that he'd be open for a 2-for-1 series as long as the game in Orlando was played at the Bounce House on UCF's campus rather than Camping World Stadium, the larger, multi-use facility in downtown. White took the athletic director job at Tennessee in late January and was replaced by Mohajir, the former athletic director at Arkansas State. 

Florida is 2-0 all-time against UCF with the last meeting coming in 2006 -- a 42-0 win at "The Swamp" in Gainesville.