By Jackson Sparks, Sports Editor–
After an initial postponement of Southeastern Conference football, the 14 teams of the SEC will kick off on Saturday, Sep. 26.
Although far from a normal season, the SEC has decided to play football. On July 24, the SEC announced its plan to have only interconference play in the 2020 regular season. Each SEC team had two cross-divisional opponents added to their schedule.
Additionally, each university has a different allowed stadium capacity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Each university except Vanderbilt is allowing between 20-25% of maximum capacity in their stadiums. Vanderbilt has decided to play without fans in Vanderbilt Stadium through the end of October. Many of the 14 universities have either prohibited or discouraged tailgating on campus as an extra safety measure.
Week one of SEC football kicks off with the top five ranked Florida Gators at Ole Miss and a top-25 matchup between Kentucky and Auburn at noon. In the middle of the afternoon, Mississippi State travels to LSU and fourth-ranked Georgia battles Arkansas in Fayetteville. Among the night games beginning at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. are Alabama at Missouri, Vanderbilt at Texas A&M, and Tennessee at South Carolina.
A ten-game conference schedule will prove to be one of the most challenging seasons for each SEC team, respectively. In a normal season, big time SEC teams usually start their year with a low-tier, unflashy opponent to get the juices flowing. This year, in an off-season filled with uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and chaos, the SEC clashes will begin from the jump.
On Sep. 22, it was announced that each SEC football player will wear a small device used to help with Covid-19 contract tracing efforts. The devices, called SafeTags, are the size of a watch face and use ultra-wideband technology to calculate proximity between individuals by distance and length of time. This is set up to trace contact quickly and accurately when someone tests positive for Covid-19.
Though the outcomes of these games are uncertain, the SEC is taking steps to ensure safety amongst the student-athletes and fans. Nonetheless, SEC football is back, and that is something we can all be happy about.