FAYETTEVILLE — The Southeastern Conference announced earlier this year that Arkansas and Missouri would be permanent cross-division rivals in football.
But that permanent rivalry won’t begin in 2013.
Arkansas’ schedule for 2013 was announced Thursday and showed Missouri is not one of the Razorbacks’ opponents. Arkansas will continue to play its SEC East permanent division rival South Carolina in what conference officials described as a “bridge” schedule not based on any previous or future scheduling formats.
The SEC will begin formulating schedules for 2014 and beyond next spring.
“As we began working on the 2013 football schedule, it became apparent that the conference would need another year of the ‘bridge’ schedule to make everything work,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. “I appreciate the SEC transition team and our athletics directors, who came together to put this schedule in place. We look forward to starting with our new scheduling rotation in 2014.”
The revelation was one of a handful of items worth noting in Arkansas’ schedule, which was unveiled along with the rest of the conference’s 13 programs Thursday.
The Razorbacks will play both South Carolina and Florida from the SEC East next season in the second year of the conference’s 6-1-1 scheduling format. Arkansas travels to Gainesville, Fla., on Oct. 5 and hosts the Gamecocks a week later.
“That was part of the ‘bridge’ schedule and really part of trying to have either a conference game or a non-conference traditional rival game on the last week of the season that created some issues for us,” Mark Womack, the executive associate commissioner of the SEC, said about the cross-division rivals remaining the same during a Q&A on the conference’s website. “It created the situation where we had to look at holding off going to those permanent opponents for a year.”
The schedule also revealed Arkansas’ season-ending game against LSU, which has been played during Thanksgiving weekend since the Razorbacks entered the conference, remains intact. There have been plenty of rumblings about LSU replacing Arkansas with Texas A&M in the season-ending position. It won’t happen in 2013, but there’s no guarantee it will remain there in 2014.
The LSU trip is one of five road games for Arkansas, which is the most for the program since 2008. The trips include games at Rutgers (Sept. 21), Florida (Oct. 5), Alabama (Oct. 19), Ole Miss (Nov. 9) and LSU (Nov. 30).
Arkansas — which has always played Alabama early in the season — will play the Crimson Tide in October for the first time since joining the SEC in 1992.
The Razorbacks will play seven home games in 2013, beginning with the season-opener against Louisiana-Lafayette (Aug. 31) in Razorback Stadium.
The rest of the home schedule includes games against Samford (Sept. 7 in Little Rock), Southern Miss (Sept. 14), Texas A&M (Sept. 28), South Carolina (Oct. 12), Auburn (Nov. 2) and Mississippi State (Nov. 23 in Little Rock). Arkansas will play Samford and Southern Miss for the first time.
“The 2013 schedule provides matchups against some of the other marquee college football programs in the nation,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement Thursday. “With seven home games in the state of Arkansas, Razorback fans will have the opportunity to see key SEC games as well as non-conference matchups featuring first time football opponents.
“As we continue in the process of working alongside the Southeastern Conference to outline future conference schedules, we are pleased we were able to put together a competitive and compelling 2013 schedule for our program and our fans.”
2013 Arkansas Football Schedule
Aug. 31 UL-Lafayette (Fayetteville)
Sept. 7 Samford (Little Rock)
Sept. 14 Southern Miss (Fayetteville)
Sept. 21 at Rutgers (Piscataway, N.J.)
Sept. 28 Texas A&M (Fayetteville)
Oct. 5 at Florida (Gainesville, Fla.)
Oct. 12 South Carolina (Fayetteville)
Oct. 19 at Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Nov. 2 Auburn (Fayetteville)
Nov. 9 at Ole Miss (Oxford, Miss.)
Nov. 23 Mississippi State (Little Rock)
Nov. 30 at LSU (Baton Rouge, La.)