USC, Clemson won’t play football with SEC plan


If the Southeastern Conference sticks to the plan it announced for its football teams for the 2020 season Thursday, South Carolina will not be playing Clemson.

The SEC announced it will play only league games in ‘20, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.

The SEC's university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all nonconference opponents and is set to begin Sept. 26. The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19.

Each SEC team will have a midseason off week and Dec. 12 will be an off week for the entire conference. It will provide the opportunity to make up any games that might be postponed due to the virus or weather.

Specific dates and opponents have yet to be set by the league. The Gamecocks were originally scheduled to host Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia while visiting Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt and LSU. Assuming USC keeps those foes on its schedule, the other five teams available to fill the final two spots are Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Arkansas.

Carolina had non-conference games scheduled with Coastal Carolina, East Carolina Wofford and Clemson.

The SEC athletics directors didn’t vote unanimously on making it conference only games before passing it on to the presidents.

This comes a day after the Atlantic Coast Conference announced a reworked 11-game schedule that left room for one non-conference game.

The ACC wanted to allow four of its schools to maintain in-state rivalry games with SEC schools, but now Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Kentucky-Louisville and Clemson-USC have been canceled. That puts all ACC nonconference games in doubt because the conference had stipulated it would only allow its schools to play in their home states against non-ACC teams.

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced plans to play only conference games. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have yet to reveal detailed schedules but both could come as soon as Friday. Big 12 officials were holding out hope its 10 members would be able to play nonconference games, but options are dwindling. The SEC's decision cancels LSU's home game against Texas and Tennessee's scheduled trip to Oklahoma in September.

Big 12 athletic directors are expected to meet Monday and could have a decision on their schedule then.

The delayed start for the Southeastern Conference is two weeks later than the ACC's and creates 12 weeks to get in 10 games and determine participants for the league title game in Atlanta.