AUBURN — The stated desire that grew to a rumor and became a reported fact in February is now an acknowledged reality:
Starting with the 2020 season, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry between Auburn and Georgia will move away from its traditional November date and be played earlier in the schedule.
But that won't make Auburn's schedule any easier.
Next season's meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs will take place Oct. 10, 2020, at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia, according to the official schedule the SEC released Wednesday afternoon. The annual rivalry game now falls between home games against Kentucky (Oct. 3) and Texas A&M (Oct. 17).
To make that change possible, Auburn's annual meeting with LSU will move later in the schedule to Nov. 21 — one week before the Nov. 28 Iron Bowl against Alabama.
So while Auburn won't have to play its two biggest rivals on the road in the span of three weeks, it will have to play two of the SEC West's best teams back to back to end the regular season. The LSU game will be at home, as will a tune-up game against UMass the week prior, but that doesn't make the final quarter of the schedule any easier than it was before the change.
If there is one thing for fans to take solace in, it's that Alabama will also not be playing a nonconference game before the Iron Bowl — it is set to host Texas A&M on Nov. 21.
Auburn hasn't played an SEC opponent the week prior to the Iron Bowl since 2013. Alabama hasn't played once since 2008.
The 2020 season will mark the first time the first time since 1936 and fifth time ever that the 123-year-old Deep South's Oldest Rivalry has been played outside of the month of November. Oct. 10 is the earliest the game has been played since the first-ever meeting between the two teams in 1892, when the game was played Feb. 20 in Atlanta.
It will also mark the first time Auburn and LSU have met later than October since 2001, when the Sept. 15 game between the teams was postponed to Dec. 1 because of the September 11 attacks. They haven't played during the month of November since 1942.