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Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield is tackled by Tennessee linebacker Daniel Bituli last September in Athens. Georgia rivals Auburn and Tennessee are essentially swapping spots on the Bulldogs' schedule starting in 2020.
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Tennessee running back Jeremy Banks is swarmed by Georgia linebacker Natrez Patrick, left, defensive lineman Tyler Clark, second from right, and other Bulldogs during the SEC East rivals' meeting in Athens last September. Georgia and Tennessee will move their annual football rivalry to November beginning with the 2020 season.

Georgia and Tennessee have collided on an annual basis in football since 1992, when the Southeastern Conference split into two divisions.

Those meetings have occurred by mid-October at the very latest, but that's about to change.

Georgia president Jere Morehead said Wednesday afternoon that, beginning with the 2020 season, the Bulldogs will face Tennessee in mid-November as a result of their game against Auburn being moved to late September or early October. Morehead made the announcement during a quarterly meeting of Georgia's athletic association board of directors.

"As I understand it, the conference has flipped Auburn and Tennessee," Morehead told reporters. "They had their reasons for doing it. I suppose if I was looking at the schedule, the keys for me would be, 'Is our head coach happy with the schedule? Has our athletic director vetted it properly?'

"All of those things have been done."

Georgia defeated Tennessee 38-12 this past September, allowing the Bulldogs to knot the series at 23-23-2. The Bulldogs and Volunteers first vied in 1899, with their most recent November meeting occurring in 1973.

The Auburn-Georgia matchup is known as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, and it was deadlocked at 55-55-8 entering the 2015 season. The Bulldogs have since won four of five meetings, including a 28-7 triumph in the 2017 SEC championship game that avenged a 40-17 loss at Auburn three weeks earlier.

This past November, Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said he would like more spacing between games against Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers played the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide on consecutive Saturdays from 1993 to 2006 and have faced them two weeks apart since.

The last year Auburn and Georgia didn't stage a regular-season meeting in November was 1936.

Asked whether coach Kirby Smart approved of the change, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told reporters, "I think Kirby would be very comfortable with the schedule you'll see in 2020."

Tennessee soon will have its games against top Eastern Division rivals Florida and Georgia spread further apart. The Vols have played the Gators and Bulldogs on consecutive weekends three times in the past five years.

The SEC is still finalizing its 2020 schedule. The league announced its 2019 schedule less than a month into this past season.

McGarity, who has been Georgia's athletic director since 2010, received a one-year contract extension during Wednesday's meeting.

"We're both very comfortable moving forward with this coming year," Morehead said. "After next fall, we'll sit down in the winter, and we'll have another conversation."

The athletic board also approved a new $8.5 million tennis grandstand at Henry Field Stadium.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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