blech to a La Tech who won 8 games, smashed Ole Miss, took MSU to OT, lost by a total of 3 points to Houston and Southern Miss, and nearly beat TCU in their bowl game? Ok....
Over the course of this week — in addition to daily headlines, breaking news, and recruiting coverage — MrSEC.com will unveil the 50 SEC football games this fall that yours truly is most interested in watching. With two new schools in the league these days, we’re up to 56 in-conference games alone. So it would be easy to just to lump ‘em all in to my list and weed out what looked on paper to be the worst six games.
But that’s not the plan. Instead, I’ll start at the beginning of the season and work my way through the final Saturday. The games will be in order by week, but those I’m most interested in seeing will be listed from least-interesting to most-interesting (each week), building all the way to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
So why is a specific game of interest to me? Well, it might look like it will have a significant impact on a coach’s tenure. It might feature bad blood between coaches, teams or fans. It might determine a division championship… or even the sleeper status of a given team. It might be an ancient rivalry or a game that we just normally aren’t used to seeing.
It’s just one man’s opinion and I’m sure everyone out there has one of their own, but here’s the first part of mine — games 50-41 starting with Week One:
Week One (weekend of September 1st) — A bad first week features nonconference foes: Jacksonville State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, North Texas, Central Arkansas, Jackson State, Southeastern Louisiana, and Louisiana Tech. Blech.
50. Kentucky at Louisville — How much improvement will Kentucky’s offense show? More importantly, Joker Phillips can’t afford to get off to a bad start against UK’s in-state rival.
49. South Carolina at Vanderbilt — Is Steve Spurrier’s squad ready for another Top 10 season? Can Vandy’s James Franklin spring an upset and earn himself even more national pub?
48. Auburn vs Clemson (Atlanta) — Gene Chizik has sandwiched a national title season in between a pair of 8-5 seasons on the Plains. Young once more, is his 2012 squad looking at another five-loss type of year?
47. Tennessee vs NC State (Atlanta) — Win and the Vols could be viewed as a sleeper in the so-so SEC East. Lose and Derek Dooley could really face a real uphill climb just to save his job.
46. Alabama vs Michigan (Arlington, TX) — The SEC and Nick Saban versus Jim “I don’t have a lot of regard for that team” Delany’s Big Ten. BCS hopes are on the line for both squads in this massive, early-season, big-name tilt.
Week Two (weekend of September 8th)
45. Auburn at Mississippi State — The Tigers barely hung on at game’s end last season. After three years with no wins over SEC West foes other than Ole Miss, will this be Dan Mullen’s big breakthrough?
44. Washington at LSU — The Huskies figure to be a bowl team and perhaps a sleeper in the Pac-12 this season. While UW isn’t Alabama, this will be the Tigers first “big” game test since their bitter BCS title game disappointment.
43. Florida at Texas A&M — Kyle Field will be rocking as the Aggies’ first SEC home date features a visit from ex-Texas assistant Will Muschamp (who took a little dig at College Station this spring). It’s also the first chance to see Kevin Sumlin’s reconfigured offense against an SEC defense.
42. Georgia at Missouri — Faurot Field and quarterback James Franklin (if he’s healthy) will welcome in the SEC East favorites (minus several defensive backs). With emotion on the Tigers’ side, this could be UGA’s toughest game outside of South Carolina and rival Florida.
Week Three (weekend of September 15th)
41. Texas at Ole Miss — Okay, so this isn’t exactly a clash of Top 10 teams. Still, Texas taking the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is the kind of nonconference game many of us would like to see more often.
We’ll pick up with Week Three tomorrow and count down from 40 through 31.
For a complete look at the SEC’s grid schedule, click right here.