Daily Blog •February 27, 2013

Yesterday, I broke down the ACC schedules for 2013 with the Hits/Misses from the crossover division games and I will continue the series today with a look at the 2013 SEC Schedule Hits/Misses.

Similar to the ACC, which is now the 2nd conference to move to 14 teams with an 8-game conference schedule, each team in the SEC plays all six of their own division opponents which leaves room for only two crossover games. This gives far less opportunity for teams to play multiple tough opponents from the other division and there was no better example than taking the two teams that played in last year’s SEC Championship game.

Alabama prior to the SEC Champ game, avoided Florida, Georgia and South Carolina easily the three best teams in SEC East while Georgia avoided Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU easily the three best teams in the SEC West. This year again I am using those six teams as the best teams in their respective divisions and with that said here are my SEC Hits/Misses along with some of the marquee non-conference games.

SEC West:

Alabama-For the second year in a row, the Crimson Tide avoid Georgia, Florida and South Carolina from the SEC East and get rebuilding Tennessee and Kentucky with two new head coaches. The defending champs open up non-conference play against Virginia Tech in Atlanta, then have two weeks to prepare for their revenge game at Texas A&M. They also have two weeks to prepare for LSU and clearly the Tide have all the ingredients including the schedule to make a run for a first ever 3-peat!

Arkansas-The Razorbacks were not as fortunate as the Tide as they are 1 of only 2 teams (LSU the other) in the SEC to pull not one but two of the marquee teams from the other division. The Hogs play Florida and South Carolina from the SEC East in back-to-back weeks and those two games are sandwiched between Texas A&M and Alabama, which gives them arguably the toughest 4-game stretch of any team in the country for 2013. The good news is that the non-conference slate looks manageable, but they do have to play at Rutgers who beat them a year ago.

Auburn-The Tigers pull a road trip to Tennessee and also Georgia from the SEC East. They have to play two of the top SEC West teams on the road in LSU and Texas A&M but do get a bye week prior to their home game against arch rival Alabama.

LSU-Not only did the Tigers lose a record 11 early entries to the NFL Draft this year, but the schedule makers also did not do them any favors as they pull Florida and Georgia from the SEC East. They also open up the season against TCU in Arlington but do get a bye week prior to Alabama and also Texas A&M this year.

Mississippi-The Rebels have been one of this year’s offseason buzz teams as they signed arguably their greatest incoming frosh class in school history and have more returning starters than any team in the SEC for 2013. Their SEC schedule also seems them avoid all three of the top teams in the SEC East, but they do have a difficult start to the season as they play four road games in the first five including trips to Vandy, Texas and Alabama before playing LSU and Texas A&M at home in B2B weeks.

Mississippi St-The Bulldogs pull South Carolina from the SEC East and their November schedule includes B2B road trips to the Gamecocks and Aggies followed by a home game against the Crimson Tide. They do open the season with Oklahoma St, who figures to be one of the Big 12 favorites but the rest of their September/October slate seems manageable.

Texas A&M-The Aggies along with the Crimson Tide figure to be the two SEC teams that are sure fire locks to be in the preseason AP Top 5 and why not as like the Tide, the Aggies avoid the “Big 3” from the SEC East. They also get the all-important game vs Alabama at home, have a bye prior to their road trip to LSU and their non-conference slate includes 4 non-BCS teams.

SEC East:

None of the SEC East teams pull two of the “Big 3” in their crossover games but only South Carolina avoids all three.

Georgia-The Bulldogs have made B2B SEC Championship game appearances much to the credit of some advantageous conference scheduling as they have avoided the three best teams in the SEC West each year. That changes this year as they pull LSU from the SEC West but do play them at home. They do have only 3 SEC road games this year, but no team in the country may start off with a tougher 2-game stretch than a road trip to Clemson followed by a home game against a South Carolina team that embarrassed them a year ago.

Florida-Last year the Gators pulled both LSU and Texas A&M from the SEC West but were able to beat them both. This year again they again draw LSU but this time away from home as they have only 3 SEC home games. Their non-conference slate also is tougher as they add a road trip to Miami, Fl in addition to Florida St.

Kentucky-The Wildcats draw Alabama from the SEC West and have a very tough stretch against Florida, at South Carolina and Alabama in late September-Early October but on the bright side it is sandwiched by a pair of bye weeks.

Missouri-The Tigers found the transition to the SEC a little tougher than their former Big 12 brethren Texas A&M last year and it will get no easier in year 2 as they pull A&M from the West and also must play at a resurgent Ole Miss team. The key to their season will be a 4-game stretch from October 12-November 2 as they play Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee with three of those games coming in Columbia.

South Carolina-Head coach Steve Spurrier has been quick to note that the Gamecocks have the best record against their SEC East competitors over the past 2 years but have failed to make it to Atlanta due to the uneven crossover division schedules. This year that all changes as the Gamecocks avoid all 3 of the best teams in the SEC West, but they do open up with B2B games against North Carolina and a road trip to Georgia. They do get an all-important bye prior to a home game against Florida and then also get in-state rival Clemson at home in the finale.

Tennessee-The Volunteers have drawn the short straw as of late as they have routinely pulled LSU and Alabama from the SEC West. This year they again play Alabama and have brutal B2B road games against Oregon and Florida in September. They do get Georgia and South Carolina at home and their last four games would all fall into the winnable category.

Vanderbilt-There may not be another coach in America that’s done a more impressive job the last two years than James Franklin as the Commodores look to continue their positive momentum off B2B bowls and last year’s remarkable 9-win season. This year they do pull a road trip at A&M from the West and arguably the biggest game of the year for them might come in the opener against Ole Miss as both teams will be looking to make their case as a Top 25 team. They do have to have to travel to both South Carolina and Florida in SEC East play.