3. The non-conference games
Again, every SEC team has its nice-and-breezy week. In the best conference in college football, go ahead and have that light scrimmage to break things up. That’s okay, but there had better be a strong date against another Power Five team in non-conference play.
There always is, but it’s a constant beef from other leagues – the SEC doesn’t really like to travel.
Oh sure, it’ll play neutral site games in Atlanta, and Houston, and Arlington, but it’s not easy to get the top teams out of their respective comfort zones.
To keep hammering that point home, most top SEC teams deserve a wee bit of a pass – they all get an Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, or Auburn to deal with at some points.
So what’s everyone’s big non-conference game, and who’s the FCSer pay-to-play date?
Florida – It’s a relatively light non-conference schedule if Florida State isn’t any good. That comes at the end of the regular season; Eastern Washington and its dangerous FCS offense kicks it off.
Georgia – The Bulldogs start out with a strong game against Virginia in Atlanta, and they end with their annual ACC date against Georgia Tech. However, after playing the Cavs, they get East Tennessee State.
Kentucky – At Louisville. That’s the regular-season-ender, and Eastern Illinois is in the middle of the campaign.
Missouri – Central Arkansas kicks things off for the Eli Drinkwitz era, but going to BYU is a decent test. Watch out for Louisiana late in the season.
South Carolina – Give South Carolina a hard pass for scheduling Wofford. That comes before the date at Clemson.
Tennessee – The Vols deserve a break after going to Oklahoma. They get Furman sandwiched between the Sooners and Florida.
Vanderbilt – The season kicks off against Mercer, but two weeks later is a trip to Kansas State.
Alabama – USC in Jerry World -that’s a rock-solid non-conference game. The UT-Martin game comes between at LSU and Texas A&M.
Arkansas – The Hogs have to go to Notre Dame, and they get Charleston Southern in the middle of the season.
Auburn – Alcorn State kicks things off, and then it’s North Carolina in Atlanta.
LSU – There’s no dogging the defending national champs for playing Texas. The Nicholls State scrimmage comes before going to Florida.
Miss State – At NC State isn’t as strong a game as it looked to be when it was originally scheduled, but it’s fine. Alabama A&M is the tune-up before the showdown against Ole Miss.
Ole Miss – Lane Kiffin starts out with a showdown against Baylor in Houston. That’s followed up by SE Missouri State.
Texas A&M – After scheduling Clemson the last two years, give A&M a bit of a pass for Colorado being the hardest non-conference game. Abilene Christian starts it all off.
Okay, so you still don’t like all the games against bad teams. Fine. This year, the SEC is giving you a present …