Rating the 2008 Non-Conference Slate, Part 6: SEC

Sorry for the delay, but real life and its associated things got in the way of me finishing this. So let’s wrap ‘er up.

  1. Florida (2 legit, 1 DI-AA): Hawaii, Miami (FL), The Citadel, @Florida State. Thanks to rivalry games, this is probably the most intriguing OOC schedule of any SEC team. Other schools (UGA, Auburn, Tennessee) have a single intriguing OOC game (well, for most folks) which puts them further down the list. Also, it’s interesting to see that Hawaii can get teams to schedule them now.
  2. Georgia (1.75, 1): Georgia Southern, Central Michigan, @Arizona State, Georgia Tech. Georgia Southern fans are, of course, licking their chops for another shot at the in-state favorites. While I’d love to see it, I’m not nearly as optimistic as them. I’ve said a million times in this space how amazing it is to see UGA travel further west than Fayetteville, Arkansas for a regular season football game – again, the first time since 1965. And, of course, there’s that pesky contest two days after Thanksgiving…
  3. South Carolina (1.5, 1): North Carolina State, Wofford, Alabama-Birmingham, @Clemson. NCSU is a good OOC choice, and Clemson is, of course, the rivalry game. A little meatier than the fare The Visor typically puts on his OOC plate, but overall still pretty mediocre.
  4. Arkansas (1, 1): Western Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe, @Texas, Tulsa. I always like seeing the old SWC rivalries renewed, Texas-Arkansas being the chief among them. I don’t know if Arkansas fans consider LSU or Texas a bigger rival at this point, but it’s always a treat regardless. The rest of the schedule is a joke.
  5. Auburn (1, 1): Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, Tennessee-Martin. As most folks probably now by now, Southern Miss fired their long time coach after last season. I expect to see morale fall off the table at USM and it will probably be a long time before they start scaring the heavyweights again. UL-M and UT-Martin and the typical joke options here, but it was a real toss-up for me whether to put West Virginia ahead of Texas or not. Either way, WVU is not typical SEC fare so this should be an extremely interesting game on the Plains.
  6. Tennessee (1, 0): Alabama-Birmingham, @California-Los Angeles, Northern Illinois, Wyoming. Tennessee once again schedules a Pac-10 team, and also manages not to play any DI-AA teams. A commendable thing to be sure, because while UAB, NIU, and Wyoming may not be much more likely to beat the Vols than the Samfords of the world at least they have something of a chance.
  7. Alabama (1, 0.5): N-Clemson, Tulane, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State. Huge neutral site matchup versus Clemson at the Georgia Dome to open up the season for ‘Bama. Fun fact: did you know that Tulane was one of the original 13 members of the SEC? Indeed they were, leaving the conference in 1966 due mostly to being terrible. (The other original members were Suwanee and Georgia Tech.)
  8. Vanderbilt (0.75, 0): @Miami (OH), Duke, Rice, @Wake Forest. Vandy schedules to their level, but also lacks DI-AA teams. A good job here. I would expect them go to 3-1 against this schedule, but I don’t know for sure how they’re going to fare this year.
  9. Mississippi State (0.75, 1): @Louisiana Tech, Southeast Louisiana, @Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee State. Remember how I said GT used to be in the SEC? And that only 3 schools have left? So, you may be thinking that GT-MSU will be restoring some ancient rivalry that dates back to the very beginnings of college football, having been in the same conference all those years. And you would be wrong. Georgia Tech and Miss State have played each other twice, in 1908 and 1929, while both were still members of the Southern Conference. (Tech won both games.) How was this possible? Until relatively recently, SEC teams could set their own conference schedules. Tech gained nothing by traveling to Mississippi to play Miss State or Ole Miss, and so they simply didn’t schedule them.
  10. Mississippi (0.75, 1): Memphis, @Wake Forest, Samford, Louisiana-Monroe. We’re starting to get into joke schedule territory, but at least Ole Miss is terrible. Also, the sports writing world misses you, Coach O.
  11. Kentucky (0.5, 1): @Louisville, Norfolk State, Akron, Temple. Kentucky was pretty bad for a long time, so they probably set their schedule accordingly. Nonetheless, when your OOC rival provides your only legit game you may want to re-examine your scheduling philosophy.
  12. Louisiana State (0.25, 1): Appalachian State, North Texas, Troy, Tulane. And I’m looking at you LSU. Seriously, who are you trying to fool here? App State (last year’s DI-AA champs) may actually be the toughest team on this schedule, depending on if Troy can recover from their last game collapse last year. Looking at this slate too long makes me physically ill, so let’s move on.

So that’s all for now. If I can get the numbers worked out, I’ll get you the hardest OOC schedules on a subjective and objective basis, at least as much as I can. This may take awhile (as in, a month). So, until next time folks.