Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: SEC

First, a quick note: one of my favorite college football blogs, Sunday Morning Quarterback, is back. I’ve been following Matt Hinton’s other efforts since he retired from doing SMQ four years ago, but none of them are quite the same as the more long-form, statistically-inclined writing he produced for his original blog.

So anyway, we’ll wrap up our tour of this year’s non-conference schedules with the SEC.

  1. Alabama (1 legit, 1 FCS): N-Michigan, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina. Alabama-Michigan is one of the most intriguing games of this season, though it’s hard to see how Michigan will win unless Denard Robinson is just utterly beguiling to Alabama’s uber-disciplined defense.
  2. Mississippi (1, 1): Central Arkansas, Texas-El Paso, Texas, @Tulane. Ole Miss gets two teams from Texas in town. Will they be good enough to beat either?
  3. Florida (1, 1): Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, @Florida State. Not much to look at here other than the obligatory FSU game, which is why this is #3 on this list.
  4. Auburn (0.75, 1): N-Clemson, Louisana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical. Tigers-Tigers is back once again. I was hoping Auburn also played Mizzou, but they’ll be the other other Tigers in the SEC schedule this year. Also, I find it a bit odd that Auburn would actually play Alabama A&M, but A&M’s probably just that bad that they’re not as worried as they would be about playing, say, the Troys or UABs of the world.
  5. South Carolina (0.75, 1): East Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham, Wofford, @Clemson. Unfortunately, I had to break this tie backed on the strength of obligatory rivalry games. Us Tech fans tend to be a self-deprecating bunch, though, so it wasn’t really that hard of a decision. Also, that makes UGA look worse, which is also always a good thing.
  6. Georgia (0.75, 1): Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech. Suspicious Tech fans would probably that UGA is playing Georgia Southern, who run pretty much the same offense as us, as preparation for the game against us. To which I’d say, you’re probably over-thinking it.
  7. Vanderbilt (0.75, 1.5): @Northwestern, Presbyterian, Massachusetts, @Wake Forest. Next year, this schedule would let Vandy get up to the 4th spot because they’re playing two major conference teams (even if they are Northwestern and Wake Forest), but alas, UMass is still provisional.
  8. Louisiana State (0.5, 1): North Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson. Well, there is that game against UDub. Honestly, the game I’m looking to most this year for LSU is the Arkansas game. Les Miles versus John L. Smith, a matchup of two of the probably craziest coaches in major college football.
  9. Missouri (0.5, 1): Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, @Central Florida, Syracuse. Now that the Mizzou-Illinois series is over, Mizzou’s schedule is just that much more boring. How did it not work out for them to play Kansas again?
  10. Tennessee (0.5, 1): N-North Carolina State, Georgia State, Akron, Troy. If the Tennessee-NC State game were scheduled for, let’s say, Octoboer, then I’m not sure anyone would care outside of their respective fanbases. But hey, have it to help kick off the season? Now we’re talking.
  11. Kentucky (0.5, 1): @Louisville, Kent State, Western Kentucky, Samford. Not much to see here. Obligatory rivalry game, a MAC team, another in-state team that it would be really funny if they lost to, and an FCS team. Again, not much to see here.
  12. Arkansas (0.25, 1): Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe, Rutgers, Tulsa. Well, I already used my Arkansas-LSU thing for LSU, so I have to figure out an alternate strategy to use here. Maybe complain about how last year this would be the last blurb I’d have to write? No, not quite true yet. Maybe point out that the UL-Monroe game will be at Arkansas’s home-away-from-home, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock? Maybe look up to see if the Rutgers game has a return leg? Let’s go with that, because yes it does: the Razorbacks will make the return trip to scenic Piscataway, New Jersey. Well, I’m guessing it’s scenic because the Wikipedia article only has a picture of dudes grilling Greek food on it and not any pictures of the town.
  13. Mississippi State (0, 1.5): Jackson State, @Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State. Watch out, Miss State: the last major conference team to visit Troy was Oklahoma State in 2007. They lost 41-23. Other than that, not much here to worry about for the bulldogs.
  14. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 2): N-Louisiana Tech, @Southern Methodist, South Carolina State, Sam Houston State. I’m not sure if the LaTech game is a neutral game site game or not, as it could just be a home game that’s being played in Shreveport instead of Ruston. Either way, A&M probably is probably as worried about this schedule as I am excited about it, which is to say, not very worried at all.

That’s that! Soon, a hastily put together wrap-up of it all, and then hopefully the opening weekend TV guide in time for the kickoffs Thursday.