As we get closer to every season, so much of what we perceive a team’s chances to be are based on who they play and when they play them.
In a perfect world, a college football team would have a relatively easy game right before a difficult one followed by another easy one. But in the SEC, that can’t happen.
You still have to play eight games in the conference with one bye week to catch your breath. And how the schedule lays out is in the hands of the SEC office with consideration for requests from the member schools (Florida and Georgia both have an annual bye before they play).
There is no way to avoid some brutal three-game stretches, which are good for the fans but tough on players and coaches. Here are the three toughest, three straight Saturdays where you had better bring it. Survive and you have a chance for a big season:
- Arkansas: at Auburn, Texas A&M in Arlington, Alabama.
The boys from Fayetteville will sleep well after this stretch. Two of these three teams are thinking about a national title and don’t sleep on A&M.
- Tennessee: at Auburn, Alabama, at South Carolina.
Welcome to the SEC, Jeremy Pruitt. For your first season you draw both of the West powers and get them in back-to-back weeks.
- Mississippi State: at Kentucky, Florida, Auburn.
Kentucky might be a swing game for this Bulldogs season. And imagine a team spent from the emotions of playing Dan Mullen turning around to face Auburn.
- LSU: at Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State.
The Florida game will be the second straight in Gainesville and then comes Georgia. Mississippi State will feel like a breather. It’s not.
- Florida: at Tennessee, at Mississippi State, LSU.
First, a rivalry game. Then Dan Mullen’s trip back to his former home. And both of those games on the road. If they don’t decide what kind of season this will be, the third game will.