Grading SEC Slates: Part 3
Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.
OK, it's crunch time.
We've looked at the SEC schedules for the upcoming season in thirds and today is the final third. The games are bigger and even more important when we get to the end. If you're going to lose one game, you don't want it to be late.
This may be one of the last years of some of the big rivalries between SEC teams and in-state teams that aren't in the conference. If the schools that favor a nine-game conference schedule win out, it's going to be difficult for Florida to play Florida State and South Carolina to play Clemson.
But that's getting ahead of things. Let's see how the 14 schools rank in terms of their finishing schedules:
At Arkansas, at Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama
The good news is that the final two are at home. But this is a rough way to finish, especially if the Vols and Razorbacks are improved under their first-year coaches. Auburn lost to Georgia and Alabama last year by a combined score of 87-0.
2. MISSISSIPPI STATE
At Texas A&M, Alabama, at Arkansas, Ole Miss
The first two games of this finish are going to be rough, and then the Bulldogs close with a rivalry game. This will be an interesting season in Starkville and how they close will be decisive.
Furman, at Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas
The Alabama game should be another classic, and don't forget that the Tigers were one of the few teams who contained Johnny Football last year. It's interesting that the Tigers have open dates before and after the Alabama game.
LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn
Mississippi State could be a perfect trap game after the LSU game, but Nick Saban is pretty good at avoiding traps. The Tide has a bye week before they face LSU. Who knows if the closing game against Auburn will be competitive?
Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, Georgia Southern, FSU
Gator fans hope the game in Columbia will be crucial to their chances to win the East. The FSU game could be another huge one if both teams play up to expectations.
Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Certainly, the first three games are all winnable for the Tigers. But they are also games Missouri could lose, especially if coach Gary Pinkel's job security is weakened by earlier losses.
Auburn, at Ole Miss, Mississippi State, at LSU
Nothing but West teams here at the end for the Razorbacks. We'll know a lot more about the Razorbacks by the time they get to the final four.
8. SOUTH CAROLINA
Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
The breather in the penultimate game helps. So does having four straight home games to close out the season. So does the Gamecocks having a bye week before Florida.
9. TEXAS A&M
UTEP, Mississippi State, at LSU, at Missouri
It's tough to have to go on the road for the last two games of the season. But that's what the Aggies face.
At Florida, Kentucky, at Tennessee, Wake Forest
The Commodores are going to need a couple of wins down the stretch to keep momentum going.
Missouri, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, Tennessee
Those aren't easy road games. The question is whether they will matter or not for the Wildcats.
At Missouri, Auburn, Vanderbilt, at Kentucky
Four SEC opponents to finish out the season and once again the Vols have a schedule that gets easier in the back end.
13. OLE MISS
Arkansas, Troy, Missouri, at Mississippi State
The Rebels have three home games before traveling to their in-state rival.
Appalachian State, at Auburn, Kentucky, at Georgia Tech
This ranking is based on a belief that Auburn and Tech, which Georgia beat by a combined score of 80-10 last season, won't be drastically improved.
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