Daily Football Fix: Rating SEC West’s road schedules

[Staff Photo/Erin Nelson

Earlier, we offered up the SEC road schedules for the East and ranked them from easiest to most difficult. It’s even more of a war in the West even with three brand new football coaches in their first years at the school.

Here’s how we see the West SEC road schedules, starting with the easiest:

1. Alabama: Usually, just having a road game at LSU would make this one of the hardest, but does anybody feel that way this year? The other road games are at Ole Miss, at Arkansas and at Tennessee. The really big games will be at home for the Tide, especially Auburn.

2. Arkansas: With a neutral site game against Texas A&M, the Razorbacks have the luxury of only facing three true road tests. They won’t be easy at Auburn, at Mississippi State and at Missouri, the last two to finish the season. They also have a game in Little Rock against Ole Miss.

3. Ole Miss: It’s not going to be easy for coach Matt Luke in conference road games going to LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M and, well, Vanderbilt. But it’s not as bad as it could be.

4. Texas A&M: The Aggies also only have to go on the road three times in conference play. But they are doozies. At Alabama, at South Carolina and at Auburn.

5. Auburn: The Tigers will defend their West title, but they will have to earn it. They go to Mississippi State and Ole Miss early and Georgia and Alabama during a brutal November.

6. LSU: If Ed Orgeron is going to save his job, he’ll probably have to win some tough road games. LSU travels to Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

7. Mississippi State: There are a lot of big games in Starkville this season, but on the road the Bulldogs will have to deal with Kentucky, LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss.

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  1. There’s going to be plenty of comparison this year between Joe Moorehead and Dan Mullen. Moorehead’s taken over a program loaddd with experience, an exceptional senior quarterback who’s a playmaker, and a seeming worthy challenger for second place in the SEC West. Mullen’s trying to reconstruct Florida into a powerhouse, can’t yet identify his quarterback and has to ignore toxins sniping by a portion of Gator partisans. But Moorehead’s roster built by Mullen has to run a tougher gauntlet on the road than Florida will face. The new MSU coach had better lead his team to a home win over Florida or else the home crowd in Mississippi will start second-guessing his hire. Certainly the Bulldogs’ road schedule won’t help.

  2. Much of the publicity about the power of the West is contextual against the weakness of the East. Those of us who have “been around for a while”, so to speak, tend to recognize the cyclic nature of such things. It wasn’t that long ago, for instance, that this power balance was exactly reversed. A few days ago Dan Mullen gave an opinion that the power balance between the East and the West was about to reverse once again. For that, he was declared delusional, nutty, and a host of other mocking descriptors by the national sports media.

    But the signs are there nonetheless, and it doesn’t just depend on the apparent emergence of Georgia.
    I think it will become obvious that Mullen is correct over the next two years.

  3. Gator-6, you’re on target. Several of us on here go waaay back, plenty long enough to know how UF, Tennessee and Georgia in third place most of the time owned the West. Georgia’s arrival as a national power, the combination of Dan Mullen with a strong AD Scott Stricklin — both young and decisive, and even the improvement we’re witnessing in Will Muschamp points to a stronger SEC East. If Jeremy Pruitt can aright UT’s capsized ship the SEC East will cycle back to its dominance.

    Meantime, LSU is on a perilous trek with Ed Orgeron, Ole Miss has taken a step back into mediocrity, and there’s no apparent reason to believe Joe Moorehead will be able to lift Mississippi State higher or necessarily sustain the Bulldogs’ competitive level under Mullen. Jimbo Fisher is an upgrade at A&M but it’s uncertain how far he can take a team without a Heisman-caliber QB. We’ve seen enough of Gus Malzahn to see his ceiling.

    But I expect teams from both sides of the conference to continue their national dominance, as the SEC enables superior recruiting by its ongoing success.

    The Gators in 2-3 years will be among the nation’s best, to the chagrin of the snipers. Whiners and naysayers.

  4. In my humble opinion in the SEC Western Division, the Tide will have some what of a challenging ”away” game schedule this year (YAY!), but will be the favorites, again.
    And M.S.U., when Mullen was at the helm, the Miss. State Bulldogs almost beat the Tide, not too long ago.
    I know the Auburn Tigers always have a shot lately, too. But my Western Div. surprise prediction is the Arkansas Razorbacks. It’s time for that coaching staff to put up or shut up.
    I am just so thankful, as a born and raised Florida Gator fan, that the SEC West Div. teams we play this year are ”do-able”, and M.S.U. will be the toughest road game. And please, no talking about it U.F. Football, show us this season! And please let your play do the talking! Go Gators!

  5. Gator GI, a reminder that the Arkansas coaching staff didn’t put up last year, were not only shut up but sent packing. A new head coach and staff now gets to try doing what Bret Bielema couldn’t pull off. There have been so many coaching changes since a year ago that it’s hard to keep up with them all.

  6. I remember spending a weekend in Mobile, Alabama about a dozen years ago when Alabama was playing Tennessee. As I returned to my hotel and walked through the lobby bar, the game was on and the crowd gathered around was huge. Amusingly, most of the crowd was composed of people attending a wedding reception at the hotel. This included groomsmen, bride’s maids, and the married couple themselves, decked out in tuxedos, gowns, and Bama baseball caps. The rivalry was that intense and Alabama is that boring that everything stopped for that game. Now…eh.

    Times change. Let’s hope they change fast for the Gators.

  7. I agree with the common sentiments here…the East is turning things around and the imbalance will be if not already, a thing of the past. I too am old enough to remember the cyclical nature of divisional strength. To hear the national media these days you’d think the SEC West has been in power since dinosaurs roamed Cross Creek. With UGA already making things happen, I see UF, SC, and eventually UT becoming relevant again. Combined with changes and declines (from 3 ish years ago) for Ole Miss, Arkansas, and maybe even LSU, I see a more balanced conference. And surely Nicky Satan can’t coach forever….. can he?

    • Yeah, he can Rog. Remember, Saban was given dominion over the earth. (Whoops…I meant Satan). But, as the old Florida bumper sticker used to say, “And on the 8th day, God created the Gators….”

      The national sports media, in my opinion, is full of so much moment to moment hyperbole that it really is hard to decipher what the truth actually is sometimes. They certainly don’t have a long term memory, that’s for sure. Except for the Associated Press in general, where opinion usually inserts itself on the front page, no media confederation is worse. That is, of course, my opinion only.

    • Everyone is apparently quaking in their boots over that game, in which MSU is supposedly going to give Dan Mullen a lesson and a beat down all rolled up into one. When pigs fly, of course, but that seems to be the only irrelevant part of the fantasy.