From today’s CFN, there’s an interesting point made about the SEC’s out of conference schedule this season. It’s interesting mainly because it’s not critical.
Schedule-wise, the SEC hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to seek out nasty non-conference games over the years. “The league schedule is hard enough,” SECers would say. Not this season. You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest conference in the world, the SEC is going out of its way to prove it deserves its reputation. Oh sure, there are a whole slew of Sun Belt battles to get sleepy over, but there’s also a ton of appointment television to be had.
Alabama is facing off against Clemson, probably the best team in the ACC this season, in Atlanta. Arkansas is going to Texas. Auburn hosts Southern Miss and goes to West Virginia. Florida goes against Hawaii (fine, so that sounds better than it’ll actually be), Miami, and finishes up the regular season at Florida State. Georgia travels to Arizona State and finishes up with Georgia Tech. Kentucky has its rivalry date at Louisville. LSU faces Troy in the lightest of SEC non-conference schedules. Ole Miss goes to Wake Forest. Mississippi State goes to Georgia Tech. South Carolina plays NC State and finishes up with its rivalry date at Clemson. Tennessee goes to UCLA. Vanderbilt finishes up with the regular season at Wake Forest. That’s 11 very good, very interesting road tests that could cement once and for all that the SEC is the best in the business. Or it could go to show that it’s just like everyone else. At least the games are being played.
And it’s not just the SEC that will be playing in some newly hatched matchups. Here’s a baker’s dozen (non-rivalry) OOC games I’m looking forward to seeing in 2008, some for perverse reasons, some not so:
- August 30 – Southern Cal at Virginia. I’ll be attending this one. It’s the biggest opening game ever in Charlottesville. I’m not expecting overly much from the home team, but who knows – the last game I attended there was this one.
- August 30 – Clemson vs. Alabama (in Atlanta). When you force Georgia Tech to move its first game under Paul Johnson to avoid having all of the media oxygen sucked out of the room, you know you’re hot stuff, baby. (Both schools ought to have resolved their roster problems by then, right?)
- September 6 – Tennessee at UCLA. Norm Chow gets his shot at John Chavis. Maybe Phil and Rick can swap recruiting tips in their pregame chat.
- September 6 – Miami at Florida. Da U better have found a QB by then. Matt Patchan ought to see a lot of smiles from the guys he dissed during recruiting.
- September 13 – Ohio State at Southern Cal. There won’t be much at stake in this game.
- September 13 – UCLA at Brigham Young. If BYU wants to be the BCS party crasher this season, it’ll have to go through Slick Rick to do it.
- September 13 – Arkansas at Texas. After a couple of cupcake games, the Petrino Era gets underway for real with this one. Should be a good chess match between The Wanderer (somebody needs to come up with a Petrino drinking game before this one gets played) and Coach “Boom MFer”.
- September 20 – Georgia at Arizona State. Georgia’s first regular season trip outside the South in decades, yada, yada, yada. SEC vs. Pac-10, yada, yada, yada.
- September 20 – Mississippi State at Georgia Tech. It’s too early for Paul Johnson to get Croomed, but if Tech is sloppy with the football, this is another bunch of Bulldogs that will make the Jackets pay.
- September 27 – Virginia Tech at Nebraska. Bo Pelini’s first test against a credible opponent, if Virginia Tech’s offense rolls against the Huskers, we’ll know how far he’s got to go to repair the program from where Bill Callahan left it.
- October 23 – Auburn at West Virginia. The Tigers travel to the land of the burning couches.
- October 25 – Notre Dame at Washington. This one ought to be delicious to watch if Willingham gets the victory. If the Irish win, it’ll be like a mega-dose of Viagra for Tom Lemming. In any event, this will likely be one of the most hyped games of the regular season – far all the wrong reasons, as both teams will struggle to become bowl eligible.
- November 1 – Tulsa at Arkansas. Gus Malzahn comes home, but without the Nuttster to pitch FOIA requests at anymore, Arky fans’ loyalties are divided between the old and the new. Oh yeah – this may the game with the over/under closest to 100 that any BCS school plays in ’08.
- November 22 – Cal Poly at Wisconsin. Just kidding. Seriously, can you imagine a lamer regular season finale? How many fans do they think will show up for a game in Wisconsin in late November against a cupcake’s cupcake? From a fan’s perspective, this one’ll separate the men from the boys.