A tale of three schedules

The vast majority of punditry I’ve read on the subject of the 2011 SEC East projects its winner coming from one of three (not necessarily in this order):  Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.  Each has its weaknesses and strengths; I don’t think you can call any one of the three’s chances a slam dunk.

It’s worth taking a look at their schedules and comparing them to see if they give a particular school a leg up in the race.  ESPN did a nice job of laying those out a few weeks ago.  Here they are:

FLORIDA

Nonconference opponents (2010 records)

Sept. 3: Florida Atlantic (4-8)
Sept. 10: UAB (4-8)
Nov. 19: Furman (5-6)
Nov. 26: Florida State (10-4)

SEC home games

Sept. 17: Tennessee
Oct. 1: Alabama
Nov. 5: Vanderbilt
Oct. 29: Georgia (in Jacksonville, Fla.)

SEC road games

Sept. 24: at Kentucky
Oct. 8: at LSU
Oct. 15: at Auburn
Nov. 12: at South Carolina

GEORGIA

Nonconference opponents (with 2010 records)

Sept 3: Boise State (12-1) (in Atlanta, Ga.)
Sept 17: Coastal Carolina (6-6)
Nov. 5: New Mexico State (2-10)
Nov. 26: Georgia Tech (6-7)

SEC home games

Sept. 10: South Carolina
Oct. 1: Mississippi State
Nov. 12: Auburn
Nov. 19: Kentucky

SEC road games

Sept. 24: at Ole Miss
Oct. 8: at Tennessee
Oct. 15: at Vanderbilt
Oct. 29: at Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.)

SOUTH CAROLINA

Nonconference opponents (2010 records)

Sept. 3: East Carolina (6-7)
Sept. 17: Navy (9-4)
Nov. 19: The Citadel (3-8)
Nov. 26: Clemson (6-7)

SEC home games

Sept. 24: Vanderbilt
Oct. 1: Auburn
Oct. 8: Kentucky
Nov. 12: Florida

SEC road games

Sept. 10: at Georgia
Oct. 15: at Mississippi State
Oct. 29: at Tennessee
Nov. 5: at Arkansas

************************************************************************

Here are a few thoughts on comparisons:

  1. Nonconference schedules.  Obviously, these don’t have any direct impact on which school wins the East, but they still have an effect in terms of preparation and breathing space over the course of the season.  Florida has the easiest go of the three here, both in terms of (lack of) quality opponents and timing, as its only tough OOC game comes after the SEC regular season has played out.  South Carolina doesn’t face a ranked non-conference opponent, but if you’re a Georgia fan, you have to like the variation of offensive styles the Gamecocks have to prepare for in their first three games.  Spurrier may not be able to spend as much summer prep time on Georgia as he is rumored to allocate because of that.  Georgia has the marquee OOC foe in Boise State and you’d have to rate the Dawgs’ non-conference schedule as the toughest because of that.
  2. SEC West schedules.  If you believe as most that the three top teams in the West are Alabama, Arkansas and LSU and that all three are valid top-ten programs this season, then Georgia gets an enormous break avoiding all three.  South Carolina does almost as well, though, only facing Arkansas as a road opponent in its penultimate conference game of the season.  Florida has to play Alabama and LSU on back to back Saturdays (and follow that up with a road trip to Auburn).  It’s clear that the Gators have the hardest draw here.
  3. Road game schedules.  All of the road games are conference matchups, as you might expect.  All three schools have one back to back arrangement.  Florida’s looks to be the toughest of the three.  Note that Georgia only has one October game in Athens, though.  South Carolina also has a three game stretch away from its home field with a bye week in the middle.
  4. Ebb and flow.  This is the most interesting part of the scheduling.  Florida has a mellow September ahead of it, with two cupcakes and Tennessee at home and Kentucky on the road.  But its October is just brutal; it’s not hard to see the Gators going 1-3 that month.  And if they’re the wrong three, that’ll pretty much end their chances to win the East.  Georgia, on the other hand, comes out of the gate against two schools which should be ranked in the top fifteen at least (although the Dawgs won’t leave the state to play either).  But from there, Georgia has a great chance to build some real momentum going into the Cocktail Party, and November sets up as well as a red and black partisan could hope, as the Dawgs won’t leave the state to play a game.  South Carolina’s is a mixed bag.  Five of its first six games are in Columbia and so are its last three, but that stretch of its final four conference games, all in a row with the first three on the road, looks formidable.

I’ve said that Georgia’s 2011 schedule lays out nicely.  It certainly looks better than the other two contenders at this point in time, although an 0-2 start could derail the Dawgs faster than either of the others.  Will Muschamp has to deal with scheme changes on both sides of the ball.  Florida’s October schedule doesn’t do him any favors.  Like Georgia, South Carolina has a great chance to build some momentum if it can win in Athens; the question will be what kind of shape are the ‘Cocks in when they hit that long road stretch beginning in mid-October.

The Georgia-South Carolina and Georgia-Florida games look enormous, as the loser of the first will be in immediate scramble mode to get back in the East race, while the loser of the latter is likely eliminated for good.  If the stakes remain high when Florida travels to Columbia, then Muschamp will have proven himself to be a damned good head coach quickly.  Either that, or the East will be in even worse shape than most of us thought.

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43 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

43 responses to “A tale of three schedules

  1. Go Dawgs!

    Florida SEC Home Games: Oct. 29 – Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla)
    Georgia SEC Road Games: Oct. 29 – Florida (at Jacksonville, Fla)

    ESPN gets it.

    • Um… Florida is designated the home team this year. Not by ESPN, but by the SEC.

      • Go Dawgs!

        I realize that. However, it’s pretty funny, to me anyway, to see it broken down like that. Even when we get to bring our red shirts instead of our white shirts, it’s a road game every year.

        • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

          That used not be so.

          Jacksonville once had a larger Georgia influence, but Florida’s success on the Gator Bowl field since 1984 accelerated the shifting alliances in Cowford.

          • JaxDawg

            Why ’84? Florida only won twice in Jacksonville in the 80′s.

            • Wonderful Ohio on the Gulf 'Dog

              I think 1984 was the turning point in the Georgia-Florida series.

              The twelve years preceeding 1984, we lost to the Gators twice. We lost at double that rate (that is, twice in six years) 1984-1989.

              You know what happened after 1989.

              My thinking might be influenced by my living in Jacksonville the 1984 season through the 1987 season (we lost half the time during that four-year period). But I recall leaving the Gator Bowl after the 1984 game thinking I didn’t like the direction things were going.

              • JaxDawg

                I’m sure you did leave that game thinking that things weren’t going well. But then you left the next with thinking things were just dandy. Florida whipped us in ’84 and again in ’86, and that’s it. But to your point, ’84 gave Florida the feeling that they could win and win big, but I’d argue that the ass-whipping we put on them in ’85 removed said confidence.

            • Ausdawg85

              No, no, no…football was not even invented until after 1990. Gators say so.

        • Macallanlover

          Sorry, but that is such crap. When UGA fans/coach/team stop whining and acting like a victim the chances of winning will revert to neutral. If you feel you are beat, you probably are.

          UGA needs to grow up, and man up. Florida changed their whining attitude when Spurrier arrived and told them exactly the same thing, and the series changed. It will change again when UGA mans up and shuts up about this. Frankly, the JAX game is much more equal/neutral than a home and home would be between these two teams. Hostile environment of Sanford versus the Swamp? Not even close. (Plus, it puts those slimeballs within the Athens city limit every other year.)

          • Mike

            Many of us “slimeballs” go to Athens for at least one basketball game every year. Florida fans generally number 2 to 3 thousand strong for that game. We usually have a pretty good time.

            • Macallanlover

              Still prefer to keep the area as “pure” as possible. It is true, I don’t like the Florida fans, and I didn’t before 1990. Until last year when The aU fans showed their true colors, you had no competition for the cellar of SEC football fans.

              Plus, I don’t care one bit about basketball as a sport any longer. Change the channel when ESPN has a story on that, or hockey. You guys can have it. I am certainly in a small minority on this. I take solace that at least our “wimmin” are covered up in the winter.

          • Mayor of Dawgtown

            Sorry Mac but that “man up” stuff is bullshit. We keep sending our team down there so alums who want to go to cocktail parties in Ponte Vedra can have fun at the beach and we keep losing. Take the series home and home or even years in Jax and odd years at the Georgia Dome. Try something different at least. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

            • Macallanlover

              No, it isn’t bullshit. You have such a “little man’s” complex about Jacksonville it has totally blinded you to the obvious. It has no more to do with cocktail parties at Ponte Vedre (it is open 365 24/7 by the way) than Oklahoma/Texas is about the State Fair. It is one of CFB’s most revered traditions. To abandon that because a group of whiners can’t man up and support playing a game under neutral conditions is simply embarrassing. Put on your big boy pants and change out of those jorts. I can never defend UGA fans who cower to UF, it is just indefensible.

              Hopefully Richt will get off his knees on this and get the team tyrned aound ala SOS from the late 80s. Of all the concerns I have ever had about CMR, and they are very few, this is his biggest weakness. Coaches and fans should challenge the team regarding this game, not tell them they are disadvantaged. Worst approach to an athletic contest I have ever seen. Trevino used to say he could not play Augusta National, he never contended there. World’s #1 did the same this year, missed the cut. Dooley never excused losing in jax, he did pretty good. Since then the whiners have dominated UGA discussion boards and talk shows, how is that working out?

              • Mayor of Dawgtown

                “…can’t support playing a game under neutral conditions….” The operative word is “neutral.” Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (or whatever they are calling it this month) isn’t a neutral field. And it is funny that you would trot out the Oklahoma-Texas game as an example. Oklahoma has the winningest record since World War II in college football, winning over 75% of its games. Texas has a good record also but not as good as Oklahoma. Yet Texas has a winning record against Oklahoma since they moved that series to Dallas. I wonder why?

                • Mayor of Dawgtown

                  P.S. Leave off the “man up” horsesh!t will you? You don’t know what the term means. To people like you “man up” means having to drink your scotch without ice at the Ponte Vedra Club. Playing a national power as an away game every year is way beyond your powers of comprehension, addled as they are from over-indulgence.

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    P.P.S. You also proved in the above post that you don’t know sh!t about golf (as well as football–but we all knew that already). Lee Trevino, a short but straight hitter, played a low fade. The Augusta National requires a high hook and length off the tee. Nicklaus could fade the ball and still win because he hit it so far with the driver. Trevino was right. With Trevino’s game he had no chance at winning the Masters.

                    • Macallanlover

                      You appear more ignorant every time you open your keyboard. I know about Lee Trevino than anyone you know having plaed withhim in twi pro-ams and once at a private outing that he paid for and I was invited to. I know his game, and had a conversation with him about this very issue. (His comments actually were more a reflection of his feelings against the August National policies than the course, btw.). I have also played and been on the Augusta National grounds as much as anyone you know as well. Not to mention the thousands of hours I have studied and read about the history of Augusta National, it’s design features, maintenance, and lore. And there is the lack of golf knowledge despite having won numerous tournaments including PGA Pro-Ams, Senior Pro Ams, and LPGA Pro-Ams, or the two Crosby trophies I have in my home for both a first and second place finish. The latter two with $1.5M dollar purses with right to designate charities to receive the purse. You are right, I have no golf credentials to someone as worldly as you. You certainly trumped me with that insider knowledge about Trevino’s ball trajectory.
                      You also have no concept of the word neutral. The game is simply played on a field the same size, with equal tickets, and the same conference designating officials. Can’t get much more neutral than that. Of course there is always that exhausting trip, and night in a hotel to without their own pillows. (Of course UGA has spent the night before some home games in a hotel.) Major excuse/logic there, brilliant.

                      Texas also had a portion of their fanbase who wanted to change the Dallas game to a home and home as recently as 2005 when they began winning again. While living in Texas I heard that argument even though the game was played within the boundaries of the state of Texas. Just the same as Spurrier told me the UF fans were acting when he arrived in Gainesville. Attitude, attitude, attitude, not latitude.

                      The only point you may be right about is using the “man up” term, I can see why that is difficult for a whiner like you. As said before, you, and attitudes like your yours are contributing factors. That probably is hard for you to deal with, the truth often hurts.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Isn’t that just a reference to which uniforms the trams will wear?

  2. Normaltown Mike

    Interesting that the three contenders from SEC East all have an in-state out of conference rival. This is certainly unique in the SEC (unless Arkansas has restarted their fabled rivalry with Ark-Pine Bluff).

    I’d say USC is getting the best of that arrangement at the moment, Florida the toughest (since Jimbo) and we’re somewhere in the middle.

    I don’t see our conference schedule as remarkably better than SC’s. But in degrees, yes. Muschamp is walking into a shit storm.

    • Go Dawgs!

      It probably wouldn’t matter much these days, but I’m sure that Florida’s still glad that they punked out of the annual Miami series.

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      I’m not sure what you mean by USC is “getting the best of that arrangement”, because Clemson has abused South Carolina over the years much worse than we have abused Tech. South Carolina doesn’t even have any pre 1967 glory days to harken back to. South Carolina has a streaklet going right now, but usually if there’s any chance Clemson can beat South Carolina, they do.

    • Two things I like about Georgia’s schedule more than S. Carolina’s: the head-to-head is in Athens and Georgia gets Auburn at home, while SC goes to Arky.

  3. D.N. Nation

    Florida has to play Alabama and LSU on back to back Saturdays (and follow that up with a road trip to Auburn).

    Given that Auburn, for whatever reason, owns Florida, a 0-3 stretch here isn’t that out of the question.

  4. anon

    Hooray for the alternate years where we don’t play 5 SEC road games.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      You mean those years when we get to play only 4 SEC away games like everybody else? The other side of that is that in the years that UGA has 5 SEC AWAY games, Florida has 5 SEC HOME games (counting JAX as a home game for Florida). Is there any wonder why they win the East regularly? The Gators have a 1 home game advantage over every other SEC East team in those years. Frankly, I am flabbergasted that UT and USCe haven’t raised hell with the SEC to make Florida adjust its schedule in those years to give up one SEC home game. Spurrier certainly understands the advantage this “arrangement” gives Florida over the rest of the SEC East, not just UGA.

  5. Noonan

    If we beat SC we should win the East.

    • Hogbody Spradlin

      If we beat Boise and South Carolina we’ll be cooking with gas all the way to Jax.

  6. GreenDawg

    What happens with a three-way tie? Isn’t one of the tiebreakers the BCS rankings? If so then the GT, FSU, and Clemson games could be huge games for all three teams.

    • Mike

      B. THREE (OR MORE) TEAM TIE

      1. (Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, go to the two-team tie-breaker format.)
      2. Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams.
      3. Record of the tied teams within the division.
      4. Head-to-head competition vs. the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.
      5. Overall record vs. non-division teams.
      6. Combined record vs. all common non-divisional teams.
      7. Record vs. common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
      8. The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.

    • D.N. Nation

      The BCS ranking is the 8th and very last tie-breaker determination. It’d be surprising to see something like 2003 happen again.

      • Mike

        I think the format was changed right after 2003? Before that, the BCS tiebreaker was for all three teams. That year, Florida beat UGA and felt is should have been the SECCG rep, save for the swindle at the swamp. Florida losing to FSU put UGA above Florida in the BCS tiebreakers.

        • Hogbody Spradlin

          Oh cry me a river. Florida must be the only team that’s ever suffered a slight in championship game or bowl selection.

          • Mike

            I wasn’t whining Hogbody. I was just pointing out the history of the tie breaker and the reason it changed

            • Hogbody Spradlin

              Yeah, and I jumped you pretty good. Please pardon. In writing, sometimes I cannot tell if somebody is being glib or serious, i.e.: swindle at the swamp.

        • D.N. Nation

          Bzzzzzt.

          Florida was third in the BCS behind Tennessee and Georgia. A win over FSU most likely wouldn’t have been enough to rise the Gators over Georgia, let alone Tennessee. Once Tennessee didn’t lose to Kentucky and Georgia took care of business against Tech, the East race had already been decided.

    • Macallanlover

      The SEC split is almost 20 years old, given the number of tight races in both divisions I am surprised this hasn’t happened more. The only time I remember was the time UGA benefited by their ranking. With three traditionally strong teams in each division, I would have thought this would happen every 2-3 years in either the East or West. This year looks like another good opportunity, especially in the East.