An early look at 2014 SEC schedules

I had several questions about how every school’s schedule was shaping up for next season, so I thought I’d take a minute or two and break those down.

A couple of general notes:  all but two SEC schools play seven home games (the outliers are TAMU, with six, and Vanderbilt, which plays eight) and the art of scheduling truly wretched non-conference games seems to be reaching new heights, as you will see.

All schedules are via fbschedules.com.

ALABAMA

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Florida, Tennessee
  • Non-conference opponents:  West Virginia, FAU, S. Miss., W. Carolina

The combined 2013 record of Alabama’s non-conference opponents is 13-35.  The cross-division games feature two programs that weren’t bowl eligible this season.  There’s an open date before the road test at LSU.  Nick Saban has time for this shit.  Favorability grade:  A.

ARKANSAS

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Georgia, Missouri
  • Non-conference opponents:  Nicholls State, Texas Tech (R), Northern Illinois, UAB

The non-conference slate isn’t too embarrassing, with one game on the road and an above-average MAC squad.  Fairly tough draw out of the East isn’t optimal, but at least the Hogs managed to schedule open dates before their games with LSU and Alabama.  Not that it’s likely to do them much good.  Favorability grade:  C.

AUBURN

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  South Carolina, Georgia
  • Non-conference opponents:  San Jose State, Kansas State (R), La.  Tech, Samford

Fess up – you thought for sure the Tigers had eight home games this year, right?  Well, they don’t, and they drew two of the better East teams to boot.  The KSU game is intriguing, but the non-conference schedule doesn’t look too daunting.  Starting in October, they play six straight conference games with a bye week tossed in before seeing Samford and then hitting the Iron Bowl.  Favorability grade:  B.

FLORIDA

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Alabama, LSU
  • Non-conference opponents:  Idaho, E. Michigan, E. Kentucky, FSU

The Gators drew the short straw on the cross-division games next season.  The good thing is that the first three games of the season are soft and should let them build a little momentum before traveling to Tuscaloosa.  The bad thing is that trip starts a run of seven straight conference games.  And the season ends with a visit to Tallahassee.  At least there is the traditional bye week before the Cocktail Party.  Favorability grade:  D+.

GEORGIA

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Arkansas, Auburn
  • Non-conference opponents:  Clemson, Troy, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech

Georgia is the only SEC team playing two BCS conference schools on its non-conference schedule.  Even with that and the game in Jacksonville, though, there are still seven home games on the schedule, so McGarity’s work is done in that department for next season.  And there’s no Alabama, LSU or TAMU to worry about.  Favorability grade:  B-.

KENTUCKY

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  LSU, MSU
  • Non-conference opponents:  UT Martin, Ohio, ULM, Louisville

The non-conference slate is weak, but how much difference will that make?  Favorability grade:  C.

LSU

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Florida, Kentucky
  • Non-conference opponents:  Wisconsin, Sam Houston State, ULM, New Mexico State

Hard to see what Les will complain about next year.  Even the open dates, before Alabama and Texas A&M, are well-placed.  Slightly lower grade than Alabama due to tougher non-conference opponent in Wisconsin.  Favorability grade:  A-.

MISSOURI

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  TAMU, Arkansas
  • Non-conference opponents:  S. Dakota State, Toledo (R), UCF, Indiana

The Tigers were able to use their early schedule to build a lot of momentum for their success this season, and they look to follow a similar path in 2014, as their first four games feature non-conference foes.  Toledo on the road is a little weird, and they need to keep an eye out for UCF, but overall, things look manageable.  The two open dates break up the eight-game conference run.  Favorability grade:  B.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  Kentucky, Vanderbilt
  • Non-conference games:  S. Miss., UAB, S. Alabama (R!), UT Martin

South Alabama on the road?  Ho-kay.  Other than that, things lay out about as well as the Bulldogs could hope.  Which means they’re still gonna have to beat some teams from the West to get anywhere.  Favorability grade:  A.

OLE MISS

  • Sites:  7 home, 4 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  Vanderbilt, Tennessee
  • Non-conference games:  Boise State, Louisiana, Memphis, Presbyterian

The story here isn’t the matchups, which are pretty good, but the way the schedule lays out.  The open dates are before Memphis and Arkansas.  Mississippi has a five-game run starting in October that features Alabama, TAMU, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn.  Favorability grade:  B-.

SOUTH CAROLINA

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  TAMU, Auburn
  • Non-conference games:  E. Carolina, Furman, S. Alabama, Clemson

I guess the OBC will be doing a little grousing about the cross-division games next year.  The ‘Cocks open with Texas A&M, so it’s hard to see how much preseason attention Spurrier can devote to preparation for the meeting with Georgia.  East Carolina was a double-digit winner in 2013, so he can’t exactly ignore that game, either.  Favorability grade:  C-.

TENNESSEE

  • Sites:  7 home, 5 road
  • Cross-division games:  Ole Miss, Alabama
  • Non-conference games:  Utah State, Arkansas State, Oklahoma (R), Chattanooga

At least the Vols scheduled themselves an open date between Oklahoma and Georgia.  Other than that, they aren’t getting many favors.  Even November looks tougher than usual, with South Carolina and Missouri waiting.  Favorability grade:  C-.

TEXAS A&M

  • Sites:  6 home, 5 road, 1 neutral
  • Cross-division games:  S. Carolina, Missouri
  • Non-conference games:  Lamar, Rice, SMU (R), ULM

The neutral site game is against Arkansas.  The non-conference schedule, even with a trip to SMU, is sorry.  They have an open date before meeting LSU.  Favorability grade:  B.

VANDERBILT

  • Sites:  8 home, 4 road
  • Cross-division games:  Ole Miss, MSU
  • Non-conference games:  Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion

Hands down, the most embarrassing schedule in the conference.  Well done, ‘Dores.  Favorability grade:  A+.

About these ads

44 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

44 responses to “An early look at 2014 SEC schedules

  1. Bob

    Actually Mizzou plays 2 BCS OOC teams as does Georgia. Indiana and UCF qualify, if the former barely does in football. ;)

  2. DawgPhan

    I like the UGA schedule for next year. Big opener, bye weeks in the right place, fun road trips to UK and MIZZOU and getting Auburn back in Athens.

  3. Careful Brad

    Once again Alabama escapes playing Georgia from the East. That is some fortunate scheduling on their part but of course their PR people in Birmingham will spin it the other way.

  4. GaskillDawg

    Yeah, Bear Bryant avoided playing Dooley after Dooley beat him in 1965. Bear only played Dooley four times after that, 1972, 1973, 1976 and 1977.

    Alabama folks and its media lemmings spun it as Dooley docking Alabama. I view it as Bryant ducking Georgia so he could continue playing Mississippi State

    • It’s Alabama’s league. We just play in it. #1second

    • Watchman

      The Saturday Evening Post and Furman Bisher might have had a tiny bit to do with the ending of that series as a regular rivalry as well.

      • GaskillDawg

        It did. I interviewed Dooley when I was in college in the 1970’s. He explained that the SEC had a meeting in the early-mid 1960’s about scheduling. Back then gate receipts were the biggest money-makers. Everybody wanted to play Alabama and Tennessee and LSU and Mississippi because they were the best draws, would bring ticket-buying fans and teams could sell out when they came to town. Mississippi State didn’t draw files and a home game with MSU did not guarantee a sell-out. The league only required 5 conference games so not everyone could play Alabama every year. The conference met and, among other things, tried to divvy up the more desirable teams among all the members. The Saturday Evening Post fallout was a factor in not making Alabama and UGA permanent rivals, but Bear Bryant could have gotten us as a permanent rival if he wanted. The idea that young Coach Dooley could wield more influence in the early 1960’s in the conference in scheduling than Bear Bryant did is laughable. If Bryant wanted UGA on Alabama’s schedule he could have. The Saturday Evening Post stuff provided Bryant cover for not playing UGA.

        • Thanks for that insight.

          Yeah, it was a cover. Bryant recognized Dooley as a tough out. I once heard him say, “when you play Dooley and Georgia you know they are going to be well-prepared. They’re going to be well-coached and they’re gonna be physical.”
          ~~~

          • Dog in Fla

            I once heard him say that the Dooley boy had the best longsnapper that he had ever seen. Immediately thereafter, Bear fired off a Chesterfield with his MNC Zippo commemorative lighter, tore open a couple of bags of Golden Flakes and opened a bottle of Cocola as a mixer because some days he just didn’t feel neat.

  5. I’ve been thinking this for a good while now: we have a favorable schedule in ’14, so if the defense can progress accordingly, Mason is a little better than serviceable, and we stay healthy (especially #3), we will make a run back to ATL & be in play for the CFP.

    • I meant to add: Given how ’13 panned out, Aaron’s injury becomes a blessing in disguise since it gets Mason all the snaps against quality competition. There’s no telling how much mileage he will get out of bringing us back on The Flats and getting to go at Nebraska’s improving defense.

      • uglydawg

        stoop…I believe! I said, months ago, that Georgia will be a top three team next year…Of course I’ll hedge my bet if the injury bug is as strong as it was this year..but if everyone stays healthy we’re going to be happy. Just like last year…we’ll know a lot after Clemson.

  6. SC DAWG

    I gotta tell ya boys, I’m feeling frisky about this schedule and the team we’re gonna put on the field next year.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      +1. Another Kool-Aid drinker. I’m there, too.

    • Dog in Fla

      Kool-Aid is okay boys but without a four-year starting QB and 3/5ths of a starting OL, friends don’t let friends drink spiked Flavor-Aid so back away from any fruity concoction “containing a cocktail of chemicals including [potassium] cyanide, diazepam (aka Valium — an anti-anxiety medication), promethazine (aka Phenergan — a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called “knockout drops”), and most interestingly…Flavor Aid — a grape-flavored beverage similar to Kool-Aid.”

      http://mentalfloss.com/article/13015/jonestown-massacre-terrifying-origin-drinking-kool-aid

      • uglydawg

        Was Cam a 4 year QB…or Marshall? I’ve gotta believe Bobo, AM, CMR and co. have done some fine grooming. He won’t be perfect…he won’t be Murray…but TG won’t be hurting, Marshall will be back and the recieving corps will be good…The way Georgia will be able to mix it up will give the O line a boost.
        …Try as you may…I’ve got coolaid spirted away all over the place and it’s going down good. Why not? It beats being grim.

        • Dog in Fla

          Doggone it, I’m not grim, I’m just having a harder time recovering from pre-season Happy Talk this year. More so than others. I believed the OL was going to kick some ass and sometimes it did but not always. I believed AM and Gurley were going to be even better and they were. I believed that Todd would coach up a better D even after losing beaucoup starters because 2013 was year before the last year of his contract. I believed we weren’t going to be wiped out by injuries. I still believe no tandem bar none recruits and coaches up pro-style QBs than do the Marks. But I never ever taste the Flavor-Aid just as a matter or principle no matter how much tasty hoof gelatin it contains.

          • Irwin R. Fletcher

            It’s an interesting point though…experienced QB doesn’t seem to be a pre-req.

            Nick Marshal, Jamies Winston, Cam Newton, McCarron, and McElroy are all pretty recent examples of QB’s in their first year starting taking a team to the championship game.

            • Atticus

              3 are freak athletes and the other 2 are coached by Saban. Doesn’t give me a lot of hope. Mason should be fine but the rest of he team has to improve, specifically special teams and defense and OL consistency.

              • Bob Sackamano

                OLine will be the key to how far we go, at least on that side of the ball.

              • Irwin R Fletcher

                Saban is a master QB coach. He’s coached up every one he’s had.

                Ok…I’m going to try to be respectful because we’re all dawg fans, right?

                Of the AP top 11…
                FSU, Auburn, MSU, Baylor and Oklahoma all have new starters at QB this season, right?
                Stanford’s starter had 5 starts last season.

                In 98, Tee Martin was a first year starter….so was Chris Weinke until he got knocked out against UVA (Marcus Outzen finished the year…again, no starting exp…i believe) Weinke had a pretty good coach.
                Vick was a frosh in 2000.
                I think Krenzel only had 2 starts prior to 2002.
                Mauck had only 6 starts prior to 2003.
                Boeckman replaced Troy Smith and led Ohio State to the championship game in 2008…

                I trust Richt/Bobo with QB’s and past examples show a QB in his first year starting can be very successful. I agree with the folks that are worried more about the Oline than Mason…but I reserve the right to change my mind based on the bowl game!

                • Atticus

                  I agree, the QBs coming out of high school are much better prepared than they were in the past and Mason has been there for years and has incredible talent at WR. The point some would make though is there is no way he exceeds Murray’s numbers and losing that production and leadership on an 8-4 team is a concern. But we’ll see. It will just have to be a different team. Same thing applies when you see these QBs going into the pros, it used to be that rookies hardly ever did anything now they come out of college and are lights out.

  7. Greg

    Vandy has to be giddy. They went 8-4 this season by just beating 1 team with a winning record(sigh) and they’ll be able to follow that same formula next season to get to around the same record.

    Can’t imagine Franklin staying around at Vandy past next season. His value won’t get any higher than it is now. When UT and UF get back on track, he’ll be fortunate to go .500, even with 7 or 8 home games.

    • Will (the other one)

      That’s assuming both do get back on track. For the hated Gators, it’ll happen, though they may have to wait until the post-BOOMMF era for it to happen. Too many talented recruits in the area, even if Miami joins FSU in becoming a perennial top 10 team, for the Gators to be a losing team often. Sadly.
      UT however, doesn’t have a hotbed of recruits, and also doesn’t even have much recent success. If Vandy wins their bowl game, they’ll easily be the most recently successful program in the state.

      • RocketDawg

        You heard it here first: Vanderbilt Commodores SEC East champions/SEC Champions/First CFB Playoff winners. James Franklin drops the mike and walks off stage into a $10 mil/yr job with the Dallas Cowboys. He promptly headbutts Jerry Jones putting him into a semi-vegetative state and assumes control over all football ops. His first act is to hire Grantham as DC (they hug it out on the 50 yard line of Jerry World before the first game) and proceed to win the next 7 Super Bowls in a row. Tony Romo throws for 6,000 and 60 TD’s and they all ride away on a unicorn after the last game.

        • Dog in Fla

          Because James Franklin will have a gusty Malzahnian season next year, expect the unexpected: he will name Beldar (because he has a hot wife, Prymaat) as a co-defensive coordinator with Todd.

        • uglydawg

          The NCAA will hold a special meeting and vote a new rule that JF gets to name permanent refs for all Vandy games. Georgia scores 24 first half touchdowns against Vandy and has them all called back for celebrating. Near the end of the game, Georgia goes ahead by a fieldgoal…a seventy yarder that barely clears the cross bar and CMR is seen to mouth “crap!” as the football sails on it’s way and is penalized and ejected. The camera records Penn Wagers walking away from the fray, stuffing the flag back into his pants, with a look of satisfaction spreading across his mug. When JF points out that it was a dead-ball foul and that the FG would stand if the refs didn’t “do something”, another flag is thrown…one of those famous late flags, and the Georgia holder is called for…holding. The FG is nullified and Georgia tries an eighty yard Hail Mary pass. A Georgia reciever catches it about the Vandy 40 and is running down the sideline for the winning score when JF trips him from the sideline. Time runs out and Vandy remains undefeated and wonderful.

        • Ausdawg85

          I…I think I love you man! Please promise this…pleeeeese?
          #AmericasTeam

  8. Governor Milledge

    One thing forgotten in this year’s Auburn Miracle is the fact they received back to back home games vs UGA in order for the SEC to balance out the schedule. The way our game played out, no doubt that home field played enough of a factor to swing the game in AU’s favor

  9. PTC DAWG

    Only second time in last 5-6 years that AU has NOT had 8 home games.

  10. Irwin R Fletcher

    3 of the 4 times UGA has had Clemson as its home opener, it won the SEC (2002, 1982, and 1968). TREND!

    • sUGArdaddy

      Irwin, you speak truth. Merry Christmas!

      • RocketDawg

        I used to bring this up to anyone who would listen at our tailgate this year. Historically if we open with a BCS opponent and WIN then we get to play in a BCS bowl (2002 Clemson, 2005 Boise St, 2007 Okie St) and two of those years were arguably the best team in the country at the end of the year. Unfortunately we have made a habit of losing those games recently (’09 Okie St, ’11 Boise St, ’13 Clemson) which doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the season.

  11. D.N. Nation

    It’s still pretty amazing that, given their easy SEC schedule, trash heap OOC schedule, Saint Saban, and TEH BEST QUARTERBACK EVAH, Alabama couldn’t manage the trip to Atlanta in 2013.

    • Dog in Fla

      Not only that, they only gave him a $2,000,000.00/season raise when it should have been even more embiggened.

  12. Griff

    So who is USCe’s every year cross division game? Did they drop Arkansas and pick up TAMU?