Prompted by yesterday’s “Bold Predictions” post and my observation that if nobody catches Tennessee before the first week of November, the Vols are likely headed to Atlanta, I thought I’d take a look at the calendar and see how the SEC East race might shape up in that regard.
Here’s the 2016 SEC football schedule. Assuming for the sake of argument that there are three contenders in the division – Florida, Georgia and Tennessee – my knee-jerk reaction to Urnge November is pretty accurate. First of all, Florida and Georgia both play only two conference games in November, so that limits their ability to play catch up if UT leads at that point.
Again, remember the Vols close out with their usual November gauntlet, in this case, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt, with only the last game being on the road. Florida has to go on the road for both of its November conference match ups, against Arkansas and South Carolina. Georgia splits its two, but one is against a big rival, Auburn. So the Dawgs and Gators have both quantity and quality working against them.
Tennessee does have that rough earlier stretch of five straight conference games, although the last of those is separated with a bye week, but if it can come out splitting the first four, particularly if those two wins come against Florida and Georgia, it’s hard to see how the race isn’t over, regardless of which team wins the Cocktail Party this year. Bottom line: in terms of playing in the SEC championship game, there are conference games Georgia can lose and survive, but beating Tennessee in Athens probably isn’t one of them.
Of course, if Vanderbilt rises up and shocks the nation, you can forget what I just wrote.