With school starting and the unofficial summer deadline looming, southerners are ready for some football so here is a look at the top 15 SEC games this season.
As always, thanks to GridIronNow for the preview. Make sure you check this site daily for updates on your favorite SEC teams and players.
15. AUBURN AT ALABAMA
Date: November 26
The skinny: It’s the “Iron Bowl” and it’s kind of a big deal. On paper three months out, though, this season’s game doesn’t look all that enticing. What that means, of course, is that this will be end up being some kind of epic showdown. The Tide has won six of the past eight in the nasty, nasty series. (Actually, make that nasty, nasty, nasty series.) The losses came via the “Kick Six” in 2013 and in Cam Newton’s Heisman season in 2010. Both times, Auburn used the win to propel itself into the national title game.
14. OLE MISS AT TEXAS A&M
Date: November 12
The skinny: If any team other than Alabama or LSU is going to win the SEC West, it seems likely it would be one of these two squads. Will either be alive in the division race, or will both (or one) be out of it? Ole Miss has won easily in each of the past two seasons; the Rebels won 23-3 last season and 35-20 in ’14 after building a 35-7 lead.
13. LSU AT ARKANSAS
Date: November 12
The skinny: LSU will have played Alabama the week before, so the Tigers’ mindset is going to be the key. In each of the past two seasons, the Tigers have lost to the Tide, then lost again the next week to Arkansas (the Hogs have won by a combined 48-14). Conversely, if the Tigers are coming in off a win, they certainly can’t afford a letdown.
12. LSU AT TEXAS A&M
Date: November 24
The skinny: This is a Thanksgiving night game (and, no, don’t anyone try to sell this as better than Texas-Texas A&M on Thanksgiving). Last season’s A&M-LSU contest had a coach’s job on the line. Hmmm – could it be that way again?
11. ALABAMA AT ARKANSAS
Date: October 8
The skinny: The Tide has won nine in a row in the series, but Alabama has had to sweat it out in each of the past two. The Tide won 14-13 in 2014, then 27-14 last season. But Alabama didn’t ice the game last season until there was 2:44 left. This is the first game in a tough three-game stretch for the Tide that also includes a visit to Tennessee and a home game against Texas A&M.
10. GEORGIA AT OLE MISS
Date: September 24
The skinny: A big early-season game for both. This comes a week after Ole Miss plays host to Alabama and three weeks after the Rebels open with Florida State, so when this one ends, we should have a good idea as to how the Rebels’ season is going to end up. Georgia, meanwhile, plays host to Tennessee the next week, so it’s not a stretch to think that those two games could determine how the Bulldogs’ season is going to go.
9. LSU AT FLORIDA
Date: October 8
The skinny: LSU has won three in a row and five of the past six in the series; it’s the Tigers’ most successful run vs. the Gators since they won five of six from 1977-82. LSU won in its most recent trip to Gainesville, but hasn’t won on consecutive trips to Gainesville in this annual series since 1980 and ’82. Each of the past four games has been decided in the fourth quarter.
8. TENNESSEE AT TEXAS A&M
Date: October 8:
The skinny: Can you say “trap game”? We know you can, Vols fans. Tennessee heads to College Station a week after playing at Georgia and a week before playing host to Alabama. There are numerous folks who think the Aggies could be the surprise team in the West; thus, it wouldn’t be that big a surprise if they went into this one 5-0. This will be the first meeting between the schools as SEC members; the only two previous meetings – both UT wins – came in bowls (the Gator following the 1957 season and the Cotton following the 2004 season).
7. FLORIDA VS. GEORGIA IN JACKSONVILLE
Date: October 29
The skinny: The booze definitely flows at “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” For most of the past three decades, it’s been in celebration for Gators fans and in commiseration for Bulldogs fans: Florida has won 21 of the past 27 in the series, including surprisingly one-sided wins in each of the past two seasons. Each has one tough crossover foe and one easy division opponent after this one, so if the SEC East race still is up for grabs, chances are the winner of this has a great shot at the crown.
6. OLE MISS AT LSU
Date: October 22
The skinny: This could be vital for both teams’ title hopes. Then again, given the relative lateness of the game, both – or one – could be out of it. Ole Miss beat the Tigers last season and has taken two of the past three in the series. But LSU had won nine of the previous 11. The Tigers welcome in the Rebels in this one, then have a bye week before Alabama comes to town.
5. TENNESSEE AT GEORGIA
Date: October 1
The skinny: The second of two huge back-to-back games for Butch Jones and the Vols, who play host to Florida the week before. It’s also the second big game in a row for the Bulldogs, who play at Ole Miss on September 24. Expectations are that the Big Orange go 2-0 against their biggest SEC East rivals. Going 1-1 or – don’t even speak of this in Knoxville – 0-2 won’t be looked upon kindly by those residing in Vol Nation. Tennessee rallied to beat the Bulldogs last season, snapping Georgia’s five-game winning streak in the series. The winning team has scored at least 34 points in six of the past seven meetings and eight of the past 10.
4. ALABAMA AT OLE MISS
Date: September 17
The skinny: Ole Miss famously has won two in a row over the Tide; the last time the Rebels beat Alabama in three consecutive seasons was … never. Heck, before last season, the Rebels never had beaten the Tide two years in a row. This is the first of two big back-to-back games for Ole Miss, which plays host to Georgia on September 24. This will be the 61st meeting in the series, but just the 12th played in Oxford.
3. FLORIDA AT TENNESSEE
Date: September 24
The skinny: A monstrous game for the Vols; indeed, this game could shape their whole season. The Gators own the Vols – absolutely own them. UF has won 11 in a row in the series (yep, the Gators went 4-0 vs. the Vols under Will Muschamp); the Gators also have won 19 of the past 24 in the series overall and eight of the past nine played at Neyland. If the Vols don’t get the Gators this season …
2. ALABAMA AT TENNESSEE
Date: October 15
The skinny: Alabama has won nine in a row in the series and only two of those matchups have been decided by fewer than 14 points; six have come by more than 20. But one of the close games was last season, when the Tide had to rally late to win 19-14 in Tuscaloosa. Both teams will be coming in off what should be tough road tests – Alabama against Arkansas and the Vols against Texas A&M. And this is the last tough regular-season game of the season, period, for the Vols. But it’s also the final game of a grueling four-games-in-four-week stretch that also includes matchups against Florida, Georgia and A&M. If the Vols are unbeaten at game time, this will be the most eagerly anticipated game in two decades in Knoxville. And if the Vols were to win to remain unbeaten … oh, my, the city may not survive the bacchanal that would follow.
1. ALABAMA AT LSU
Date: November 5
The skinny: Chance are, the winner will be the SEC West champ – and being the SEC West champ of late has meant being the best team in the SEC as a whole. And being the best team in the SEC as a whole, of course, means having a chance to play for the national title. The Tide has won five in a row in the series; LSU has averaged just 13 points per game in the losses. And in the past three setbacks, the Tigers have averaged just 208 yards. In case you’re wondering, the Tide’s longest win streak in the series is 11 (1971-81).