The SEC's red-hot rivalries heading into 2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

My colleague at ESPN.com, Pat Forde, has come up with his red-hot rivalries from around the country heading into the 2009 season, and not surprisingly, four SEC matchups are among his top 10.

He has Florida vs. Tennessee No. 2, Florida vs. Georgia No. 3, Alabama vs. LSU No. 5 and Arkansas vs. Ole Miss No. 9.

In keeping with the SEC theme, here's my list of the hottest rivalries in this league as we point toward the 2009 season:

1. Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 19: Tennessee will probably go into the game as a three-touchdown (or more) underdog, but nothing will be able to touch this one in terms of the circus-like buildup. Urban Meyer revels in running up the score, and Lane Kiffin revels in running his mouth.

2. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 27: The Iron Bowl in any year under any circumstances remains one of the hottest rivalries going. Think the Auburn coaching staff might show up at Jordan-Hare Stadium in a stretch limo?

3. Florida vs. Georgia, Oct. 31: Two years ago, it was the infamous end zone dance by the Bulldogs. Last year, it was Meyer calling two timeouts in the final seconds to prolong the Bulldogs' misery. What can we expect this year?

4. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 7: As long as Nick Saban's at Alabama, this one's always going to be a bit testy. If you haven't noticed, most of the people on the Bayou aren't too fond of Saban these days.

5. Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 24: The Third (or Fourth) Saturday in October is one of those deep-woven rivalries that turned nasty off the field thanks to former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer's role in an NCAA investigation of the Crimson Tide. The latest twist is assistant Lance Thompson jumping ship from Alabama to Tennessee.

6. Arkansas at Ole Miss, Oct. 24: Don't mention Houston Nutt's name many places in the state of Arkansas. That whole divorce remains a messy one, and you know Nutt would love to put it on the Hogs this season in Oxford.

7. LSU at Ole Miss, Nov. 21: The Tigers are still stinging from the whipping the Rebels put on them a year ago. There might have been a time when this long-standing rivalry lost some of its luster, but not anymore.

8. Vanderbilt at South Carolina, Oct. 24: Is South Carolina ever going to beat Vanderbilt again? The Commodores and Bobby Johnson, a South Carolina native, have won two in a row over the Gamecocks. The Head Ball Coach might not be able to survive a third straight loss to Vanderbilt, especially at home.

9. Ole Miss at Mississippi State, Nov. 28: Dan Mullen gets his introduction to the Egg Bowl, and one of the reasons he does is because his predecessor at Mississippi State, Sylvester Croom, suffered a humiliating 45-0 defeat in this game a year ago, the most lopsided Egg Bowl in 37 years.

10. South Carolina at Tennessee, Oct. 31: In his heyday, Steve Spurrier was the master at getting in some digs at his biggest rivals. He has some competition now with Kiffin, who's rocked a few boats and hasn't backed down from anything in his first seven months on the job. Of course, one guy has six SEC titles, and the other has never coached an SEC game.