With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, I think we’ll start to see even more marquee nonconference matchups.
Coaches might not like the idea, but fans will.
There’s nothing worse than the national race heating up in November and having to sit through a 50-point rout against some FCS team that has absolutely no chance.
The tricky part for SEC schools is whether or not the league will go to nine conference games down the road. It’s going to be discussed this month at the spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and my sense is that it’s going to happen … just not in the next couple of years.
We’re already seeing several schools in the SEC lining up high-profile nonconference games.
Arkansas and TCU will meet in a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017. The Hogs have also had discussions about playing Texas Tech beginning next year, and are scheduled to play Michigan in a home-and-home series in 2018 and 2019.
LSU is in conversations with Wisconsin about facing the Badgers in Houston’s Reliant Stadium to open the 2014 season.
The neutral-site games will continue to be popular among SEC schools. It counts as a win away from home, and beating top teams away from home will undoubtedly carry significant weight with the selection committee.
This coming season will be the fifth time under Nick Saban that Alabama has played a high-profile nonconference game at a neutral site. The Crimson Tide will open the season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. They will also open the 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against West Virginia. And in 2015, Alabama will open the season against Wisconsin in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Below is a look at some of the other attractive nonconference matchups involving SEC teams coming up over the next several years (not counting annual matchups such as Florida vs. Florida State or South Carolina vs. Clemson). Obviously, this is subject to change:
Georgia at Clemson
LSU vs. TCU (Arlington, Texas)
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (Houston)
Ole Miss at Texas
Tennessee at Oregon
Florida at Miami
North Carolina at South Carolina
Ole Miss vs. Boise State (Atlanta)
Clemson at Georgia
Auburn at Kansas State
Tennessee at Oklahoma
South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Charlotte)
Oklahoma at Tennessee
Arizona State at LSU
Texas A&M vs. USC
Tennessee at Nebraska
Texas A&M vs. USC
Michigan State at Alabama
Nebraska at Tennessee
Georgia Tech at Ole Miss
Alabama at Michigan State
LSU at Oklahoma
Texas A&M at Oregon
Ole Miss at Georgia Tech
Oklahoma at LSU
Oregon at Texas A&M