If there were ever a time in the schedule that pointed out the inconsistencies of nonconference opponents in the SEC, it might be Week 3.
If you’re Tennessee or Arkansas, you’re scratching your heads. While you travel to Oklahoma and Texas Tech while Alabama and LSU stay at home and play Southern Miss and Louisiana-Monroe, how’s that fair?
Yeah, there are some cupcakes to be had, but there are also some good games to be seen. It might be an uneven slate, but it’s still a compelling one -- if you’re not required to watch every game the SEC has to offer. And for the purposes of this post, we’re not.
In case you didn’t catch the first installment of this series, which will run every Monday until completion, it is intended to provide a rundown of the league’s action and give you our pick for the top matchups every week.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at Week 3:
Southern Miss at Alabama
Arkansas at Texas Tech
Kentucky at Florida
Georgia at South Carolina
Louisiana-Monroe at LSU
Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss
Mississippi State at South Alabama
UCF at Missouri
Tennessee at Oklahoma
Rice at Texas A&M
UMass at Vanderbilt
Tennessee-Oklahoma just has a ring to it. We’re talking two of the most historically significant programs in college football. You'd better believe this will be prime-time viewing, even if Tennessee is trying to work its way out of a slump.
Call me crazy, but this feels like a win-win for Butch Jones. Nobody expects his Vols to go to Norman, Okla., and beat the Sooners. Oklahoma is a preseason No. 1 in at least one poll and a top-10 team in many others. Tennessee just isn’t there yet, especially when you consider the fact it fails to return a single starter on either the offensive or defensive line.
That said, a trip to Big 12 country is a good move from a marketing perspective, getting the Vols on television sets in areas north and west of the SEC. Tennessee can puff out its chest for playing a meaningful nonconference game (on the road, no less!) while further extending its recruiting territory into Oklahoma. And boy, oh boy, have Jones and his staff been killing it on the recruiting trail.
Personally I’d like to make my first trip to Oklahoma to see what the big deal is all about. I’d like to hear "Boomer Sooner," the cannons shoot off from the end zone and watch as Sooner Schooner races around the field in a covered wagon pulled by ponies. So even if Oklahoma wins big, there’s still something to watch. If it turns out to be a close game or an upset, all the better.
This was an easy call for me. Matter of fact, if I were picking five games from the entire season in the SEC that I wanted to attend, Georgia-South Carolina would be in that group every year.
It’s a tone-setter in the Eastern Division race, and the game almost always seems to boil down to the fourth quarter. The only time it didn’t in the last seven years was 2012, when the Gamecocks clobbered (as Steve Spurrier would say) the Bulldogs 35-7 in Columbia. The game is back in Williams-Brice Stadium this season, and I’ve got to think the winner of this game will be the odds-on favorite to represent the East in the SEC championship game.
The Georgia game has always been personal, too, for the Head Ball Coach, going all the way back to his playing days with Florida. He revels in beating the Dawgs, who snapped a three-game losing streak in the series last year.
And if you like to watch big-time running backs play, Georgia’s Todd Gurley and South Carolina’s Mike Davis will be two of the best in the country next season. Davis is from Georgia and is still miffed that the Dawgs viewed him as more of a backup plan coming out of high school.
Yep, this one is a must-see game every year in the SEC, and to get in the mood, be sure you stop by one of the Cockabooses just outside the stadium and do a little tailgating.