The SEC's toughest three-game stretches

The grind of the SEC is one of the things that separates it from other conferences.

One grueling three-game stretch can easily turn a once promising season into a forgettable one.

With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the toughest, three continuous game stretches in the SEC in 2012. There can’t be a bye week mixed in between games. Here are the top five.

1. Mississippi State -- Oct. 27: Alabama on the road. Nov. 3: Texas A&M at home. Nov 10: LSU on the road.

  • Mississippi State’s first seven games look inviting enough that some in Starkville are wondering if it’s realistic for the Bulldogs to be 6-1 or even 7-0 coming out of that stretch. Either way, they’re going to have their hands full heading into the final portion of the schedule. Any time you have to go on the road to face Alabama and LSU in a span of three weeks, it qualifies as a brutal stretch.

2. Arkansas -- Nov. 10: South Carolina on the road. Nov. 17: Mississippi State on the road. Nov. 23: LSU at home.

  • There were a handful of three-game stretches that warranted consideration for the No. 2 spot on this list. The Hogs won out based on the short week heading into the LSU game. That game will be played on a Friday in Fayetteville after back-to-back road trips to South Carolina and Mississippi State.

3. South Carolina -- Oct. 6: Georgia at home. Oct. 13: LSU on the road. Oct. 20: Florida on the road.

  • The month of October will either make or break South Carolina’s season. The Gamecocks kick off their pivotal stretch with a home game against Georgia, and then comes road trips to LSU and Florida the next two weeks. That’s three games in three weeks against teams that will open the season ranked nationally in the coaches poll.

4. Texas A&M -- Oct. 27: Auburn on the road. Nov. 3: Mississippi State on the road. Nov. 10: Alabama on the road.

  • Texas A&M is the only school in the SEC this season that has to play three straight SEC road games in successive weeks. Playing away from home two weeks in a row in the SEC is daunting enough, but playing in an opposing SEC stadium for three straight weeks is downright brutal.

5. Tennessee -- Oct. 13: Mississippi State on the road. Oct. 20: Alabama at home. Oct. 27: South Carolina on the road.

  • The month of October hasn’t been kind to Derek Dooley and the Vols. In fact, they’re 0-8 against SEC foes in October since Dooley’s arrival. This season, that October stretch starts with a trip to Mississippi State. Then it’s back home to take on Alabama followed by another road trip to South Carolina. The Vols are determined to end their 0-for-October drought, but it won’t be easy.