Tyler Horka Mississippi Clarion Ledger
Published 10:56 AM EDT Jul 11, 2019
For nearly a decade, every SEC football season has started with a similar feeling.
Alabama is going to win the SEC West. There will be a team from the SEC East capable of contending with the Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship Game but that team – which will likely be Georgia once again – probably won’t get it done.
That’s just the most likely scenario. It doesn’t have to play out that way.
There are games between now and December that could change the course of the conference’s season. Here are some of those games, plus non-conference games that might have College Football Playoff implications.
10. Alabama at Texas A&M, Oct. 12
Texas A&M is 0-for-4 when trying to beat Alabama in College Station. The Aggies have never been able to pull it off at home, even when Johnny Manziel was taking snaps at Kyle Field.
A&M believes it finally has a coach who can guide the team to monumental victories. Jimbo Fisher knows how to win big games. He’s one of two head coaches in the conference who has won a national championship. If starting quarterback Kellen Mond makes a big leap as a junior, A&M could hang with the Crimson Tide at home.
9. Texas A&M at Clemson, Sept. 7
FILE – In this Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, left, and Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher talk before the start of an NCAA college football game, in College Station, Texas. An example of the SEC’s depth is No. 22 Texas A&M, which plays at No. 1 Alabama this week. The Aggies’ only loss was to No. 3 Clemson, 28-26. (AP Photo/Sam Craft, File)
The Associated Press
College football fans might get a feel for whether the Aggies’ game against Alabama will be tightly contested based on Week 2 of the season. That’s when Texas A&M has to take on the defending national champion.
Clemson showed how formidable of a program it has become when the Tigers trounced Alabama in the title game. The Tigers’ average margin of victory during its perfect 15-0 season was 31.1 points. Head coach Dabo Swinney’s team had its closest escape against none other than Fisher’s Fightin’ Aggies in a 28-26 thriller in Week 2. It’ll be interesting to see if Fisher’s team can keep it close on the road.
8. LSU at Mississippi State, Oct. 19
Oct 20, 2018; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead points during the second quarter against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of teams trying to find their place in the conference’s landscape, LSU and Mississippi State are two of them. Is LSU ready to truly compete with Alabama in the West? If so, a win over Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium would be a must.
But if the Bulldogs are able to emerge victorious, then could head coach Joe Moorhead’s team make a serious jump and flirt with being the SEC’s sleeper? MSU’s early schedule is somewhat generous, and it gets to face SEC West frontrunner Alabama at home on Nov. 16, too. A win over LSU would go a long way.
7. Auburn vs. Oregon (Dallas), Aug. 31
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn walks around during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill, AP
Who doesn’t like games between Power 5 opponents in the first weekend of the college football season?
Auburn had the task of playing eventual Pac 12 Champion Washington in Week 1 last year. This season, the Tigers play another Pac 12 stalwart to open up the season.
6. Florida vs. Miami (Orlando), Aug. 31
Florida and Miami are set to play against each other for the first time since 2013. The Hurricanes have won seven of the last eight meetings in the series, but this one feels like the Gators have an advantage given the way they played in 2018 compared to how the Canes fared.
5. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 30
Longtime Auburn University broadcaster Rob Bramblett speaks at an Auburn University alumni event in Dothan, Ala., May 1, 2019. Auburn’s baseball team is heading to the super regional trying to secure a berth in the College World Series while coping with off-field tragedies surrounding the Tigers. Longtime Auburn broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife, Paula, were killed in a car accident on May 25. Five days before the Brambletts’ deaths, Auburn police officer William Buechner _ a baseball season ticket holder _ was killed and two other officers wounded while reporting to a domestic disturbance. (Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics via AP)
The Associated Press
How fitting that the first Iron Bowl since the passing of Auburn broadcasting legend Rod Bramblett will be played at the site of Bramblett’s best call. It will undoubtedly be an emotional day at Jordan-Hare Stadium because of that, but every Iron Bowl is filled with energy and emotion. This one will be no different.
Gus Malzahn’s job security as Auburn’s head coach could be under the microscope once this game rolls around, and Alabama will inevitably be playing to reach the SEC Championship Game. As always, there will be a lot to play for in Alabama two days after Thanksgiving.
4. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron talks to his team during a timeout in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Alabama won 29-0. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
The Associated Press
Last year’s meeting between LSU and Alabama was a top-five matchup. The No. 1 Crimson Tide versus the No. 4 Tigers. The game that was supposed to be the best of the year was an absolute dud. Bama rolled, 29-0.
There’s no way LSU falls that flat again, right? Right?!
Well, there is a way. Alabama has won the last eight games in the series. There is a chance this could be another top-five game with national implications galore, and LSU would love to end its losing streak. If that happens, it will likely be looked back on as the most meaningful game of the SEC season.
3. Georgia vs. Florida, Nov. 2
Florida head football coach Dan Mullen before the game. Mississippi State and Florida played in an SEC college football game on Saturday, September 29, 2018, in Starkville. Photo by Keith Warren/Madatory Photo Credit
Keith Warren/For Clarion Ledger
College football in the South is more fun when this annual game in Jacksonville has a lot to do with which team will represent the SEC East in the conference title game. Last year, that was the case. Whichever team won was in the driver’s seat to win the division.
Georgia blew out Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators, 36-17, continuing the trend of not having a one-possession game in this series since 2013. This year seems like the time to change that. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs are national title contenders again, and Mullen’s Gators are trying to inch up to the same level.
2. Notre Dame at Georgia, Sept. 21
Jul 11, 2017; Hoover, AL, USA; Georgia head coach Kirby Smart speaks to the media at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Winfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Getz, Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
This is a game between a team that made the College Football Playoff last year and a team that was a botched fake punt attempt away from possibly doing the same. Notre Dame was outclassed by Clemson in the CFP, but Alabama was too. The Irish don’t plan on taking any steps backward, and obviously Georgia doesn’t either.
This isn’t a game between two SEC teams, but it is one that could impact whether a team other than Alabama has a chance to make it to the CFP.
1. LSU at Texas, Sept. 7
Sam Ehlinger celebrates during Texas’ win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Chuck Cook, USA TODAY Sports
The Longhorns made Georgia look ill-prepared and lackluster in the Sugar Bowl. While LSU isn’t a team fans of opposing SEC schools routinely root for, SEC supporters certainly don’t want to see Texas — a program that hasn’t contended for a Big 12 title, let alone a national title, for the better part of the last decade — beat one of the SEC’s best teams twice in a row.
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will be rocking in Week 2, and college football fans from coast to coast will be tuned in to see if Texas is truly back or if LSU is a true challenger to Alabama in the SEC West in 2019. Like Notre Dame at Georgia, this game might have CFP implications.
More: These players will represent their schools at 2019 SEC Media Days
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Published 10:56 AM EDT Jul 11, 2019
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