Year 1 won't be easy for Freeze and the Ole Miss Rebels
SEC Schedule Winners and Losers
The SEC released its 2012 schedule today. Some teams came away very happy with their schedule and others were very upset. Here are the winners and losers with the 2012 schedule.
Georgia- The Dogs avoid the "Big 3" of the SEC West for the second straight year. Alabama should have rolled onto the schedule, but with expansion this didn't happen. If UGA can escape Columbia, SC with a victory and avoid a loss in an emotional game in Columbia, MO early in the year then the Dawgs could be playing for a shot at the National Championship in the SEC Championship Game.
Arkansas- The Hogs get both LSU and Alabama at home. They do have to play at A&M, but considering this has been the Hogs out of conference rival the last 3 years, this isn't much of a change. The only real change for the Hogs is instead of a road trip to Tennessee, they will play Kentucky at home. The biggest question for Arkansas is what happens to their game with A&M in Arlington, TX. Do they play A&M there in 2012(not likely) or do they play an out of conference game there against a big name opponent.
Auburn- Auburn gets Vanderbilt on its schedule in 2012 and even though the Dores beat AU in Nashville a few years ago, this is still a game AU should be favored in. Really, the only difficult road game in SEC play for Auburn is at Alabama.
Alabama- The Tide avoid playing the two teams likely to be the best in the SEC East(South Carolina and Georgia). Back to back road games at Mizzou and Tennessee could set up traps, but the Tide will be favored in both of those games. The biggest test will come when Bama travels to likely preseason #1 LSU on November 3
Mississippi State- Despite road trips to LSU and Bama, the Bulldogs actually come out nicely with this schedule. MSU draws probably the two weakest teams in the SEC East in Kentucky and Tennessee. Considering the Bulldogs also play a weak Ole Miss team, then MSU has a schedule favorable for a 3rd straight bowl trip
Texas A&M- The Aggies get Arkansas and LSU at home. Sure, Alabama is on the road, but you couldn't expect to get all of the SEC West's top teams at home in 2012. Both SEC East teams must travel to College Station and with the struggles Florida is having right now, an early season game against the Gators in College Station could be a big win in the Aggie's first SEC game.
Vanderbilt- The Dores get South Carolina in week 1 on a Thursday Night. This means the Dores have all season to prepare for the current 10-2 Gamecocks. They also draw Ole Miss and Auburn from the SEC West and avoid Bama, LSU, and Arkansas.
South Carolina- Did Steve Spurrier beat Mike Slive at golf and make fun of him at a Gamecock Club Meeting? The Gamecocks must open the season on the road at Vandy(last Thursday game with Dores resulted in a loss) and then in October they have a brutal 3 game stretch with Georgia and back to back road games against LSU and Florida. South Carolina swaps MSU for Missouri and the Tigers are likely slightly better than the Dogs in 2012.
Florida- Florida opens the conference season with back to back SEC road games. No one wants to be the first SEC opponent to visit rowdy College Station, but the Gators are the ones to get that honor. The home schedule isn't easy either with LSU and South Carolina visiting The Swamp
Ole Miss- Hugh Freeze's team gets hit the hardest by the 2012 schedule. The Rebels have road games against Georgia, LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas who were a combined 44-6 in 2011!!! That could be the most difficult road schedule in SEC History. Col Reb will not only be crying in 2012, he might be on suicide watch.
LSU- The Tigers are likely preseason favorites in 2012, but adding South Carolina and traveling to Little Rock in 2012 makes the schedule slightly harder for LSU than it was in 2011. LSU also must take a road trips to 3 of the rowdiest atmospheres in college football(Auburn, A&M, and Florida)
Tennessee- The Vols must travel to Columbia and Athens in 2012, likely the homes of the two top teams in the league next season. They also draw their traditional rival Alabama from the West. One good thing for the Vols though is that they avoid Arkansas, a team they would have played in 2012 if not for expansion
Not a Winner or a Loser
Kentucky- I don't really see much of a change with UK's schedule. Yeah, they drop LSU, but they add Arkansas. They also keep their series with Mississippi State. The two toughest SEC East teams, UGA and South Carolina are both home games for the Cats.
Missouri- Mizzou's schedule is well balanced. A&M is a team Missouri has done well against recently in Big XII play, so Tiger fans can't be unhappy with this game. Alabama does come on the schedule, but that game is in Columbia. The Tigers draw Georgia at home for their first ever SEC game, something that could play in their favor.