Published June 11, 2012 - 11:00am
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Let’s continue looking at the month of October and the biggest games during the second month of football. We’ve taken a brief look at the toughest schedules in the SEC during October, and the biggest games of September.
Now, let’s take a look at the 10 biggest games of October.
1. Oct. 6: LSU at Florida
As much as Les Miles and LSU want to get rid of this game, it’s great for the SEC. Florida hosting LSU – it doesn’t get much bigger than that, and it will be in one of the best venues in the SEC. Some have favored Florida to win the East, and LSU has been favored by most to win the West and be a consensus national championship contender. But anything can happen in The Swamp when two top defenses clash with playmakers on the field. Florida has not dropped three straight to LSU since ’78 to ’80 and are on the verge of doing so. I’m not saying it won’t or it will happen, but the odds have to be in Florida’s favor here. LSU will be the better team, but the better team doesn’t always win. The last time LSU came to Gainesville, they had to run a fake 53-yard a field goal with 35 seconds remaining, a play that saw the holder throw the ball over his head, take a bounce and right into the kicker’s arms for a first down. The rest was history.
Florida will try its best to get back at the Tigers after the beating they took last year in Baton Rouge.
2. Oct. 27: Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, FL)
The East could quite possibly come down to the winner of this football game. The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will once again see two top SEC teams going head-to-head. Get this: the last time Florida dropped back-to-back games to the Bulldogs was 1988 and 1989. While Georgia will enter as the favorite, Florida has history on their side, along with a very respectable top-tier defense. Georgia pulled out the victory last year, as Aaron Murray threw two gutsy fourth down passes for touchdowns in the win. Florida had won three straight up until that point. Urban Meyer proved to be Mark Richt’s nemesis, but Richt could have Will Muschamp’s number moving forward. We’ll see how it plays out.
3. Oct. 13: South Carolina at LSU
South Carolina has been putrid during its history against LSU, but this isn’t your daddy’s Gamecocks. Armed with a mobile QB and a dangerous RB, SC packs a more potent punch than most can remember. The Gamecocks are only a mere 2-16-1 in this series, with four straight losses by 17 points per game. LSU is hosting this one, so the venue will be very tough for the Gamecocks to overcome. LSU knows if you stop Marcus Lattimore and SC’s rushing attack, there is a very good chance you win the football game. This will be a very important game for both clubs, an neither can afford to leave with a loss.
4. Oct. 6: Georgia at South Carolina
This game is always a must-see in the SEC. Only this year, we have to wait until week six to see the showdown. The loser of Georgia-South Carolina had never made it to the SEC Championship until last year. SC beat the Bulldogs in their house last season, in a game that saw nine lead changes, but Georgia got the last laugh and eventually won the East. I’m not sure if this game has more emphasis on it since the schedule chance, or if there would have been more emphasis in week two. Either way, part of the East championship will run right through this game. Georgia has never lost three straight to the Gamecocks but have lost the previous two.
5. Oct. 20: South Carolina at Florida
South Carolina at Florida will always be a special game because of Steve Spurrier’s deep history with the Gators, having been both a former player and head coach in Gainesville. Spurrier and SC got their first win in Gainesville two years ago (1-12), a game that saw a freshman Marcus Lattimore chew the Gators up in the ground pound. I expect another low-scoring defensive game in this one, much like last year. Connor Shaw and his mobility gave Florida all kinds of fits last year.
6. Oct. 20: Alabama at Tennessee
Dubbed the Third Saturday in October for a reason, this historical clash has been anything but a rivalry recently. The Tide have dominated this series, winning the last five matchups dating back to 2007. However, the talent level at Tennessee has picked up and Derek Dooley is fielding his best football team to date. This is a classic matchup with a great offensive team in Tennessee against a typical Nick Saban-minded defense. Dooley is a Saban disciple, and he is in fact in Saban’s coaching tree, having coached under him while at LSU.
7. Oct. 6: Arkansas at Auburn
This football game is always fun to watch. Arkansas is a very experienced team, and Auburn has returning starters on both side of the ball all over the field. The visitor in this particular series has dropped three straight, and Arkansas is on the road this year. Auburn’s 11-game SEC winning streak was snapped last season in a loss to the Hogs. The last time at Jordan-Hare, Arkansas imploded, allowing 28 unanswered points to some QB named Cam Newton. This will be a better game than most people think.
8. Oct. 13: Tennessee at Miss St.
Okay. This isn’t a sexy SEC rivalry and may not peak your interest, but it will prove to be very crucial for both teams. In a game that both teams will view as “winnable” or a “must-win”, neither team is more talented than the other. Tennessee has more star power, but overall, the Vols are just not much better of a football team right now. State has lost six straight to Tennessee by an average margin of 40-15. But Dan Mullen has not been a part of any of these games, and the Bulldogs are coming off back-to-back bowl game wins since ’99 and ’00. Both teams would pencil this game as a “win” on a preseason glance at the schedule.
9. Oct. 27: Tennessee at South Carolina
Tennessee hates Steve Spurrier; Spurrier hates Tennessee. But the respect level is mutual because both have done battle with each other for many years in this great league. Spurrier is 13-8 all-time against Tennessee at both Florida and South Carolina, winning the last three out of four with the Gamecocks. SC, on the other hand, is a mere 6-22-2 all-time against Tennessee. However, both teams are clearly not what they once were. Both teams view this game as winnable, and it will be a must win by the time the last week in October rolls around.
10. Oct. 27: Texas A&M at Auburn
This game is not a huge marquee SEC game, but it will be very important for both teams. In week nine, both TAMU and AU will have four or more SEC games under their belt. Both teams are in a race to avoid finishing in the bottom half of the West. Each team will be giving the other its best shot to end the month of October on a high note. This game has no tradition or rivalry, as they have only ever played two times in history. Texas A&M, though, is 2-0 against the Tigers. Auburn will be going for their first win against the Aggies, and what better place to get that done than in Jordan-Hare Stadium.