Published June 7, 2012 - 11:00am
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Let’s continue looking at the month of September as it pertains to SEC football. We’ve already looked at the five toughest schedules of September. There’s some massive out-of-conference battles, as well as inter-conference warfare during the first month.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to watch all the games, as most of you will, too. But I’ll pay particular attention to the 10 below:
1. Sept. 15: Alabama at Arkansas
This is the biggest game in the month of September in the SEC. Here’s the defending national champion Alabama traveling to Fayettenam to take on the high-octane Razorbacks. Alabama is a favorite in the West, along with LSU, with Arkansas being more of the dark horse. It comes down to Alabama’s defense and Arkansas’ offense. Alabama should be a top-five team in the country, even though the NFL Draft wiped them out at several key positions. Arkansas is a sure-fire top-15 team with a senior quarterback and a dynamic running back looking to wreck Alabama’s repeat hopes. This game has both SEC and national title implications. Alabama has won five straight, and the last time they played in Fayetteville, the Tide were down 20-7 mid third quarter before they scored 17 unanswered points.
2. Sept. 1: Alabama vs. Michigan (Arlington, TX)
Everyone in the Big Ten and SEC has this game circled. Starting the season off right with the first Saturday in football and you have two top tier teams in their respective conferences doing battle at Jerry World, not to mention an early Big Ten-SEC matchup. Conference pride is on the line. And while this isn’t as sexy a matchup as LSU-Oregon last year, Michigan will be a very formidable and improved opponent for the Tide. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Nick Saban have had their off-season war of words, and each will be looking to back it up. Since 1999, the national champion from the year before is 13-0 with an average margin of victory at 45-13 in the following year season opener. Alabama will look to continue those crazy numbers.
3. Sept. 15: Florida at Tennessee
I’ll admit it; the Third Saturday In September is not as sexy as it once was back in the 90’s. Nonetheless, it still helps to shape how the East plays out. Both clubs are down, and both have something to prove. Third-year coach Derek Dooley is feeling the heat in Knoxville. Florida has beaten Tennessee seven straight times, and Tennessee fans are tired of it. Florida, meanwhile, is rebuilding under Will Muschamp, and Tennessee catches Florida at a good time early in the year. Breaking in a new QB in the SEC is a tough task, and Florida will be doing just that. Florida’s defense against Tennessee’s high-powered PlayStation-like offense will be a matchup no one will want to miss. The team with the most rushing yards usually wins this football game, and that should not change this year, either.
4. Sept. 22: LSU at Auburn
LSU on the road at Jordan-Hare Stadium always turns out to be a clash. LSU, the favorite, will be heading into enemy territory, taking on a rebuilding Auburn team with a year of growth under their belt. This game has always had some thrillers and usually turns out to be a good game. The home team, however, is 11-1 in their last 12 games. That is a great looking statistic if you’re an Auburn fan. It’s going to take Auburn’s best game to beat the Bayou Bengals.
5. Sept. 1: Auburn vs. Clemson (Atlanta, GA)
Auburn-Clemson had been a very lopsided series until Clemson finally got one last year. Clemson is an ACC favorite with a ton of talent, and Auburn is young but has talent, too. The biggest talent of both teams in Clemson WR Sammy Watkins will not be playing in this one, so some luster has been removed from this game. Nonetheless, Auburn will have their hands full with a fast and talented Clemson offense. The Chick-fil-A Kickoff will get this year started off right. Auburn leads this series 34-12-2 and had won the last 14 games dating back to 1952 until last year’s loss.
6. Sept. 29: Arkansas at Texas A&M
I like this game more now that both teams will play on campus for the next couple of years, with both obviously in the same conference again. This year, as it turns out, the Hogs travel to College Station. The Aggies have a new coach and are touting a new era of SEC football. Arkansas has dominated this series and have a 41-23-4 overall lead. But this year there is SEC fate on the line, not just pride, and TAMU has won the last two conference games dating back to ’90 and ’91 in the SWC. The West just got a little more interesting.
7. Sept. 8: Auburn at Miss St
I always look forward to this game in week two. Don’t ask me why. Auburn has won the last 10 of 11 meetings, including the last five in Starkville and the last two at Davis Wade Stadium, by a total margin of four points. The season will still be very young in week two, and both teams will be more or less finding themselves. State could be favored, only because they are playing at home. This will be each team’s first SEC matchup.
8. Sept. 8: Florida at Texas A&M
Week two will feature Florida and Texas A&M’s first SEC game of the season. Likewise, this will be TAMU’s first-ever SEC football game. The only other time these two teams met was during the regular season back in ’62 when the Aggies lost 42-6 in Gainesville. The Aggies are all pumped about a fresh conference, and I am, too. There has been an off-season child-like bickering between Will Muschamp and Kevin Sumlin that even got College Station’s mayor to respond. Florida wants to rub mud in the Aggies’ eyes, while TAMU wants to announce their arrival with an upset.
9. Sept. 8: Georgia at Missouri
Missouri hosts their inaugural SEC game against SEC East favorite Georgia. This game will only be interesting if Mizzou’s QB James Franklin is healthy and ready to go. Georgia will bring one of the nation’s premier defenses into Columbia and try and leave the Tigers licking their wounds. Georgia wants to introduce Mizzou to what life is like in the SEC week-in and week-out. If you’re in Columbia for this one, be sure and check out the Tigers’ block party.
10. Sept. 15: Texas at Ole Miss
The only reason this game is interesting is because Texas is playing an SEC team. There’s a huge talent gap between Texas and the Rebs on the field, but Ole Miss will win the off-the-field festivities that take before the game in The Grove. If Ole Miss could somehow find a way to win this game…okay, I’ll sober up. The Rebs don’t have much of a chance, but as they say, that’s why the game is played on the field and not on paper. Here’s to hoping Ole Miss finds a way, but the Rebs are 0-6 against other BCS schools since ’98.
How would you rank the top 10 games in September?