Ranking the SEC’s non-conference schedules


Over the last month, SDS ranked all 14 schedules for the upcoming 2013 season. We deciphered Alabama’s as the weakest, while Arkansas has the SEC’s toughest schedule.

The SEC makes national news usually for the teams they don’t play. Often times the media gives the SEC a bad rap with respect to out-of-conference opponents. But four championship contenders play the toughest non-conference schedules in 2013 – South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and LSU. Meanwhile, the remaining two teams of the big six – Alabama and Texas A&M – have weaker non-conference schedules.

1. South Carolina Gamecocks

OOC games: UNC (8/29), at UCF (9/28), Coastal Carolina (9/23), Clemson (11/30)
2012 opponent win/loss: 71.2 %
Skinny: USC plays three of the four games at home. UNC won eight games, UCF won 10 and Clemson won 11, making it the toughest overall non-conference haul in the SEC. Watch out for UCF on the road.

2. Florida Gators

OOC games: Toledo (8/31), at Miami (9/7), Georgia Southern (11/23), FSU (11/30)
2012 opponent win/loss: 71.7 %
Skinny: FSU won 12 games, Toledo won nine and Miami won seven, but the Gators travel to Miami week two and face Georgia Southern before FSU. Florida has the SEC’s second toughest non-conference schedule.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

OOC games: Clemson (8/31), North Texas (9/21), Appalachian State (11/9), Georgia Tech (11/30)
2012 opponent win/loss: 58.8 %
Skinny: Two ACC schools fall on UGA’s schedule this season in Clemson and Georgia Tech. North Texas is weak, and App State wasn’t great last season. Still, Clemson is one of the biggest games of the season, and it could turn out to be Georgia’s toughest game.

4. LSU Tigers

OOC games: TCU (8/31), UAB (9/7), Kent State (9/14), Furman (10/26)
2012 opponent win/loss: 48 %
Skinny: LSU loves playing tough non-conference games right out of the gate. That happens again this year with TCU, who could win the Big 12. UAB and Furman each won three games last year, while Kent State won 11.

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

OOC games: Oklahoma State (8/31), Alcorn State (9/7), Troy (9/21), Bowling Green (10/12)
2012 opponent win/loss: 51%
Skinny: MSU has a tough one right out of the gate against Oklahoma State in Houston, while Troy and Bowling Green could give the Bulldogs all they want and more.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks

OOC games: UL-Lafayette (8/31), Samford (9/7), Southern Miss (9/14), Rutgers (9/21)
2012 opponent win/loss: 51 %
Skinny: Louisiana-Lafayette and Rutgers both won nine games, and the Hogs travel to Rutgers. Samford won seven games, while Southern Miss went winless. All four games fall in the first four weeks.

7. Kentucky Wildcats

OOC games: Western Kentucky (8/31), Miami (OH) (9/7), Louisville (9/14), Alabama State (11/2)
2012 opponent win/loss: 59.2 %
Skinny: All four games could give Kentucky fits. Louisville is expected to improve on last year’s big season and return some guy named Teddy Bridgewater, while W. Kentucky, Miami and Alabama State should all be tougher than advertised.

8. Tennessee Volunteers

OOC games: Austin Peay (8/31), Western Kentucky (9/7), Oregon (9/14), South Alabama (9/28)
2012 opponent win/loss: 46 %
Skinny: Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama should be blowouts for the Vols, even with the current roster. Butch Jones will learn a lot about his Tennessee team against Oregon on the road. Will Oregon be the same without Chip Kelly? Outside of Oregon, the Vols’ non-conference schedule is a cakewalk. But facing a non-conference national championship contender gains the Vols some schedule respect.

9. Missouri Tigers

OOC games: Murray State (8/31), Toledo (9/7), Indiana (9/21), Arkansas State (9/28)
2012 opponent win/loss: 57.1 %
Skinny: Missouri needs to watch out for Arkansas State, who is coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, and Toledo will prove to be tougher, too. But Murray State and Indiana should both be wins, although a road date with the Hoosiers shouldn’t be taken lightly.

10. Texas A&M Aggies

OOC games: Rice (8/31), Sam Houston State (9/7), SMU (9/21), UTEP (11/2)
2012 opponent win/loss: 52.8 %
Skinny: UTEP was the only team of the four to finish under seven wins in 2012 with three. Rice, Sam Houston State and SMU won a combined 25 games in 2012, but all four shouldn’t be any problem for the Aggies’ electric spread offense.

11. Ole Miss Rebels

OOC games: SE Missouri St. (9/7), Texas (9/14), Idaho (10/26), Troy (11/16)
2012 opponent win/loss: 37.5 %
Skinny: The three of SE Missouri State, Idaho and Troy all finished with five or less wins, while Texas finished with nine wins. A road game in Austin would create a beautiful upset story for the Rebels.

12. Auburn Tigers

OOC games: Washington State (8/31), Arkansas State (9/7), Western Carolina (10/12), FAU (10/26)
2012 opponent win/loss: 35.4 %
Skinny: Washington State and Arkansas State will be tough games, while Western Carolina and FAU should both be wins. Several are already calling WSU an upset game, but I’m not buying it.

13. Alabama Crimson Tide

OOC games: Virginia Tech (8/31), Colorado State (9/21), Georgia State (10/5), Chattanooga (11/23)
2012 opponent win/loss: 38.3 %
Skinny: Only VT and Chattanooga finished with a winning record, while Colorado State and Georgia State combined for just five total wins. All four will be a sleep walk for the Tide, although VT theoretically has the athletes to compete with the Tide in hopes of ‘shocking the world’.

14. Vanderbilt Commodores

OOC games: Austin Peay (9/7), at UMass (9/21), UAB (9/28), Wake Forest (10/30)
2012 opponent win/loss: 23.4%
Skinny: The Commodores play the weakest non-conference schedule in 2013. Wake Forest won the most games of the four with five victories, while Austin Peay won two, UMass won one and UAB won three. Vandy goes 4-0 against non-conference opponents.

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Could be a rough start for SEC teams opening weekend. Especially the Dawgs…but don’t be surprised if TCU, Va tech, Toledo, WKY and WSU all have some success as well.

    • I can see WKY and WSU maybe having some success against UK and Auburn, respectively, but I’m not putting much stock in the perennial no-show VT against the Tide who always seem to destroy any OOC team opening weekend. And if Toledo gives UF a hard time or TCU give LSU any difficulty, it’ll be a long season for both teams, IMHO. But I don’t see that happening.

  • I really do hope Virginia Tech is better than what I’ve been hearing. From some accounts, it was hard to tell the difference between the 1st and 2nd string during their Spring game. The Hokies’ defense might keep the game close, but I think their offense will struggle greatly.

  • I think Western Kentucky, Washington State, and UL Lafayette have a chance to win their openers. But I would rather see Stoops, Malzahn, and Bielema start their SEC tenures on a positive note. We’ll find out about LSU early with their matchup against TCU. Mississippi State does better when they gain momentum early in the season, but it might be difficult this year opening up with Oklahoma State. Georgia has somewhat struggled in their past openers, and they really need a win over Clemson in order to stay on pace for a chance at a rewarding season.

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