October is the meat of any college football schedule. The hype to start the season is over, and teams hit the gauntlet of their in-conference schedule where it’s survival of the deepest. October also presents nasty schedules, and none are more brutal than Missouri’s crazy four-game stretch.
Of course, we’ll all watch every single minute of SEC football action, but these five games stand out entering 2013:
1. Oct. 12: Florida at LSU
Usually October’s most physical SEC game comes in the form of Florida and LSU. Last year’s 14-6 defensive grudge match was arguably the most physical game of the entire season. The hungry Gators travel to Death Valley, which always creates an interesting storyline in itself. The last time Will Muschamp’s club traveled to Baton Rouge, they left physically abused and embarrassed 41-11. To win their respective divisions, this game is a must-win for both teams, even if Les Miles wants to get rid of Florida every year.
2. Oct. 12: Texas A&M at Ole Miss
This game features the battle of the high-octane, spread-‘em-out offenses from Hugh Freeze and Kevin Sumlin. Remember, this game had a spectacular finish in 2012, and it almost became the Rebels’ biggest upset of the season. Luckily Johnny Manziel did Johnny Football things in the fourth quarter and delivered the win. This is a darkhorse game for the magnitude of the conference. Of course, the SEC West hinges on the big three of TAMU, Alabama and LSU, but if Ole Miss could win a few they aren’t supposed to, they could move into a darkhorse third or even second place role in the West.
3. Oct. 5: Ole Miss at Auburn
Ole Miss-Auburn presents an interesting matchup between two up-and-coming coaches who both coached at Arkansas State prior to signing up for the SEC. Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn are considered as offensive innovators with high-flying, fast-paced offenses. I’m not sure how much SEC West implications this game will have, but watching this one in early October will kick off the month right. The new wave of college football offenses is here: speed ‘em up and spread ‘em out.
4. Oct. 19: Georgia at Vanderbilt
You can say whatever you want about this game, but it presents an interesting challenge for Georgia on the road. If you are quick to forget, Vandy almost upset the Dawgs two years ago, and James Franklin and Todd Grantham almost had a throw-down after the game. Wasn’t it beautiful? Anyway, in order for Vandy to take the next step and become elite, they have to beat a ranked team. UGA is the only ranked team that visits Nashville in 2013.
5. Oct. 26: Tennessee at Alabama
I’m a traditionalist. I get all caught up in the pageantry and the history of rivalries. If you’re looking for a close game, you may not find it here. But the Butch Jones era gets its first taste of playing Alabama yearly. The Third Saturday (this year’s fourth) in October shows a Crimson Tide edge of 49-38-7.
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