- Ranking SEC football strength of schedules
- SEC’s nastiest three-game stretches
- Five SEC revenge games
- SEC’s most important games for 2013
Successful seasons always hinge on important games throughout college football. All games are certainly important, but a few stand out from the rest, obvious or not.
Here are the SEC West teams’ most important games for 2013:
Game: at Texas A&M, week 3
Buzz: Alabama’s schedule sets up perfectly with bye weeks ahead of Texas A&M and LSU, and there’s not another game other than Virginia Tech that should scare anyone. But the most important game and the biggest threat to a three-peat, opponent-wise, is the Aggies and their spread-‘em-out offense. This is the biggest revenge game of 2013.
Game: at Rutgers, week 4
Buzz: This is Arkansas’ first big test. Yes, I know they play Louisiana-Lafayette in the first week, which could be a trap game, but the first big test will come against Rutgers on the road. The Hogs’ four non-conference games are stacked in the first four weeks, and they will need to beat the Scarlet Knights to help towards gaining a bowl berth. The schedule overall is nasty, and this is a winnable game. And it’s important the Razorbacks get a win against a top 30-caliber opponent in Rutgers, who put it on Arkansas at home in 2012.
Game: Mississippi State, week 3
Buzz: The most important game to start the Gus Malzahn era will come against Mississippi State. It will be a defining moment for the Tigers under their new coach in whether or not this team will compete and improve in ‘13. In fact, this game could help shape the future for both programs under Malzahn and Dan Mullen. To me, this is a no-brainer as the top game for the Tigers in ‘13.
Game: at Georgia, week 5
Buzz: I’m assuming LSU will be 4-0 by the time week five’s showdown with Georgia comes calling. These two teams haven’t met during the regular season since 2009, and there’s no way the Tigers can lose this game if they want to win the SEC West. While the Alabama-LSU game will be bigger in the public’s eye, depending on how the season plays out, the Georgia game is the most important.
Game: vs. Oklahoma State, week 1
Buzz: For Dan Mullen and Mississippi State moving forward, it’s all about perception and recruiting better players. In order to expand their footprint, a game against OSU in Houston exposes Texas prospects to MSU. And if Mullen wants to keep taking the Bulldogs to new heights, he has at least one stage to accomplish that. The Cowboys are a preseason top 15-caliber team, but Mullen is 2-16 against ranked opponents during his tenure. This is a huge game for multiple reasons.
Game: at Vanderbilt, week 1
Buzz: Some say Ole Miss is a darkhorse in the SEC West. Guilty as charged. But the contender talk turns quickly to pretender if the Rebels lose week one to Vanderbilt. We can talk about the recruiting class, and we can talk about how great of a job Hugh Freeze has done. But great coaches around the SEC have had some of their best seasons in year two. I can’t overstate how important this game is for both teams.
Game: Alabama, week 3
Buzz: Much like Alabama, Texas A&M’s schedule sets up perfectly with only two high-profile games against Bama and LSU. The entire college football world points to this game as the biggest game of the entire season. So, naturally, it’s the most important game for either team. Lose the week three showdown, and you likely won’t win the SEC West, the SEC Championship and the BCS Championship. But will this be the only time we see these two play this season? Conspiracy theorists abound.
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