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SEC West’s most important games for 2013

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Schedule analysis:

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:

Alabama

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.

Arkansas

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.

Auburn

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.

LSU

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.

Mississippi State

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.

Ole Miss

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.

Texas A&M

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.

Photo Credit John Reed-USA TODAY Sports





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Comments 4

  1. It’ll be interesting to see what Alabama’s running game looks like this season. Obviously, Yeldon is expected to carry the load, but he’ll be assisted by mainly Jalston Fowler and Derrick Henry. By all accounts, Henry has an incredible work ethic, and hits the weight room hard. Fowler is also a hard worker and has the most experience out of all the Bama backs. But what is the most interesting, and maybe the most overlooked, is that both of these backs weigh over 240 lbs. Alabama may have an explosive cast of WR’s, but the running game might be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Especially in the 4th quarter. The knock on Henry is that he’ll struggle with SEC defenses, and maybe the critics are write. But if Burton Burns feels that Henry is ready, then folks better watch out.

  2. Alabama’s biggest game will be Ole Miss not LSU or Texas A&M. Alabama will play hard and beat Lsu and Texas A&M but Ole Miss is the trap game. Ole wants nothing more than to beat the Crimson Tide. I am sure Coach Saban is fully aware of this!

    • Ole Miss is definitely team that Bama doesn’t want to overlook. Ole Miss has struggled to establish a solid rushing attack against the Tide in the past few meetings, and that maybe their Achilles Heel in the matchup this year. I think Ole Miss differs from the rest of the “middle of the pack” teams in the SEC because they have more talent to match up with the conference juggernauts. With that being said, Alabama will not take them lightly. Bo Wallace will have to play mistake-free in order to keep the Rebs in the game. And that’s a tough defense to play mistake-free against.