SEC football is officially just 80 days away from consuming your lives. Eighty days from the SEC Network being played non-stop. It’s going to be awesome.
Over the last month, SDS has been breaking down and ranking the 2014 SEC football schedules. You can view all the schedule rankings below, as well as a breakdown for each and every team’s strength of schedule:
How the NCAA ranks the SEC’s 2014 strength of schedule
#1: Tennessee strength of schedule
#2: Arkansas strength of schedule
#3: Florida strength of schedule
#4: Auburn strength of schedule
#5: Kentucky strength of schedule
#6: South Carolina strength of schedule
#7: Georgia strength of schedule
#8: LSU strength of schedule
#9: Texas A&M strength of schedule
#10: Ole Miss strength of schedule
#11: Mississippi State strength of schedule
#12: Alabama strength of schedule
#13: Missouri strength of schedule
#14: Vanderbilt strength of schedule
A few observations:
- Three or four different levels exist in the SEC’s schedule ranking. Eleven through 14 is one tier, and five through 10 is the second one. One through three is the toughest tier, meaning you can justify Tennessee, Arkansas or Florida as having the ‘toughest’ schedule. It’s based on perception and based on projections of the upcoming season.
- Tennessee has the SEC’s toughest non-conference schedule with Utah State, Arkansas State, Oklahoma and Chattanooga. We project Tennessee to have the conference’s toughest schedule, and after missing on three straight bowl games, Tennessee’s 2014 strength of schedule isn’t exactly welcoming.
- The NCAA says Arkansas has the SEC’s toughest schedule based on the Hogs’ opponents winning .656 of their games last season. Tennessee is right behind them with opponents winning .652 percent of their games.
- Of the top six projected contenders in 2014 (media consensus) – Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina, Alabama has the most favorable schedule out of the six. Alabama’s opponents won just .473 percent of their games last season, the least of any SEC team. However, Alabama can’t control Florida going 4-8; they can’t control WVU tanking, and although it’s not a direct effect, they can’t really control Tennessee finishing under .500 the last three seasons.
- I would contend that Auburn has the conference’s best overall football team, but the strength of schedule puts the Tigers in the top four. That’s the very reason why many have the Tide winning the West, and they get Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Auburn has both Georgia and Alabama on the road, along with playing South Carolina. That’s brutal.
- Interestingly, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are rarely ‘up’ at the same time. One school is usually up and the other down, but this season is different. Both teams could play spoiler in the West, and one of the biggest things going for each team is their schedules. The Rebels have the SEC’s 10th toughest schedule, while Mississippi State has the 11th toughest schedule. Both teams are set up to make some serious noise this season.
- Missouri will enter 2014 as a darkhorse once again, even after winning the division last season. And the schedule sets up perfectly for the Tigers. The Tigers get the SEC West’s two biggest rebuilding teams in Texas A&M and Arkansas. Mizzou is set up for success again.
Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports