10 most intriguing SEC non-conference games of 2015
Nothing makes SEC fans gleam with conference pride quite like success against opponents from other power conferences.
The 2015 schedule offers plenty of opportunities to test the league’s strength in non-conference games, particular on the first and last weeks of the regular season.
Here is a look at the 10 most intriguing games to be played by SEC teams outside of league play:
10. LSU at Syracuse (Sept. 26)
The Bayou Bengals visiting upstate New York for the first-ever regular season game between these two programs? Sign us up. The Tigers will take a break from back-to-back SEC West games against Mississippi State and Auburn to make the road trip in the final week of September. This should be a game LSU is capable of winning, hence its low ranking on the list, but we’re still intrigued. Let’s just send Les Miles to the Carrier Dome and see what happens.
9. South Carolina vs. North Carolina (Sept. 3)
The Gamecocks sure do like the spotlight of a Thursday night opener on the first college football weekend of the season, and this game should be a good way to get things going in 2015. South Carolina will cross the border for a neutral-site game with the Tar Heels in Charlotte. Both teams should be hungry for the momentum a win in this contest could build for the rest of their season.
8. Missouri vs. BYU (Nov. 14)
What college football player wouldn’t want to play in a game at historic Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City? Missouri and BYU found a way to create some intriguing out-of-conference action in a usually bland mid-November out-of-conference landscape. The Tigers could be in the thick of a race for a third consecutive SEC East title when this game goes down, adding to the intrigue of the scheduling.
7. South Carolina vs. Clemson (Nov. 28)
This rivalry game may happen each year at the end of the regular season, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something we can anticipate with a renewed vigor each season. After all, the in-state clash once ended in an epic brawl that cost both teams a bowl appearance in the 2004 season. This year, the Gamecocks will be looking to avenge a 35-17 loss to the Tigers last fall, which snapped a five-game winning streak in the series for South Carolina.
6. Florida vs. Florida State (Nov. 28)
There was a time when this game would top this list season after season, but that’s not the case this year. Still, it should be interesting to see how new Gators coach Jim McElwain performs against the Seminoles in the post-Jameis Winston era. After dominating the series with six consecutive wins from 2004-09, the Gators have dropped four of the last five meetings.
5. Georgia at Georgia Tech (Nov. 28)
Ahh, one of the most underrated rivalry names in all of sports. “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate” is the perfect way to describe the end-of-season contest between the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets. The last two seasons of this game have assured there is no love lost between the two, with each team coming away with an overtime win in the other team’s stadium. Both teams have a chance to be very good this season, meaning there could be more than just pride on the line.
4. Auburn vs. Louisville (Sept. 5)
The presence of Gus Malzahn mostly has erased this memory, but there was a time when Auburn fans clamored for former Tigers offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. Now in his second stint as the coach of the Cardinals, we should be treated to a clash of two of the game’s better offensive minds at the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. The only prior meeting between these programs took place in 1974, so this one is fresh.
3. Texas A&M vs. Arizona State (Sept. 5)
Now here’s a game that could produce some fireworks. Kevin Sumlin and Todd Graham bring two high-powered offenses to Houston for another neutral-field clash on the season’s opening weekend. Each coach has 28 wins in his first three seasons at his respective school, and expectations are there for each to have another strong season in Year 4. It will be the first time the Aggies and Sun Devils have met on the gridiron.
2. Tennessee vs. Oklahoma (Sept. 12)
If Butch Jones wants to make a statement about the progress of his team to the college football world, this game against the Sooners would be the perfect spot to do so. The Vols were overmatched in a 34-10 loss at Oklahoma last season, so a victory at Neyland Stadium in Week 2 would speak volumes. Winning this game could be a sign of a big season to come for the Volunteers, while a loss for the Sooners could signal another underwhelming season for Bob Stoops.
1. Alabama vs. Wisconsin (Sept. 5)
Wisconsin just can’t get enough of the SEC. In 2014, it took a fourth-quarter comeback for LSU to top the Badgers in an opening-weekend game in Houston. But Wisconsin got its second chance against the league in the Outback Bowl, and took advantage with a 34-31 overtime win over Auburn. This year, the Badgers opens the season against the Crimson Tide in another neutral-site game in Arlington, Texas.