Which SEC schools have the easiest non-conference schedules for 2014?

Here’s a glance at the SEC’s easiest non-conference schedules for 2014. I’ve included opponents’ non-conference winning percentage, and while that does play a factor, it doesn’t tell the whole story. But I’ve included it for reference:

1. Vanderbilt Commodores
Teams: Temple, UMass, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion
Opponents winning percentage: .429 (21-28)
Buzz: This is as easy as it gets for any SEC team. All four were combined to fall under .500 winning percentage during the 2013 season, and all four should be Ws for the Commodores’ new coaching staff. The Dores are one of the handful of SEC teams that doesn’t play a legit non-conference opponent.

2. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Teams: Southern Miss, UAB, at South Alabama, UT Martin
Opponents winning percentage: .333 (16-32)
Buzz: If not for Vanderbilt, MSU would have the most favorable non-conference slate. This will be the year MSU capitalizes on a much more favorable schedule than years past. The combined winning percentage of the four non-conference opponents during 2013 was .333 – the second worst in the SEC. Like Vanderbilt, MSU doesn’t play a legit non-conference opponent. All four should be Ws.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide
Teams: West Virginia (Atlanta), FAU, Southern Miss, Western Carolina
Opponents winning percentage: .271 (13-35)
Buzz: Although Alabama’s non-conference opponents combined for the worst winning percentage in 2013, Alabama did schedule WVU when things were looking up for the Mountaineers’ program. However, overall, this is a really weak slate entering 2014. FAU, Southern Miss and Western Carolina? We’ll see how much a weak non-conference slate affects Alabama in the selection committee’s eyes should it come to strictly strength of schedule.

4. Texas A&M Aggies
Teams: Lamar, Rice, at SMU, Louisiana-Monroe
Opponents winning percentage: .520 (26-24)
Buzz: The Aggies have the only winning percentage above .500 in non-conference foes, but overall, it’s still pretty weak. However, Rice had a nice 10-win season and Louisiana-Monroe has been an SEC upsetter. Texas A&M should still finish 4-0.

5. Florida Gators
Teams: Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, Florida State
Opponents winning percentage: .380 (19-31)
Buzz: Thankfully, Georgia Southern isn’t on the schedule in 2014. (Zing!) Of the 19 total wins by the Gators’ four non-conference teams in 2013, FSU won 14 of them. That’s three gimmies for the Gators, and we’ll see what kind of fight they give defending national champion FSU at Doak Campbell this year.