On this summer-ish day, close your eyes and picture this.

It’s 3:30 p.m. ET on a fall Saturday and the SEC on CBS drums hit …

Did that just take you to a better place? It definitely did for me.

Side note: If ESPN doesn’t buy the rights to that jingle for the 2024 season, SEC football will lose a piece of its identity. I truly mean that. There’s something so distinct about that sound. Even as someone who grew up in the Midwest and without an SEC team, I found myself watching 3:30 games and feeling like it was bigger and more important than anything else going on in the sport.

For now, though, that’s not changing, so we shouldn’t even think of that possibility. What we know is that the SEC on CBS skeleton schedule came out Wednesday. We found out that the following SEC games are indeed a go.

  • Sept. 17 — Penn State at Auburn
  • Oct. 29 — Georgia vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)
  • Nov. 25 (Friday) — Arkansas at Mizzou

Yeah. It’s not much. It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to get people like me to now speculate wildly about what each 3:30 on CBS game will be.

So let’s do that. These are my predictions, not just what I want them to be. Keep that in mind.

Sept. 24 

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (in Dallas)

This game got the 3:30 CBS treatment last year, and it didn’t disappoint. Arkansas beat the Aggies for the first time in a decade. This year, there’s a chance that both teams are in the top 15, depending on whether Arkansas can get through a tricky start with Cincinnati and South Carolina. But this has major “who can be No. 2 in the SEC West” vibes that’ll make for a pretty easy sell. Florida and Tennessee could warrant this spot, but that would probably take unbeaten starts from both (Florida opens vs. Utah and also has Kentucky). I’ll take a rivalry that’s finally not so one-sided getting the slot.

Oct. 1

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Alabama at Arkansas

The beauty of last year’s game playing out the way that it did in the 3:30 slot in Tuscaloosa was that it set the stage for this being perhaps the most anticipated game in the series since at least 2010 or 2011. KJ Jefferson sort of avenged his Georgia showing by balling out against the Tide. Now that this game is in Fayetteville, you could argue that it might end up being the Tide’s toughest matchup of the year. I’m sure A&M and Ole Miss fans would disagree with that, but that’s sort of irrelevant for when CBS will have to decide on that Oct. 1 slot. The only way in which CBS would pivot would be if Arkansas had that aforementioned 2-loss September, and/or Auburn and LSU were both ranked.

Oct. 8 

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Tennessee at LSU

My 8 p.m. CBS prediction — Texas A&M at Alabama

Get it on your calendars now. Just a week removed from a May Battle Royale with Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher, CBS announced that it’ll have its lone night slot reserved for Oct. 8, AKA the day of A&M and Alabama. Coincidence? No way.

After A&M’s upset in College Station last year, this was already going to be one of the most anticipated regular-season games of 2022. This new feud only added to that notion. The only question is what’ll serve as the opening act. Tennessee at LSU is the best bet because it’s a unique matchup with massive fan bases. Think 2019 Auburn-Florida. That game also got 3:30 CBS treatment. It’s also possible that CBS goes with a more traditional approach of Auburn-Georgia, but the Dawgs have won 5 in a row in that matchup, 4 of which were by at least 3 scores. Whatever the case, it’s clear that CBS is betting on a loaded day in the SEC.

Oct. 15 

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Alabama at Tennessee

I know. Fifteen in a row. How many of those games were on CBS, you ask? Seven. Nearly half of those games in this extremely lopsided rivalry (in the 21st century) got top CBS billing. So in a year in which the Vols could have one of their best offenses in school history, do I think that game in Knoxville will be given the 3:30 slot? You better believe it. This was a 1-score game in the 4th quarter last year. In Year 2 of the Josh Heupel era, that won’t be forgotten by the time this one rolls around. Bryce Young vs. Hendon Hooker could be one of the best regular season quarterback matchups of the year. Barring an epic Tennessee collapse, lock this one in for mid-afternoon.

Oct. 22

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Ole Miss at LSU

There’s a world in which Ole Miss starts 7-0 and is ranked in the top 5 heading into this matchup. For real. Ole Miss’ road games are at Georgia Tech and at Vanderbilt, and the SEC home foes are Kentucky and Auburn. Granted, the back half of the schedule is an absolute gauntlet, but that’s irrelevant for this matchup. I have a hunch that CBS will want to get to Baton Rouge at least once in Year 1 of the Brian Kelly era. As crazy as it sounds, I don’t think that’ll be for the Alabama game because of the Tennessee-Georgia matchup in early November.

Speaking of that …

Nov. 5

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Tennessee at Georgia

A couple of things here. I know that Alabama-LSU is always a candidate here. But from 2011-21, it actually only got the 3:30 slot once because, of course, it was the rare CBS night kickoff a total of 9 times in that stretch. We know that the night slot is reserved for Oct. 8, so that opens the door for Tennessee and Georgia. Keep in mind, this could very well be the only time all year that CBS visits Athens. Like, where the defending champs reside. This could also be UGA’s toughest regular-season game. Add it all up and you’re likely going to get a Tennessee-Georgia game on CBS for the third consecutive year.

Nov. 12 

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Alabama at Ole Miss

Get your popcorn ready. These teams broke the century mark the last time they were in Oxford. In 7 consecutive years, the winning team scored at least 42 points. Obviously, the past 6 of those were Alabama’s doing. I’d expect the same offensive fireworks this time. Let’s be honest, though. This is all about Kiffin and Saban. That sells itself. Ole Miss might have 2 losses by that point, but that shouldn’t matter. Even on a weekend with every SEC team in action playing conference games, I can’t imagine a scenario in which this matchup gets passed up.

Nov. 19

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Georgia at Kentucky

The list is:

  • 2021 at Georgia
  • 2018 vs. Georgia
  • 2017 at Georgia
  • 2016 at Florida
  • 2014 vs. Mississippi State

Oh, I assumed you asked me “Connor, what were the instances in the Mark Stoops era in which Kentucky was part of a 3:30 CBS game?” There’s your answer. It’s 5, the past 3 of which were games against Georgia. The only instances of the Wildcats hosting a 3:30 CBS game in the Stoops era came in 2014 and 2018. Simple math tells me that happens every 4 years, ergo, Kentucky is due for another. Could this be like 2018 when Kentucky hosted Georgia in what was essentially an SEC East title game? It’s certainly possible, especially if Will Levis takes that next step and lives up to the early 2023 NFL Draft buzz. As long as Kentucky doesn’t have some 6-4 start, CBS should be heading to Lexington in November.

Nov. 26

My 3:30 p.m. CBS prediction — Auburn vs. Alabama

It doesn’t matter how bad Auburn is. This is getting the 3:30 CBS slot. Remember 2012 when Auburn pitched a goose egg in SEC play? The Iron Bowl was still a 3:30 CBS game. The last time this wasn’t a 3:30 CBS game was in 2014, which was the result of CBS having already aired Alabama 5 times. Instead of going with No. 6 and testing the flexibility of that contract, it aired the Egg Bowl and the Iron Bowl went to ESPN. It was a weird oversight in a bananas year in the sport. Something tells me CBS won’t let that happen again as long as they have the SEC’s rights. Plus, last year was a reminder that any Iron Bowl can be an instant classic.