Non-conference SEC matchups we're looking forward to in 2016
If you like outstanding nonconference matchups in college football, then Week 1 of the 2016 season is the week for you.
Including Ole Miss’ Labor Day game with Florida State at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, there are six nonconference games involving SEC teams, and all could potentially be very good.
On Sept. 3, the opening Saturday of the season, Alabama is slated to face USC at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the 2016 Cowboys Classic. In the last meeting between the teams, the Crimson Tide trounced the Trojans 24-3 in the 1985 Aloha Bowl. Alabama leads the all-time series 5-2.
How about this matchup on that same day? LSU takes on Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Tigers are 3-0 all-time against the Badgers, winning the last meeting 28-24 in Houston in the 2014 season opener for both teams. Believe it or not, this will be Wisconsin’s first game at the home of the Green Bay Packers.
Also on Sept. 3, Georgia will take on North Carolina in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. Since 1895, the Bulldogs and Tar Heels have faced each other 30 times. Georgia, which leads the all-time series 16-12-2, won the last meeting 7-3 in 1971.
Plus, depending on what happens in tonight’s game between Alabama and Clemson, Auburn might be opening next season against the 2015 national champion. Clemson visits the Plains on – you guessed it – Sept. 3. Even though Clemson has won the last two matchups, Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2.
Also on that super opening Saturday of the 2016 season, Missouri visits West Virginia. The Mountaineers and Tigers have met five times dating back to 1926. Missouri took a 3-2 lead in the series with its 34-31 victory in the 1998 Insight.com Bowl.
The aforementioned Ole Miss-Florida State matchup will be the first annual Orlando Kickoff game. In the only other meeting between the teams in 1961, the Rebels routed the Seminoles 33-0 in Oxford. Another notable nonconference game involving an SEC team in 2016 features BYU visiting Mississippi State on Oct. 15. The Bulldogs and Cougars have faced each other only twice, splitting a pair of games in 2000 and 2001.
But literally the “biggest” college football game of the season might the first-ever matchup between Tennessee and Virginia Tech on Sept. 10. Billed the “Battle at Bristol” because it will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway, it could be the most-attended game in college football history because the racetrack seats more than 150,000.
Here are the SEC’s coolest out-of-conference matchups in 2016.
Sept. 3: Alabama vs. USC (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 3: Clemson at Auburn
Sept. 3: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Lambeau Field, Green Bay)
Sept. 3: Missouri at West Virginia
Sept. 3: Georgia vs. North Carolina (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)
Sept. 5: Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Citrus Bowl in Orlando)
Sept. 10: Arkansas at TCU
Sept. 10: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Bristol Motor Speedway)
Sept. 17: Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt
Oct. 15: Mississippi State at BYU