One game each SEC East coach wants to win the most in 2018
We hear it every year — coaches generally refuse to discuss any opponent that’s not next on their schedule.
Still, that doesn’t mean that, behind the scenes, there aren’t a few games on the schedule each year that coaches want to win a bit more.
From rivalry games to games that have a personal meaning for the coach, there are plenty of contests that are probably circled on calendars across the SEC East this season.
Below, we take a look at which game this season each SEC East coach likely wants to win the most:
Dan Mullen, Florida — at Mississippi State (Week 5)
This one is personal for Mullen, who left the Bulldogs for Florida this offseason. While he’s likely to receive quite a bit of applause for what he did for the Bulldogs over the past several years, once the opening kickoff takes place, there will be no love lost.
It will also be a great early test for the rebuilding Gators, so Mullen will need to have his squad ready to play in the hostile environment in Starkville.
Kirby Smart, Georgia — at South Carolina (Week 2)
Many are already pegging the Week 2 matchup in Columbia as the SEC East title game, so it’ll be one with big stakes for the Bulldogs.
Add in the fact that Muschamp and Smart played together at Georgia back in the day, and this will be a game Smart definitely wants to win.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky — at Florida (Week 2)
This one is a no-brainer, as the Wildcats have lost to the Gators for the last 31 years in a row. Last year, they were one uncovered receiver away from potentially ending the streak:
Stoops won’t have to wait long for his chance in 2018, as the Wildcats travel to Gainesville in Week 2.
Barry Odom, Mizzou — at Florida (Week 10)
After Florida DE Cece Jefferson talked trash about Mizzou fans during SEC Media Days last month, the Tigers will be hungry to prove that last year’s big win over the Gators was no fluke.
With the Gators on the rise under new coach Dan Mullen, this will be a good measuring stick to show just how good the Tigers are in 2018.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina — at Florida (Week 11)
Muschamp is 0-1 at The Swamp since taking over as South Carolina’s head coach in 2016, losing 20-7 to the Gators that year.
Heading into this season, the Gamecocks have SEC East title hopes, but many think the Gators will be on the rise again under new coach Dan Mullen. Muschamp, who coached at Florida from 2011 to 2014 before he was fired, will be hungry for some revenge in front of Gator Nation.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee — vs. Alabama (Week 8)
Pruitt obviously came over from Alabama this offseason, so he’d love to take down his former team. That won’t be easy, as the Tide have had the Vols’ number the past few seasons, but that doesn’t mean Pruitt won’t have his team fired up for the contest.
This game always means so much to Vol Nation, and with Pruitt as the head coach, it will mean even more in the coming years.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt — vs. Tennessee (Week 13)
The Commodores have had their in-state rivals’ number the past two seasons, and Mason will want to keep that going this year.
There aren’t many expectations on the Commodores this year, but a win over the Vols to close out the regular season always leaves fans feeling good.