Ranking the 10 toughest non-conference opponents for SEC teams this season
Let’s rank the 10 opponents for SEC teams in the regular season and upcoming bowl games:
1. Clemson: There’s a good chance the Tigers will beat Oklahoma and Alabama will beat Michigan State. If it happens, the Crimson Tide will have its hands full against a Clemson team that hasn’t lost all season. Deshaun Watson has proven himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country and Dabo Swinney has turned the Tigers into a major contender.
2. Michigan State: For Alabama, it all begins with beating Michigan Sate, a team that found ways to win despite facing adversity throughout the year. The Spartans aren’t flashy, but certainly dangerous especially when Connor Cook is clicking on all cylinders.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were ranked in the top four much of the year. They know how to put up points with the 19th ranked offense in the country. Ole Miss has a good chance in this one, but it won’t be easy.
4. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh completely revitalized the Wolverines this year. They play tough, gritty and place a heavy emphasis on defense. Florida struggled toward the latter part of the season and will have a tough test in the Citrus Bowl, especially with a struggling Treon Harris under center.
5. Northwestern: A sleeper team with an outstanding defense, the Wildcats’ only losses came to Michigan and Iowa. Tennessee is in good shape heading into 2016, but it starts by getting past Northwestern.
6. Wisconsin: Wisconsin put up a decent performance against Alabama in the first game of the season, but fell short. Still, the Badgers had an impressive season only losing to the Tide, Iowa and Northwestern.
7. Memphis: This is a dangerous team that already showed it could hang with the SEC, beating Ole Miss earlier in the season. Paxton Lynch is arguably the best quarterback in the country and the Auburn defense is still trying to find an identity. This may be a difficult game for the Tigers.
8. Florida State: The Seminoles didn’t quite meet expectations this season, but posed problems for Florida, crushing the Gators 27-2 in the last game of the year. Everett Golson was a nice addition for the Seminoles, though they probably feel like they underachieved.
9. Houston: This was one of those teams that shocked everyone in 2015. The Cougars’ only loss of the year came to Connecticut on Nov. 21. Vanderbilt met Houston on Halloween and suffered a 34-0 shutout.
10. Toledo: Toledo beat Arkansas in Week 2 before the Razorbacks got hot. Toledo only finished the regular season with two losses.