SEC boasts teams with toughest schedules overall, on the road and to close the season
Sam Pittman uses it as part of his annual refrain. How does Arkansas continue to have the toughest schedule in the country?
Pittman from the main podium at SEC Media Days last week said, “On our football schedule we are the defending National Champions of the hardest football schedule in college. I look towards next year, and I think we’re going to three-peat in that area next year.”
But this time, ESPN’s Chris Low explains Pittman’s argument:
The Hogs are one of five Power 5 teams (Georgia Tech, Oregon, Stanford and Texas Tech the others) that have two nonconference games against ranked teams — No. 23 Cincinnati at home to open the season Sept. 3 and No. 19 BYU on the road Oct. 15. In the three weeks leading up to that BYU trip, Arkansas faces No. 5 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, No. 1 Alabama at home and Mississippi State on the road. Throw in the trip to Auburn on Oct. 29, and the Hogs have a stretch where they play four of five games away from home.
Mike Leach’s program has a similar argument as Arkansas. As Low writes, “From Oct. 1 on, there’s only one breather for Mississippi State, and that’s against an East Tennessee State team that beat Vanderbilt last season and went deep into the FCS playoffs. The month of October presents home games against No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 20 Arkansas and road games against No. 22 Kentucky and No. 1 Alabama. After a bye week, it’s back home against Auburn and No. 3 Georgia to kick off November. Then it’s ETSU at home and a short five-day week before traveling to No. 21 Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night. Cue the cowbells.”
Auburn, meanwhile, is pegged with the toughest road schedule.
Bryan Harsin has had smoother offseasons. He resolutely survived as Auburn’s coach following an internal inquiry by the school that left him dangling. Surviving the Tigers’ road schedule will be equally daunting. Auburn is the only SEC West team that has to visit both No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia. There’s also a trip to No. 21 Ole Miss the week after the Georgia game and a Nov. 5 trip to Mississippi State, which rallied from a 28-3 deficit to win on the Plains last season. The good news for the Tigers is that they have eight home games, including their first five, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.