Each SEC team's toughest 2015 non-conference game
Several SEC teams came under scrutiny this season for scheduling weak non-conference competition, but there’s a few matchups in 2015 that should at least temporarily quiet some of the naysayers who aren’t satisfied with the league’s full body of work.
SEC’s toughest non-conference games in 2015
Alabama — (vs. Wisconsin, AT&T Stadium, Sept. 5): — Luckily for the Crimson Tide, Kirby Smart’s defense won’t be matched up with running back Melvin Gordon who will be a rookie in the NFL by this point. The Badgers are a Top 25 team and a good, early test for the defending SEC champs.
Arkansas — (vs. Texas Tech, Sept. 19): The Razorbacks humiliated the Red Raiders last season in Lubbock, so you can expect the revenge factor to be turned up a notch when Texas Tech tries to deliver payback in Fayetteville during the third week of the season.
Auburn — (vs. Louisville, Georgia Dome, Sept. 5): The Cardinals may be without one of college football’s top receivers in 2014 (Devante Parker), but most of Louisville’s other skill players return on one of the ACC’s top offenses incluidng quarterback Will Gardner.
Florida — (vs. Florida State, Nov. 28): Massive graduation and draft losses may have knocked the Seminoles are their ACC perch heading into the 2015 campaign, but Jimbo Fisher still has talent at every position that will be seasoned by this point in the campaign.
Georgia — (at Georgia Tech, Nov. 28): The Bulldogs haven’t experienced playing in this rivalry matchup after a loss much at all in recent years, but the Yellow Jackets — a 2015 ACC contender — own the bragging rights and won’t give them up easily.
Kentucky — (vs. Louisville, Nov. 28): Louisville has won this rivalry four consecutive years, but the Wildcats are catching up from a player personnel perspective.
LSU — (at Syracuse, Sept. 26): The Orange have lost five consecutive games entering the 2015 season, but the Carrier Dome has at least proven to be a challenging environment — at times — for superior competition when visiting.
Mississippi — (at Memphis, Oct. 17): Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch is one of the nation’s most underrated players after accumulating 35 touchdowns as a sophomore. Memphis frightened the Rebels in Oxford during a game that was 7-3 Rebels entering the fourth quarter.
Mississippi State — (vs. Louisiana Tech, Oct. 17): Rest assured Skip Holtz will have Louisiana Tech prepared for what Mississippi State and new assistant Manny Diaz flex defensively on a unit depleted by NFL exits. Louisiana Tech won nine games last season after finishing 4-8 in 2013.
Missouri — (vs. BYU, Arrowhead Stadium, Nov. 14): Here’s an interesting matchup for the Tigers, one they could lose in their own backyard in Kansas City if they’re not careful.
South Carolina — (vs. Clemson, Nov. 28): The Gamecocks’ five-game winning streak in the rivalry ended in November in convincing fashion. Here’s to starting another streak in Columbia?
Tennessee — (vs. Oklahoma, Sept. 12): Getting the Sooners at home is a favorable matchup for a program returning an SEC-high 18 total starters. Don’t expect Oklahoma to be down for long, however.
Texas A&M — (vs. Arizona State, NRG Stadium, Sept. 5): The Sun Devils hovered around the Top 10 throughout the 2014 season and this neutral site matchup should be one of the better early-season Power 5 vs. Power 5 tilts in the country.
Vanderbilt — (at Houston, Oct. 31): It’s a road game for the Commodores against a team that should challenge for a title in its own conference. That often doesn’t end well for a program in rebuild mode.