The biggest question when evaluating a potential SEC champion is who they play on the road.  Playing in the SEC means walking through the tunnel into some of the most hostile environments in the country.

You can see who topped our annual list of five toughest venues in 2012 and 2013.  Now let’s look at our five toughest venues heading into week one of the 2014 season.

5. Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.: “If it ain’t swayin’, we ain’t playin’.”  It has the league’s third largest video board and the Garnet Way.  Game day in Columbia has twice been voted top in the conference by  With a capacity of 80,250, South Carolina is among the nation’s leaders annually in attendance.  Steve Spurrier’s club also boasts college football’s longest home winning streak.  With the 2014 season opening at Williams-Brice for the showdown with Texas A&M and the Gamecocks hosting Georgia in what likely will decide the SEC East in week three, South Carolina will be ready to defend their home turf.

4. Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn: If you’ve never seen Nova enter the stadium pregame, you’re missing out.  Jordan-Hare, the nation’s 10th-largest on-campus stadium, has a capacity of 87,451 and one of the toughest game atmospheres, making the cut for the SDS list of five toughest venues in 2014.  The Tigers went 8-0 down on the Plains in 2013 and plays host to key opponents in LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M in 2014.  Game day in Auburn is unparalleled with Tiger Walk, and impressive pregame intro videos for the team, and even the band.

3. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa: Nick Saban’s palace is the third-largest stadium in the SEC, and since ‘Ole Saint Nick’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, the Tide are virtually unbeatable there.  Alabama does host Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn this year, but must go to Ole Miss and LSU.  As long as Nick Saban resides in Tuscaloosa, Bryant-Denny will always make our list.

2. Kyle Field, College Station: Though one of the largest college stadium redevelopments in history won’t be completed for the 2014 season, Kyle Field has already proven itself as difficult a road venue as any during its short history in the SEC.  The 12th Man takes their job very seriously with their Midnight Yell tradition, and with the shockwave of energy Kevin Sumlin and a certain guy named Johnny have sent through this program, you have to believe future SEC titles will travel through College Station.

1. Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge: A newly-completed renovation has catapulted Death Valley to the second-largest stadium in the conference (like it needed any help).  For years, teams have dreaded having to go to Baton Rouge to face the Tigers, especially at night.  Now, add in 10,000 more rowdy LSU fans and Tiger Stadium takes the crown for our toughest venue to play in 2014.  Entering 2014, the Tigers have won 57 of 64 home games under Les Miles, going undefeated in 2011 and 2013.  LSU gets Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama at home, but their fate will likely be determined on the road at Auburn, Florida, rival Arkansas and Texas A&M.