For some, the path to a 4-0 nonconference slate is next to impossible.

It’s loaded with multiple Power 5 foes and a tricky Group of 5 matchup that’ll make 3-1 feel like a win. As a result, those teams have lower regular season over/unders. They’ll probably spend all offseason talking about their strength of schedule and claim that it’s not fair that some have much more favorable paths to a 4-0 nonconference slate.

Well, I already found the 5 toughest nonconference slates for SEC teams last week.

So this week, why don’t we do the opposite?

These are the 5 easiest nonconference slates for SEC teams:

Honorable mention: Auburn, Vanderbilt

I won’t hate on either schedule because Auburn and Vandy are making a trip out West. Granted, Vandy’s trip is to face Barry Odom-led UNLV fresh off a 5-win season while Auburn’s is to face Cal on the heels of a 4-win season. Plus, Vandy also travels to face Wake Forest. If Sam Hartman were still in town, that would’ve been on the board for “toughest” nonconference slates for SEC teams. As it stands, both are more middle of the pack than “easiest.”

5. Tennessee

  • vs. Virginia (in Nashville)
  • vs. Austin Peay
  • vs. UTSA
  • vs. UConn

On the surface, you might think Tennessee belongs higher on this list. After all, Virginia was in shambles last year and that game in Nashville is essentially going to feel like Rocky Top West. But I kept Tennessee a bit lower because UTSA has 23 wins in the past 2 years. The problem is the Roadrunners rank No. 115 in percentage of returning production. UConn ranks No. 6 in that department coming off a bowl berth. Tricky? Maybe not, but the Vols have at least 3 competent opponents. The 4 teams ahead of the them don’t have that.

4. Kentucky

  • vs. Ball State
  • vs. Eastern Kentucky
  • vs. Akron
  • at Louisville

The only reason this didn’t make the top 3 was because the Louisville game is on the road. Facing an 8-win Power 5 team on the road isn’t automatic, despite the fact that that’s exactly what the Cats have won the last 4 post-Lamar Jackson matchups against Louisville. And I suppose Year 1 of the Jeff Brohm era could be a unique matchup after Scott Satterfield never beat Mark Stoops. But other than that, woof. Kentucky has 2 FBS foes that missed bowl games last year and a middle-of-the-pack FCS foe. That’s not exactly moving the needle for the home slate, especially in a non-Georgia year (the Cats travel to Athens). But just in terms of the nonconference slate, yes, this could very well shape up to be the 6th year in a row that Stoops reaches 4-0 against non-SEC foes in the regular season.

3. Arkansas

  • vs. Western Carolina (in Little Rock)
  • vs. Kent State
  • vs. BYU
  • vs. FIU

BYU technically counts as a Power 5 foe this year, so unlike last year when Arkansas had the toughest nonconference schedule imaginable for not having a Power 5 team, that helps with public perception. It’s hard to treat this totally subjectively knowing that Arkansas went into Provo and stomped the 8-win Cougars. That battle in the trenches wasn’t a fair fight, which could prove to be the case again this year. Outside of that game, it’s an FCS foe in War Memorial Stadium and 2 Group of 5 teams who failed to make a bowl game last year. There was worthy preseason skepticism about Arkansas getting through the nonconference slate unblemished last year, which proved to be justified with the Liberty loss. This year? Not so much.

2. Georgia

  • vs. UT Martin
  • vs. Ball State
  • vs. UAB
  • at Georgia Tech

Ah, you thought I’d have UGA at No. 1 just because the Dawgs are expected to win each of those games by 40? Nope. That would be a relative ranking. We’re trying, as much as possible, to strip away what we know about the SEC team. Otherwise, yes, UGA would be No. 1 on this list running away with it. But playing at Georgia Tech could actually be a better game than we’re giving it credit for right now. Brent Key had that team playing well down the stretch and now that he’s the full-time coach, I’m intrigued by some of the portal additions like Haynes King, Christian Leary and former UGA wideout Dominick Blaylock. So not having UGA at No. 1 on this list is a slight hat tip to Georgia Tech.

Oh, and if you’re upset at UGA for not getting a better opponent than Ball State after the Oklahoma cancelation — a move that was prompted by the Sooners joining the SEC that would’ve made the 2023 matchup a one-off in Norman — show me the list of Power 5 teams thathad an available slot. It doesn’t exist.

1. MSU

  • vs. Southeastern Louisiana
  • vs. Arizona
  • vs. Western Michigan
  • vs. Southern Miss

The bad news for Zach Arnett in his first head coaching gig is that he has to deal with the SEC West. The good news is that MSU’s nonconference slate is a new coach’s dream. You start with an FCS foe and then you get an Arizona team that should be improved under Jedd Fisch but is still just trying to get to a bowl game for the first time since 2017. Six of Arizona’s 7 losses to Power 5 teams came by double digits, including MSU’s 39-17 beatdown in Tucson last year. Arizona had the nation’s No. 126 defense and is relying heavily on newcomers for improvement. And what about the likes of Western Michigan and Southern Miss? Neither had winning records in their respective conferences in 2022.

The scheduling gods blessed Arnett in Year 1.