These 5 SEC nonconference schedules are the easiest in 2023
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register
UT, OK, and the nine-game schedule (if the SEC goes that direction) will help make for better schedules.
True, but UGa could have and should have played OK this year…
Sure. If it meant UGA getting two home games in back to back years.
You know who wasn’t going to agree with that? Oklahoma.
He’s trolling. Either that or he is stupid. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Besides, it really does matter. They would have smoked OK.
not matter *
Definitely would have blown them out of the water.
Also not a good look to have an alleged incoming powerhouse made to look as inept as Vandy
Jay, why would there need to be back to back home games? Play at OK this year then start the schedule for next year at UGA. How hard is that to figure out?
Because one would be a conference game and one wouldn’t. And that has far more implications than a regular season nonconference game.
@Braves1471: The SEC asked us to cancel and why would we not take advantage of another weekend to recruit. I know it may be hard for a UT fan to understand, but UGA doesn’t play Thursday night games and we aren’t somebody’s paid win, we are better than that. That stuff is reserved for second tier teams like FSU, SCar, or UTk
@Nate, funny only second tier teams play neutral site games against their biggest rival, which is really not neutral as the game is played in gator country. Boy, UF really fooled UGa…
@Braves1471 2nd tier teams don’t play neutral site games. We also have a winning record against UF in Jacksonville. Is it gator country if you own it?
I don’t think the SEC asked UGA to cancel that game. I believe they were told to do that.
I basically make about $14,000 to $18,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering p10 I only work about 10-13 hours a week from home. I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it copy below web…
I work an online job from home and earn 185 dollars per hour. I never imagined I could do it, w but my best friend, who makes $15,000 a month at the job, encouraged me to find out more about it. This has limitless possibilities.
Now Here —————> incomezone55.blogspot.com
uT and OK..lol We were a school 100 years before Texas and before it was even a state..lol The non-conference schedule will suffer if we go to 9 conference games. You’ll have less high quality OOC match ups. Also, we’ll suffer more missed rankings due to having to play an extra conference game. Great if you win, but devastating if you lose that extra game. The Big with 8 will get the nod and TCU is proof of that. And proof it was a disaster how it worked out. Raising TCU in the rankings after losing to K-St proved to be embarrassing for the committee after how badly they were beaten in the natty game. But they got in doing less than what most SEC teams will do, even with 9 conference games.
Some teams aren’t scared to play nine SEC games. Some are.
It’s not about scare, it’s about smart. You’d have zero natties if you played our schedule year in and out..lol So thank your cake schedules that bring you 2nd hardest offenses you play like AR. You go to 9 games and your already down to Bama every other year and maybe TN, LSU, Auburn and SC already has shown they can upset you without a good QB, 60 yards of rushing..lol At least SC beat us with some talent..lol But 9 games for UGA would mean your cake schedules are over. With 8 you could continue to skate but not 9.
You’re finally, after all this time, right about something. You have no natties playing your schedule. Sorry bout that.
Half the coaches don’t want it because it’s going to be more expensive on injuries. And imagine if you will your playing 3 potential top 10 offenses a year, versus say last regular season, TN and an AR. New QB’s even up the chances of injuries, even with QB’s the size of Milton. It’s all bravado until little Beck or Ricola get hurt mid season and oh, that extra conference game is against LSU. You might win the game but lose the QB. SEC defenses do a great variety of damage more so than any other conference. Those other conferences already have an advantage with 8 games and a good OOC match up and they would have less injuries going into the post season. We should just ask ourselves is it worth it to go that extra mile with risks that won’t net us any pros over those other conferences? The answer is no imo.
Ricola? Who the heck is that?
JTF At least with our natties we were consistent. We didn’t go 1-1 against Bama, we just beat everybody. For UGA to win natties, the stars must align just right. You must avoid x number of good teams, FG’s have to be missed from point blank..lol. Never was that way with TN and our 6 natties, 8 if you count two controversial. Let me re-introduce 1980 troll to you. Not since 1980 have you won a national title by dominating Bama for a season.. lol. Not since have you played a more deserving harder schedule worthy of the talented teams you beat in 80 vs the last two years. Especially the regular season. Not ever have you or any other team won a national title from a team that never scored an offensive point in a game (2021 vs Clemson). Not since 1980 or ever have you ever defeated Alabama in a SECCG. And never has a team had such the luck to have a deep team that had virtually no opt outs due to the rona the way most every ranked team did. lol. So, yeah brother, still…..1980 until you look more lucky than elite. lol
JTF It’s my new nickname for you new committed QB of course. lol
JTF yes but during a time in which talent of most every college football team was down coming out of the rona. If you were deep going into it in 2020, you faired well and few teams had the depth and didn’t suffer many opt outs. So the quality of foe was far less than before rona, before 2020. I think last year, even going back two seasons the quality of foe due to those opt outs, gave us the fewest amount of elite teams. I mean TCU got in the playoffs. A team without an elite QB won the natty two years in a row, with zero recievers ranked in the top SEC 15..lol That doesn’t happen w/o extenuating circumstances, like say, rona demic. You just never went out there and romped the bad teams and your literally acting like a 14 point win at home over TN was a blow out, even though you lost the second half of that game..at home.. These are things we typically don’t see of national title teams. Even their fanbases of those former natty teams never viewed a 14 point win at home as a blowout. Unique to UGA fans..lol. I guess I need to see you all go out there, player the better teams in the regular season and see you up there in the individual rankings in the top 10 and with ranked players. Out of the last 25 drafts over the last 2 drafts, apart from two T’s, you only have gotten three offensive players drafted! In no other reality or history have we seen national title winners that poor on offensive drafts. 1 WR drafted in the last 4 drafts. 3 out of 25 over the last two years there were either a WR, RB or QB. Again, clues. So in what world does this happen when it’s never happened? A newly post rona world.
I hard as I scan the Official NCAA website, can’t find six titles for Tn.
JTF Let me help you.
Tennessee Volunteers football
Claimed national titles 6 (1938, 1940, 1950, 1951, 1967, 1998)
Unclaimed national titles 6 (1914, 1931, 1939, 1956, 1985, 1989)
Wikipedia Tennessee Volunteers. See how easy that was. We are not even claiming or contesting 6 others for a total of 12. However Bama never went that rout..lol If there was controversy, we left them unclaimed. Bama did not. So Bama and TN have been close in national titles claimed and unclaimed for most of their history. Even today, had we claimed those we’d have 12 like Bama claimed..
We also have records that we can never repeat nor any team. These are called immortals. Like TN’s D not allowing a single point scored on them for the regular season of 1939 and lost the natty to USC. Still unscored upon regular season. That sir, was good defense compared to anything UGA has done on D.
JTF What is an unclaimed national title? Unclaimed National Championships are teams that have been named a National Champion by the various polls and so forth throughout the history of college football but the school itself does not claim it in the schools record book. Oh, except Bama did back in the day. This was the biggest problem your Uncle Lou has with Bama. Claiming unclaimed National titles from way back in the day. Well, UGA wasn’t a football powerhouse back in the day so there is no way in his lifetime that UGA can make up the difference between National titles claimed by Bama vs UGA.
The NCAA OFFICIAL website says:
38- TCU ( Tn had 2 loses.)
Tn didn’t have two loses in 38.
They finished 2nd in the AP FINAL POLL.
JTF, last I checked the NCAA isn’t the one deciding who the Champion is, that is the media publications. Why are you checking the NCAA website.
You might want to catch up. Got a thing called playoffs now. I can understand your unfamiliarity with this though.
Anyway, the AP is about as “media” as it gets. Their website sites Tn with two also. Which, is fortunate because 1951 was awarded by the AP before they got slaughtered in the Bowl game.
Kind of like how the Nazis were getting slaughtered in 1943 but you UGa was still the only team playing football then…
So weak. You said the other day that UGA was the only SEC team to field a team. How did UGA go 0-3 in the conference?
Fact is, a few teams, like UGA used players too young to serve.
You ever tire of being wrong?
Tennessee’s standard is that if a single major rating organization awards them the championship they claimn the title. Georgia’s standard (and most schools) is that the majority of the major polls have to award them the title. The lone agency that awarded the title to Tennessee in 1967 also awarded it to Georgia in 1968, yet Georgia doesn’t claim it because they have a higher standard than the Vols. Not much has changed lol
@Braves, I guess both the Army and Naval Academies didn’t see things your way since they too fielded teams in 1943. BTW, we spent the last 2 decades at war. Guess I missed you in Kandahar there Chickenhawk.
gwhite quit complaining about a 9 game conference schedule. You apparently don’t have season tickets. I don’t want to see games against teams like Akron, Ball St. or UT-Martin.
I’d rather play the SEC teams that we now only see every 4 or 5 years than watch a totally non competitive game.
We now have a coach with the best offensive mind in the country and a roster that has been totally rebuilt, so I say bring on the competition!
9 game conference schedule is inevitable. (Thanos gif)
Why would A&M want that? You been a borderline 6 win team total. If you don’t get things figured out, you’ll rule the day we went to 9 games. If you can’t fix it at 8 games, you certainly don’t need a 9th and the extra loss. As of today, how many SEC teams had more wins than A&M last season? And this was before all the newly departed.
What would have happened if last year was a 9 game conference season? You would have gotten a TN, UGA possibly? TN had some 5 win seasons because we played at least two top ten teams a season with bad coaching and you have bad coaching at A&M. You’ll wish you had that 4th OOC game to push you to 6, 7 plus wins. If Saban doesn’t want it, you can be sure Kirby really doesn’t no matter what the fans say..lol Does Fisher?
UFs schedule is already lined up to be the toughest moving forward. 2-3 P5 non-conference games slotted for the next 10 years.
@ Braves1471…I’m with you. Sucks for us but understand the cancelation as the contract was for home and home.
I mean if you’re going by who has the strongest non-conf opponent between UGA and MSU, then I guess UGA is second, but UGA’s slate still feels overall weaker, I just don’t feel like looking it up so it definitely might my bias of relative strength.
Wise comment. I don’t make a fuss about TN’s OOC match-ups because we have a hard schedule every year, with at least two top ten teams. Last year we had 3. I think UGA’s OOC just looks worse because you would expect UGA to have an easier time than MSU because they are a better team. With UGA’s weak regular season schedule you can only hope some of those teams improved dramatically from last season and, “are ranked when you play them”. Not crossing your fingers one sneaks in at 20 through 25 after losing 4 or 5 games. It’s way more impressive to beat those teams when they are ranked, have everything to play for, have less injuries. If those teams haven’t improved than you just hope for one or two good OOC games with a ranked foe. I think UGA might have a couple games before TN that could get them trouble, kinda like Mizzou or UK type game troubles. Say Auburn would be my first choice. Freeze beat Saban twice with good offense so UGA is likely to see a very different Auburn this season. The AU D wasn’t terrible but like any D they need the offense to possess the ball so they aren’t working over time every week.
7 division games is a conference schedule by itself. Bad for the familiarity that a conference needs.
The SEC needs to go to 4 divisions of 4 teams, round robin. Then use the other 4 dates to 6 dates per season to round robin through the other 3 divisions. So each program would see all the others every other year or maybe in odd years they might go two years without meeting.
If that is not the SEC four team play off plan, then it needs to be.
The plan is basically set. No Divisions. Two best teams play for the SEC title.
Which, oddly enough, is how it used to be.
It has never been that way.
Dude. There was no SEC Championship game before we went to divisions.
Dude. I was referring to the fact that the two best records determined the conference winner, and in many cases tied for first.
If Saban doesn’t want it, why would Kirby? It basically ends your cake schedule. In any given year with 9 conference games, compared to what your schedule has been with 8 games, your 100% likely to play an extra top ten team in the regular season. Resulting in some seasons where you could see three. When was the last time or season and how did you do when you had to play 3 top ten teams in a regular season? LOL. That is not something you’ve ever done nor won at. To be fair, most teams haven’t. Now throw in the playoffs at 12 teams, you could see 4 or more in one complete with post season.
And for comparison, you saw only one last season in the regular season and one in the playoffs against OSU. You had an advantage over TN at home. LSU already had 3 losses by the time they got to the SECCG and a team TN beat 40-12. So now imagine playing 4 top ten teams instead of two. And all for what? You ain’t afraid to play 9 conference games? Of course your not, but it makes the road to a natty game much harder.
Saban has always been a supporter of a 9-game SEC schedule. Back in 2012, when the SEC added TAMU and Mizzou he pushed for a 9-game schedule.
“I’m satisified with what everybody determined, but in all honesty, I was for playing more games,” Saban said before teeing off in the Regions Tradition Celebrity Pro-Am at Shoal Creek.
“When you increase the size of the league by 15 percent, you’ve almost got to play more games to get a true indication of who’s the best team in the league. We should come up with some format in the future where every player in the league gets an opportunity to play every team in the league.
Fast forward to today and he still supports a 9-game schedule, so I am not sure where you keep getting that idea that Saban doesn’t support it. He’s been pushing for it for years.
“I’ve always been for improving the college schedule, trying to eliminate some of these games that we play that fans, players, supporters are not really interested in. I think the nine-game format is a start in that direction.”
The Standard Saban is no longer for a 9 conference scheme. Why? Because in one season he learned what NIL and the portal have done for teams like TN and LSU. They beat him in the first and second seasons of these new HC’s. He was for it before he saw how it evens out the playing field more quickly. Gone are the 4 year rebuilds with teams with good coaching and recruiting. In 2012 NIL and the portal were just dreams and not yet reality. Now, he might have to cotinue to play potentially 2 or 3 top ten offensive teams or top ten teams per season. And he’s not an offensive mind, but requires OC perfection for his offenses. Now imagine him after last season’s losses and no OC on the level of who just left for the NFL. And your three potential permanent foe are LSU, Auburn and TN and you get UGA every two years..LOL Every two years he could be dealing with 4 top ten offenses in one regular season..lol So no, this is why he’s not for it now as any coach with common sense wouldn’t want.
The Standard Did you not hear him just a few weeks ago? “We have to play all of them?” “Not fair”. What he was referring to what that AU, LSU, and TN are most likely all going to be top ten teams or top ten offenses and you throw in UGA every two years and it becomes way way out of hand even for Bama. Try winning with that kind of potential talented teams year in and out with UGA thrown in every 2nd year. He’s not dumb and this is why he’s not for it now. Who do you think convinced half the coaches to still push for 8 games? Saban.
The Standard None of those Saban quotes you listed were said after last season. None. You just got beat by two teams with less talent than yours. Now BY is gone, you have a infant for an OC and QB issues and than someone tells you, “your three permanent foe with a 9 game conference is looking like LSU, TN and AU, and UGA every 2nd year”. lol. You’d be a pretty bad coach if you took that lying down. How Bama is paried with permanents as all other teams are are based on an avereage of how those teams have faired over teh last 10 or 15 seasons, or however many. Well, TN hasn’t been good but proven they are now, AU just hired Freeze who beat Saban twice and AU has the best record of any team against Bama historically. LSU just got a great HC and has improved the team in one season. Being for a 9 conference format and those three foe would be putting your team at a big disadvantage compared to the rest of the SEC.
Gehite I hate feeding you because you are slow but 3 top ten opponents.. let me direct you to 2022.. Oregon Tennessee LSU Ohio state TCU .. 2021 Clemson Bama Michigan
Saban is still all for the 9-game conference schedule and has stated so just as recent as March of this year. He has never waivered from that position. Years back he even argued that all P5 teams should play 10 P5 teams a season to create more scheduling balance.
He has never been against playing tougher and more entertaining games, he just wants there to be balance across schedules.
He has stated that for the 9-game schedule to work then the three permanent opponents need to be selected so that there is equal and fair competition amongst all SEC teams’ schedules. You can’t have Bama playing LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee while Tennessee is playing Bama, Vandy, and Kentucky for example.
i don’t always agree with gwhite, but he’s 1000% correct on uga benefitting from sub par cfb play and a lot of luck. uga fans should be thanking their lucky stars.
If this article was about the best non conference schedules from 2024 onward, UGA would be the toughest and it’s not close. If you want to check out future schedules of all schools there is a cool site for that
fbschedules . com
Another cool site that shows current depth charts is
ourlads . com
Since the OU game gets cancelled due to bs beyond either teams control, UGA has weak OOC games?
It’s a shame you can’t link past and future OOC games schedules here.
As a Razorback, I cannot WAIT to have Texas on the schedule again… I LIVE in Austin, and any Horn fan old enough to remember the SEC is looking forward to the rennuwal as well.
And…I’m looking forward to facing Oklahoma. I dont expect to beat them every year, but it will be awesome seeing them brought down a notch or two in the much tougher SEC.