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Story Archives: SEC schedule delivers
|SEC schedule delivers|
An SEC football game every week of the season.
That's really gonna throw a wrench into some fall wedding plans. Just make sure there's a television in the reception room.
It kicks off on August 30 as South Carolina visits Vanderbilt.
Talk about a trap game for the Gamecocks. Vandy usually plays its best ball at the first of the season.
"There's advantages and disadvantages to it," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said at SEC Media Days in Hoover Al., last month. "I think the advantages, our kids are unbelievably motivated all off‑season knowing the type of game we're going to open up with. It allows you to spread your out‑of‑conference games throughout your whole schedule, so that you might not have to go down a gauntlet like you normally would. You can spread those out‑of‑conference games a little bit. I don't think there's any doubt being able to start your season with four out‑of‑conference games that you feel you have a chance of winning.
"The best way to teach kids how to win and have confidence is by having success," Franklin said. "There's a fine line, no doubt about it. I think another thing is an opportunity for Vanderbilt to be on national television, get that type of exposure. We're excited about it, we really are. From a scheduling perspective, we got to continue to grow there. We have probably the most challenging out‑of‑conference schedule in all of the SEC playing two BCS opponents on the road. I don't know if there's another team in the conference that's doing that. That's an area we're going to have to continue to improve for the long‑term of our program, making sure we have the right type of out‑of‑conference schedule as well."
On Sept. 8, Auburn is at Mississippi State, Florida visits Texas A&M and Missouri hosts Georgia.
Welcome to the SEC.
"I think the Georgia game, it's big," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said last month. "I normally never talk about a game other than your first game ever. We understand historically for the University of Missouri it's going to be a big game, the first SEC game, the first SEC home game for our university. But there's going to be a lot of big games. I think that's one of the things that separates the SEC from the other leagues in this country, there's so many good football teams you're going to play week in, week out. That's what defines the league. So hopefully we can play our best game there. But then there's a lot more to come that we've got to play well also.
"We call our place 'The Zoo.' It's a great place to play college football," Pinkel said in Hoover. "First two games, Southeast Louisiana will be at night, but obviously the Georgia game will be also. That's kind of a whole new dimension I think in terms of playing in our stadium. Our fans, to say that they are excited about us being in the SEC would be a complete understatement. They've become fanatical about it. It's exciting to see. I think that says so much for the great respect nationally that the SEC has. But our fans are excited about it. We're going to play some great teams that come in there. In this league you have to play well every week, you got to finish games, you have to win games in the fourth quarter. We understand that."
"You know what, all the games are so big, all the games are so important," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "A year ago we lose game number one and we're in trouble in league play, losing to South Carolina. We knew South Carolina was a great football team. We knew once we got behind the eight ball, it was going to be very difficult to dig our way out of it. Everybody we played had a chance to beat us. I think all the games are tough, quite frankly."
Gator fans will enjoy their visit to Aggieland, while Missouri fans need to stay away from Uga.
"Offensively they're exotic," Florida coach Will Muschamp said of Missouri. (David) Yost and those guys do a great job of spreading the field, making you make plays in space. They create a lot of run/pass issues with the quarterback (James) Franklin. They give you there a tough preparation for your defense to get ready for the different looks, the things you're going to do. They do a really nice job. Defensively Dave Steckel, their defensive coordinator, is a guy I have tremendous respect for. Last four years, I may be wrong, they've had a first‑round draft pick in the NFL from the defensive side of the ball. The defensive end at San Francisco, Weatherspoon, the linebacker, the three technique at Chicago, I believe. Obviously, they recruit well, evaluate well and develop their players very well. No, hey're going to be fine.
"You look at what Kevin (Sumlin) and Kliff (Kingsbury) did at Houston," Muschamp said of the new Texas A&M staff. "They put up video game numbers as far as offense is concerned. They do a great job of spreading the field in a little different manner. They give you the illusion it's a throw offense. Their tempo to the line of scrimmage, getting the ball snapped, took 106 snaps in their spring game. Kevin did a great job at Houston. Now moving to Texas A&M, I won't see anything different. They'll be able to recruit well. There's a great recruiting base in College Station. It's an SEC‑like atmosphere. It will be loud, it will be fun. Our guys are looking forward to competing in College Station. They'll be ready to go."
Auburn-Mississippi State is a huge SEC West contest for so early in the season.
"This will be I think my eighth year as a head coach, assistant coach, in the Southeastern Conference," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said at SEC Media Days. "One thing is that first conference game is critical. That first conference game really sets the tone, no matter who it is you're playing. You're looking at a two‑game swing with that team. You're in week one of the season, we win that game, we're two games ahead because we're one game in the rankings and the tiebreaker. You're two games ahead of Auburn, or two games behind Auburn week two of the season. Obviously that's huge for us, to find a way to win that first game this year and put ourselves in position hopefully to make a run at an SEC championship."
On Sept. 15, Alabama visits Arkansas, while Florida travels to Tennessee.
John L. Smith will have plenty of opportunity to get his team ready and adapted against Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe.
If the Hogs finally get that signature win against Nick Saban's team, Bobby Petrino will be nothing but a memory.
Alabama actually opens its season in Dallas against Michigan on September 1.
"I think playing a great opponent like Michigan the first game of the season really enhances your players' sort of work ethic and preparation in the off-season because they know they're going to play a top-notch team right off the bat, and that's very challenging," Saban said at Media Days. "That's kind of been the reasoning behind it It's worked out well for us. But we know that Michigan is going to have an outstanding team and it will be a very challenging game for us this year."
On Sept. 22, LSU is at Auburn (get ready for Earthquake game, Cigar Game, Fire Game and Botched Overtime Field Goal Game recaps), Kentucky visits Florida, Vanderbilt is at Georgia and Missouri heads to South Carolina.
"We need to get off to a strong start this season," Auburn coach Gene Chizik said at SEC Media Days. "Our schedule is definitely tough in the month of September. You open up with Clemson, then Mississippi State, which is always tough, then a home game with Louisiana Monroe, and then LSU comes marching in. So it's going to be big that we start out fast. We're going to keep practicing to make sure that that happens."
The final Saturday of the month has Ole Miss at Alabama, Arkansas against Texas A&M with the site still up for grabs, Tennessee at Georgia and Kentucky welcoming South Carolina.
The first Saturday of October finds Kentucky hosting Mississippi State, Arkansas at Auburn, LSU at Florida, Georgia visiting Souuth Carolina, Ole Miss hosting Texas A&M and Vanderbilt at Missouri.
On October 13, Steve Spurrier brings his Gamecocks to LSU, Tennessee is at Mississppi State, Missouri fans will probably be outdrawn by Alabama at Missouri, Kentucky is at Arkansas, Auburn visits Ole Miss and Vanderbilt hosts Florida.
A week later, LSU heads to Aggieland, Georgia is at Kentucky, Spurrier returns to Florida, Auburn is at Vanderbilt and Alabama takes on Tennessee in Knoxville.
"I think the Aggies bring a very, very capable team, very lucrative recruiting area," LSU head coach Les Miles said at SEC Media Days. "They bring the experience of a real quality conference. I think they'll step in and be able to compete on a very even basis very quickly. I think we look forward to them. I think it really makes the conference stronger. I think it's a greater national appeal. Our viewing audience, if you will, goes now to Texas. It's the great Midwest in St.Louis. I think the addition of really both teams is really good for the conference."
The final Saturday of October finds Ole Miss at Arkansas, Auburn hosting Texas A&M, Florida and Georgia meeting in Jacksonville, Kentucky at Missouri, South Carolina hosting Tennessee and Mississippi State at Alabama.
"I don't think a lot of people are giving Texas A&M and Missouri the credit they deserve," Chizik said. "I will say that standing up here because for four years I played in that league. Gary Pinkel is one of the best football coaches in the country. Missouri and Texas A&M aren't coming into the SEC with their hat in the hand saying, Thank you for letting me be here. They're coming in here to compete and play their tail off on the football field. You can bank on that one. Kevin Sumlin, look at his body of work, as an assistant at Texas A&M and Oklahoma, and then as a head coach at Houston, his body of work speaks for itself. This is a great league, it's a tough league, we all know that. To think that Missouri and Texas A&M are going to come in here and all of a sudden they're going to have their eyes open to football, that's insane. These are two dang good football teams with dang good football coaches. They've got players. They've got coaches. They've got great venues. They've got great backing. It's a perfect fit for our league. They're going to fit right in here."
"Well, what we tell recruits, what we are tell our players is the best league just got better," Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said of Missouri and Texas A&M. "Two quality institutions in Texas A&M and Missouri coming into our league, so two quality institutions. Two quality football programs that both have great coaches with Coach Sumlin and Gary. Those guys do an unbelievable job. Somebody asked me, What advice would you give them? I don't need to give those guys advice. They understand how to compete at a high level."
The first Saturday in November is a definite do not go there, do not even consider it, the marriage is doomed.
LSU hosts Alabama, Missouri is at Florida, Ole Miss travels to Georgia, Mississippi State hosts Texas A&M and Vanderbilt travels to Kentucky.
LSU welcomes Mississippi State on Nov. 10. Those two have met in September the past few years. You have to know State fans are happy to catch LSU after Alabama.
The Tide welcomes Texas A&M and could be facing some problem as LSU — a letdown.
Arkansas is at South Carolina, Auburn hosts Georgia, Vanderbilt is at Ole Miss and Missouri visits Tennessee (welcome to Rocky Top in your head all day long).
Arkansas has had South Carolina's number the past few years, , winning 44-28 last year.
"We're going to worry about Arkansas the week of the game, just like we're going to worry about Clemson and Florida the week of the game,"the always entertaining Steve Spurrier said at SEC Media Days. "We don't talk about stuff like that.
We do recognize they have kicked our tails, so has Auburn. We've been pretty good against most of the other guys, but those two have had our number."
On Nov. 17, Arkansas visits Mississippi State, Ole Miss is at LSU and Tennessee travels to Vanderbilt.
The final week of the regular season has Auburn at Alabama, LSU visiting Arkansas, Kentucky at Tennessee, the Egg Bowl with Mississippi State at Ole Miss and Missouri at Texas A&M.
"As far as the LSU game coming to Fayetteville, I think that was out of necessity to a degree," Arkansas coach John L. Smith said at Media Days. "In traveling three weeks in a row, regardless if it's a home game or not, it's better to sit at home and make them travel the extra distance. So I think that has a lot to do with bringing that LSU game there. And we like having them at home. I mean, we love Little Rock. Our players, our coaches, our fans love little Rock. But, you know, we'd just as soon play LSU at home, I guess."
As for Freeze talking about Mullen never saying Ole Miss, referring to them as "That School Up North."
"Coach Mullen's staff, his players have done a good job of capturing the momentum in that series," Freeze said. "I give credit where credit is due. We're not talking about that right now because we have so many other issues to prepare for in getting us ready for the home opener. I know that's a cliché, but it really is the truth. When that week comes, obviously I was born and raised in the state of Mississippi. I understand the way it divides families. I understand the emotions that are involved in it. I get all of that. There will be a little extra incentive that week to be a little bit more energized, probably at little different feeling in your stomach, I guess. It would be hard because you feel that way in this conference every single week it seems like. Certainly I get what it means to the people there and to Rebel Nation, and our kids will understand that very clearly when that time comes. Right now our focus is on other issues."
State has also put up billboards the past couple of years, stating, "Welcome to our State," and
Asked if there were any plans for this fall, Mullen said, "I'm sure there are. I usually see them post. They give me a copy after the billboards have already been up of what they're putting up and what they're putting out there. I have the one on my desk, they give me a mini version of whatever they're putting up. Our marketing department has done a fabulous job of creating excitement around our program, around the state of Mississippi. The billboards I think are just part of the excitement they've created and the buzz they've created in the state for us."
And his favorite?
"I think the neatest one was the three in a row one, our three Miss Mississippis, in a row," Mullen said. "It had all three of those young ladies with the crown on. I think that was a pretty cool one that they put up there."
The following week is the SEC Championship Game. You're good to go with your wedding after that until the BCS Championship game. After all, what a BCS Championship game without an SEC team or two.
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