2012 SEC Schedule: The 5 Most Intriguing Games Next Season

Jeremy HillmanContributor IDecember 29, 2011

2012 SEC Schedule: The 5 Most Intriguing Games Next Season

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    The official 2012 SEC football schedule was announced yesterday.

    As I review the listing of games, there are some that jump out as very intriguing matchups for next season.

    There are big games in the SEC every season with rivalry games like Georgia versus Florida and premier games like Alabama versus LSU. 2012 will be no different.

    Outside of those games that are seemingly big every season, what are the most interesting games in the new Southeastern Conference schedule?

    Click through the slideshow and see the most intriguing games you do not want to miss in 2012.

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

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    Gamecocks at Commodores (August 30th)

    This is the opening game of the 2012 SEC football season. For that reason alone, it will be a much-anticipated game. 

    However, the intrigue will be much deeper than that.

    The focus will be on South Carolina and if they can edge Georgia for the SEC East division title and challenge the Western division champion for the conference championship.

    That being said, the real interesting part of this game will be to see if Vanderbilt, and head coach James Franklin, can build off the success of this season and be a contender next year.

    Can South Carolina start off the season with a bang and begin their trek to big things in 2012?

    Can Vanderbilt make a statement that their strong play in 2011 was no fluke and upset the Gamecocks?

    This Thursday night clash in August should be a good one and will get the season off to an interesting start.

Missouri at Tennessee

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    Tigers at Volunteers (November 10th)

    With Georgia and South Carolina looking to be the top two teams in the SEC East next season, the third-place spot in the Eastern division is up for grabs.

    Will it be Missouri?

    Tennessee?

    Vanderbilt?

    This game in early November is intriguing not only because it could help decide who finishes third in the division, but also because the winner of this game will likely be bowl eligible and the loser may not be.

    Tennessee missed a bowl game this season and will be fighting to get back to postseason play.

    Missouri will be in their first year as a member of the SEC and face a daunting schedule.

    This game will be huge for both programs. The winner could go on to finish with as many as six or seven wins, and the loser could be stuck at five.

Florida at Texas A&M

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    Gators at Aggies (September 8th)

    This Week 2 game will get plenty of hype, along with Georgia at Missouri, as the very first SEC home games for the new additions to the conference.  

    The Texas A&M faithful will be loud and excited for their first SEC showdown at Kyle Field.

    If Florida, who finished middle of the pack in the SEC this season, goes over to College Station and beats Texas A&M soundly, it could be time for Aggie fans to worry about the transition to the mighty Southeastern Conference.

    On the flip side, if the Aggies grab a win over the Gators, it may be the SEC that begins to worry about the strength of their new addition.

    This is a crossroads game for both programs and for the conference. It is a symbol of the SEC of old and the new SEC.

    Don't miss this one.


Missouri at Texas A&M

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    Tigers at Aggies (November 24th)

    This matchup will be on rivalry weekend, as Texas A&M will host Missouri in what will be the first of many games that build this rivalry over the years.

    The two teams have already been battling in the Big 12 and now will be pitted together as SEC foes.

    One or both of these teams may need this victory to be bowl eligible. However, the biggest intrigue for this game will be the looming importance of being "the best" new addition to the conference.

    Both schools will battle, much as Arkansas and South Carolina have, to be the premier new addition to the SEC.

    Should be a fun game, with the winner having the upper hand in the rivalry and in the conference.

Alabama at Arkansas

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    Crimson Tide at Razorbacks (September 15th)

    This is the game Arkansas has circled.

    Head Coach Bobby Petrino has built a competitive program at Arkansas and put together back-to-back 10-plus win seasons.

    However, the last hump to get over is beating Alabama. In Arkansas' recent trend of success, the Crimson Tide have been the thorn in their side.

    Now Arkansas will get 'Bama at home after the Tide lose several key players on offense and defense to graduation and early departures to the NFL.

    While there will be lost players for Arkansas, too, they have the game at home, and a new defensive coordinator that could bring instant improvement to the Hogs' defense.

    While Alabama will still be a solid football team, this could be Arkanas' best chance to get over the Alabama hump.

    One of the better games of the third week of the season—the nation will be watching.