Bowl season always gives us a chance to take in tons of quality non-conference games in college football. The regular season also brings about a pretty good slate of meetings.
The South Eastern Conference will hurt itself in this area with 2012 being the first year of the expanded schedule, but that's understandable with a late scheduling scramble.
But there are still some exciting games to look at. Let's take a quick team-by-team look at a few of the better out-of-conference match-ups for the SEC in 2012.
09/01/2012 - Alabama vs. Michigan (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington)
This is by far the most interesting and highly touted non-conference match-up for the entire 2012 regular season.
Alabama will help kick off the season in the Jerry Dome in grand fashion when they take on the reborn Michigan Wolverines. This game will likely be a tempting draw for the College Gameday crew and may end up stealing the show all weekend.
We know Nick Saban will have the Crimson Tide ready, but can Brady Hoke keep his team hot through the off season?
11/03/2012 - Tulsa @ Arkansas
With expansion schedule shifts, the Razorbacks find themselves with a rather lackluster non-conference slate.
Arkansas "loses" their big non-conference game because of the addition of Texas A&M to their conference schedule. With need to fill a slide, I figured I'd fill you in on the "best of the worst".
Tulsa isn't bad, but the question is, can Arkansas continue to steamroll into next season? This game is late, and if the Hogs struggle early, it may be an important win finishing up the season strong.
09/01/2012 - Clemson vs. Auburn (Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, Atlanta, GA)
The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game has provided us with a pre-season bowl of sorts and most have been highly entertaining so far.
Though Clemson and Auburn have played several times in recent years, this game never seems to lose its luster. Playing under the roof of the Georgia Dome to kickoff the 2012 season ensures the atmosphere will be electric.
11/24/2012 - FSU @ Florida
Does anything really need to be said about this game?
It's a must win in the state of Florida. Neither team can realistically win a national title without coming away from this one with a victory.
Not that either squad will be undefeated coming in, but you get the point. Will Muschamp needs this one, and needs it now.
11/24/2012 - Georgia Tech @ Georgia
"Clean, Old Fashioned Hate," has gone the way of the Bulldogs over the past decade, and Tech his starving for a win.
A game that always provides a ton of entertainment, this season's match-up in Athens will surely have the usual hateful level of competition.
Mark Richt dominates this series and Paul Johnson is hungry for another win to salvage a little pride.
09/01/2012 - Kentucky @ Louisville
This old rivalry gets an early go in 2012 with an opening day spot on the schedule.
The battle for pride, as well as recruits, kicks off the season for both teams. The Wildcats need a win, and the Cardinals are looking to keep their late-season momentum going into the next season.
09/08/2012 - Washington @ LSU
This match-up is a continuation of a home-and-home that started in Seattle back in 2009 when the Tigers took out the Huskies in a close one.
Washington is much improved over the past few seasons, but the Tigers are coming off a hugely disappointing loss with one of their best teams ever.
This game might give a better idea of who these teams are early on in the season.
10/20/2012 - Middle Tennessee State @ MSU
Well, I couldn't just leave the slide empty. Early prediction: Bulldogs win huge.
09/22/2012 - Tulane @ Ole Miss
In 2010, this game was one of Mississippi's few wins, and it wasn't in impressive fashion.
With another weak non-conference schedule, partially due to expansion scrambling, Ole Miss will have a good run to break in their new coach Hugh Freeze.
This is also not a bad game for regional recruiting, but it's one you surely don't want to lose if you're the Rebel Bears.
09/15/2012 - Arizona State @ Missouri
Last season, the Sun Devils won this game by a touchdown.
But Mizzou finished the season stronger.
With the Tigers trying to adjust to its new SEC schedule, every out-of-conference game will be important to win. Keep an eye on this early match-up as Missouri tries to impress the South East, and Arizona State tries out its new coach, Todd Graham.
09/08/2012 - East Carolina @ South Carolina
East Carolina has been gaining national name recognition for the past decade, while South Carolina has just been trying to hold its place in the SEC.
With a change at quarterback in Conner Shaw, however, the 2011 Gamecocks surged to a whole new level. Every win is going to be important to surpass last season's success and East Carolina is a quality opponent.
11/29/2012 - South Carolina @ Clemson
I realize this game happens every year and probably needs no mention. But this year both teams look to build upon recent success. If either team is going to have another truly successful season they will have to find a way to win this annual battle for complete satisfaction.
08/30/2012 - North Carolina State vs. Tennessee (Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, Atlanta)
Tennessee will have a chance to prove itself early this season when it quite literally kicks off the college football season in Atlanta for the first Thursday night game put on by the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff.
This year there will be two games in the Classic and the Wolfpack get a shot at a Tennessee team with a ton to prove.
The Vols are hungry to rebound, and Coach Derek Dooley needs this one to possibly save his job in Knoxville. 2012 starts fast for these teams, and both begin with their feet in the fire.
Who wants it more?
09/15/2012 - Texas A&M @ SMU
This old South West Conference rivalry is still an out-of-conference match-up, but the conferences keep on changing.
Southern Methodist heads, apparently, to the Big "East," while TAMU will try its hand in the SEC.
New head man Kevin Sumlin will already have plenty on his plate, and a loss to a pesky June Jones run-and-shoot Mustangs team would hurt.
09/08/2012 - Vanderbilt @ Northwestern
Vandy lost this game at home in a heart-breaker back in 2010 and would love to get a big win on the road to continue last season's success.
James Franklin looks to have the Commodores headed into uncharted territory. 2011 brought bowl-eligibility, momentum and an incentive to come out swinging.
Northwestern had better be up for this one.
11/24/2012 - Vanderbilt @ Wake Forest
This non-conference rivalry is quickly becoming one of my personal favorites.
With both programs lingering dangerously close to bowl eligibility each year, there is usually a ton riding on this match-up.
The IQ's may be much more impressive than the rankings when Vanderbilt and Wake play, but the game is always entertaining and these teams are both easy to root for.