The SEC football schedule has been released for the 2013 season. While some games are still to be determined, the physical, marquee matchups within the conference are all in place.
Here is a breakdown of each team and their respective outlooks for the coming season.
|9/7||at Miami (FL)|
|11/16||at South Carolina|
Will Muschamp has built the Gators into a national title contender in just his second season at the helm. No matter what happens for the rest of 2012, Florida is definitely going in the right direction.
With the release of this schedule, Muschamp's bunch should continue to improve. The always intense rivalry with Florida State caps off the season, with the only difficult road trips coming at LSU and South Carolina.
South Carolina Gamecocks
|9/21||South Carolina State|
The Gamecocks will likely have to overcome the departure of running back Marcus Lattimore to the NFL. But junior Connor Shaw should be back at quarterback for the Gamecocks, who will have a legitimate shot at an undefeated season. All the toughest games on the schedule—Mississippi State, Florida and Clemson—are at home to close the season.
That's a pretty good luck of the draw for Steve Spurrier and Co.
|11/30||at Georgia Tech|
Mark Richt looked to be off the hot seat for the Bulldogs. That is, until they were routed at South Carolina. While that's not really fair, it is the nature of the highly competitive Southeastern Conference.
QB Aaron Murray is all but certainly headed to the next level, and will be hard to replace. Linebacker Jarvis Jones is projected by some—and by some I mean ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.—to go No. 1 overall in the 2013 draft.
The time for Georgia to win is now, because it's possible that the Bulldogs could start next season 0-2 or 1-3 with such a brutal beginning. Even if Richt lasts beyond this season, starting 2013 at Clemson, home to South Carolina, and hosting LSU three weeks later will be tough to handle if he's on a short leash.
|9/14||at South Carolina|
|10/26||at Texas A&M|
Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels will take over for Jordan Rodgers under center next season, and will still have big, physical receiving targets in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd at his disposal.
Vandy's defense has played well this season, more often than not getting gassed due to being on the field for too long. Carta-Samuels must make plays for this team to stay relevant. A road trip to South Carolina in Week 3 is sure to be a stiff test, but the Commodores nearly beat the Gamecocks to begin the 2012 season.
There is a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Vols. The problem is, quarterback Tyler Bray, and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, may all make the NFL leap. If they don't, then Tennessee has a chance to be a great team in 2013.
Unfortunately, the Volunteers drew arguably the most brutal schedule in the conference. Two cupcake games kick off the season at home, but back-to-back road battles at Oregon and Florida will be almost impossible to sweep through.
Combine that with a post-bye test hosting South Carolina and a trip to Tuscaloosa, and the Vols will definitely need their superb junior trio to return in order to compete in those games.
|11/23||at Ole Miss|
It's been a nightmare season for the Tigers, who are in their first year of transition from the Big 12 to the SEC. The spread offensive attack has been hampered due to QB James Franklin's injury woes, and the defense has been over-matched.
The 2013 slate is favorable early on, but a four-game stretch at Georgia, then playing host to Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee will show how far Mizzou has truly progressed.
|10/5||at South Carolina|
|10/26||at Mississippi State|
Poor Wildcats. They have scored just 38 points in four conference losses while yielding 152. A win in the middle of the season between late September and late October seems difficult to imagine.
Each year has gotten worse under Joker Phillips' three-year tenure, and 2012 has been an especially sharp decline. The future of the problem is in doubt.
But in the meantime, there's always basketball.
Alabama Crimson Tide
|8/31||Virginia Tech (in Atlanta)|
|9/14||at Texas A&M|
|11/16||at Mississippi State|
Nick Saban seems to continue reloading every season. The defending national champions still look like the best team in the nation, and their conference schedule next year is almost laughably easy, comparatively speaking.
The likeliest pitfalls barring an unforeseen trap game are at home on November 9 vs. LSU and the subsequent road matchup against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Not to get too far ahead of the game, but the Crimson Tide may very well be thinking "three-peat" by this time in 2013.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
|8/31||Oklahoma State (in Houston)|
|11/2||at South Carolina|
|11/9||at Texas A&M|
Former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen finally seems to be turning the corner in his fourth year running the Bulldogs' program.
A balanced offensive attack, strong defense and fundamentally sound football have gotten the team off to a 6-0 start. None of their wins have been particularly flashy, but they do sit at No. 12 in the initial BCS Standings.
More will be known on how far this program has come when it plays at Alabama in a few weeks. But as for 2013, Mullen's squad could get off to a similar hot start and be 4-0 entering a home tilt with LSU. Not a bad launching point at all for an up-and-coming program.
|8/31||TCU (in Arlington, TX)|
|10/5||at Mississippi State|
|10/19||at Ole Miss|
If only the Tigers could find the right quarterback. After narrowly missing out on prized recruit Gunner Kiel, LSU will likely have to continue developing junior Zach Mettenberger. Between Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett Lee and Mettenberger, the Tigers have had a lot of recent instability at the game's most important position.
It might not even matter, though, if current freshman Jeremy Hill runs in 2013 like he did in the team's recent victory over South Carolina.
The defense should once again be stout, and the schedule isn't too harsh until the big game late against the Crimson Tide.
Texas A&M Aggies
|9/7||Sam Houston State|
|10/12||at Ole Miss|
The Aggies struck gold with redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel, who has accounted for 14 passing touchdowns as well as 10 scores on the ground in 2012.
Their three-point home loss to Florida now looks really good, and Manziel should key Texas A&M to another fine season in 2013. An early home matchup with Alabama is the most concerning game all the way until late November, when the Aggies face LSU.
Even if their hot start to 2012 doesn't hold up with upped competition in the coming weeks, Manziel and Co. should definitely be a factor next year regardless.
|9/7||Samford (War Memorial Stadium)|
|11/9||at Ole Miss|
|11/23||Mississippi State (War Memorial Stadium)|
Future NFL QB Tyler Wilson has lit up inferior opponents the past two weeks. His presence is definitely helping keep the program afloat in the midst of John L. Smith's bankruptcy ordeal (via ArkansasSports360.com).
Wilson will be gone, though, and the Razorbacks have gotten shellacked by the cream of the SEC crop this year. They will get a shot at revenge on Texas A&M and Alabama—which beat Arkansas by a combined score of 110-10—but it will more than likely come up short.
Ole Miss Rebels
|11/30||at Mississippi State|
Bo Wallace is a promising sophomore quarterback. He can keep defenses on their toes with his ability to both run and throw. But he must take better care of the ball against top-tier SEC opponents, something he didn't do this year against Alabama and Texas A&M.
Ole Miss will face the aforementioned marquee opponents in 2013, along with another matchup with the Texas Longhorns. LSU at home and Miss State on the road are sure to test Wallace's decision-making skills. If they have improved by then, the Rebels have a chance to be competitive in the conference next season.
|10/19||at Texas A&M|
The program is in disarray, far removed from its run to the 2010 national championship. Head coach Gene Chizik is unlikely to remain with the team, which leaves next season totally up in the air for Auburn.
A difficult schedule featuring a road test in Baton Rouge and home encounters with Miss State and Alabama isn't going to help the cause, either.