SEC Football: Power Ranking Every Team's Nonconference Schedule

Josh DowdyCorrespondent IIMarch 6, 2013

SEC Football: Power Ranking Every Team's Nonconference Schedule

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    A number of SEC teams have played intriguing nonconference games in recent years. Alabama began last season against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In 2011, LSU played Oregon at Cowboys Stadium, and Georgia played Boise State in Atlanta.

    This season's schedule will also include SEC teams playing uncommon opponents at unfamiliar venues. While these made-for-television games usually take place early in the season, strength of schedule is always a factor at the end of the season, when computerized number crunching plays a role in determining who will compete for the BCS championship.

    In this slideshow we will look at the nonconference schedules for each SEC team and then rank them based on the projected strength of the opponents, with each opponent receiving a rating between 1-100.

Auburn

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    Auburn's 2013 nonconference schedule:

    Aug. 31, vs. Washington State

    Sept. 7, vs. Arkansas State

    Oct. 12, vs. Western Carolina

    Oct. 26, vs. Florida Atlantic

     

    The Washington State Cougars passed for more than 330 yards per game under new coach Mike Leach in 2012, but won only three games. While the Air Raid appears to be in force, the overall picture is still a work in progress. Power rating: 55

    Arkansas State, of course, lost their most valuable asset when head coach Gus Malzahn returned to Auburn. Nevertheless, the Red Wolves won 10 games in 2012, including a 17-13 win over No. 25 Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Power rating: 75

    Western Carolina, a member of the Southern Conference, lost their final 10 games of 2012. Power rating: 35

    Florida Atlantic struggled to a 3-9 record (2-6 in the Sunbelt Conference) in 2012. Power rating: 45

     

    The average rating for Auburn's nonconference opponents is 52.5.

Alabama

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    Alabama's nonconference games for 2013 are:

    Aug. 31, vs. Virginia Tech (Atlanta)

    Sept. 21, vs. Colorado State 

    Oct. 5, vs. Georgia State

    Nov. 23, vs. Chattanooga

     

    The Hokies finished 2012 with a record of 7-6 (4-4 in the ACC). It is difficult to predict how well Virginia Tech may rebound after last year's disappointing season. What improvements they are able to make may not fully develop until midseason. Power rating: 70

    Colorado State won three of their past five in 2012, but only after a six-game losing streak, and finished near the bottom of the Mountain West. Power rating: 55

    Georgia State began playing football in 2010. They finished 2012 with a record of 1-10. Power rating: 25

    Chattanooga posted a 6-5 record in 2012, losing to their only FBS opponent, South Florida, 34-13. Power rating: 45

     

    The power rating for Alabama's 2013 nonconference schedule is 48.75.

Arkansas

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    Arkansas plays all of its 2013 nonconference opponents in the first four weeks of the season:

    Aug. 31, vs. UL-Lafeyette

    Sept. 7, vs. Samford

    Sept. 14, vs. Southern Mississippi

    Sept. 21, at Rutgers.

     

    The Razorbacks will likely be wary of the Louisiana-Lafeyette Ragin' Cajuns after losing to Louisiana-Monroe in Week 2 last year. UL-Lafeyette won nine games in 2012, including a victory over East Carolina in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Power rating: 70

    Samford won seven games in 2012, but lost to their only FBS opponent, Kentucky, 34-3. Power rating: 35

    Southern Miss lost every game in 2012. New head coach Todd Monken has a lot of work to do for 2013, and the Golden Eagles play at Arkansas immediately after a trip to Lincoln, Neb. Power rating: 45

    Rutgers started 2012 7-0 before struggling down the stretch. We will add five points to the rating for this opponent because Arkansas is playing at East Rutherford, N.J. Power rating: 70

     

    Arkansas' average power rating for their 2013 nonconference opponents is 55.

LSU

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    LSU plays the following nonconference games in 2013:

    Aug. 31, vs. TCU (at Arlington, Texas)

    Sept. 7, vs. UAB

    Sept. 14, vs. Kent State

    Oct. 26, vs. Furman

     

    LSU again opens their season at Cowboys Stadium, this time against TCU. Though technically at a neutral site, the game is being played 20 miles from the Texas Christian campus, and we will add the five points for a road game. Power rating: 90

    Alabama-Birmingham has not won more than five games in a season since 2004. Power rating: 40

    Kent State was 11-1 last season prior to losing in both the MAC championship game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Golden Flashes' offense features running back Dri Archer, who rushed for 1,429 yards in 2012. Power rating: 75

    Furman finished 2012 3-8 (2-6 in the Southern Conference). Power rating: 40

     

    The average rating for LSU's 2013 nonconference opponents comes in at 61.25.

Ole Miss

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    Here is the Ole Miss 2013 nonconference schedule:

    Sept. 7, vs. Southeast Missouri

    Sept. 14, at Texas

    Oct. 26, vs. Idaho

    Nov. 16, vs. Troy

     

    Southeast Missouri won three games in 2012 and posted a 2-6 record in the Ohio Valley Conference. Power rating: 25

    Texas is No. 17 in Andy Staples' way-too-early 2013 top 25. We will add five points for the game being played in Austin. Power rating: 85

    Idaho beat New Mexico State 26-18 last season. That game was their only win. Power rating: 30

    Troy had a disappointing 5-7 season in 2012. If senior quarterback Corey Robinson, who has already thrown for 10,000 yards in his Troy career, can take better care of the football—39 interceptions in three seasons—the Trojans should have better results this year. Power rating: 55

     

    Ole Miss' average nonconference opponent rating is 48.75.

Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State's 2013 out-of-conference games are:

    Aug. 31, vs. Oklahoma State (Houston)

    Sept. 7, vs. Alcorn Sate

    Sept. 21, vs. Troy

    Oct. 12, vs. Bowling Green

     

    Oklahoma State will be looking to improve on their 8-5 effort from 2012. Power rating: 70

    Alcorn State won four games last season. Power rating: 20

    As noted on previous slide, I expect Troy to improve upon last season's 5-7 performance. Power rating: 55

    Bowling Green finished 2012 8-5 (6-2 in conference). Power rating: 65

     

    The power rating for Mississippi State's 2013 nonconference schedule is 52.5.

Texas A&M

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    Texas A&M hosts four fellow Texan teams for their nonconference schedule:

    Aug. 31, vs. Rice

    Sept. 7, vs. Sam Houston State

    Sept. 21, vs. SMU

    Nov. 2, vs. UTEP

     

    Rice won six of their last seven to finish 2012 7-6 and returns quarterback Taylor McHargue, who threw 12 touchdowns and ran for 11 in 2012. Power rating: 65

    Sam Houston State finished 2012 11-4, their final loss coming in the FCS championship game. Power rating: 60

    SMU won seven games in 2012, including a win over Fresno State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Power rating: 65

    UTEP won three games in 2012. They beat 0-12 Southern Miss by one point. Power rating: 35

     

    Texas A&M's Lone Star nonconference schedule checks in at 56.25.

Florida

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    Here is Florida's nonconference schedule:

    Aug. 31, vs. Toledo

    Sept. 7, at Miami

    Nov. 23, vs. Georgia Southern

    Nov. 30, vs. FSU

     

    Toledo won nine games in 2012 and returns running back David Fluellen, who rushed for 1,498 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Power rating: 70

    Miami won seven games in 2012, failing to show up for the biggest games on their schedule. The Gators will go on the road for this game, adding five points to the rating. Power rating: 70

    Georgia Southern's 2012 season ended with a 23-20 loss to North Dakota State in an FCS semifinal. Power rating: 60

    Florida State won 12 games last season and is expected to be strong again in 2013. Power rating: 75

     

    Florida's nonconference schedule power rating is 68.75.

Georgia

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    Georgia is the only SEC team with two road games on their 2013 nonconference schedule:

    Aug. 31, at Clemson

    Sept. 21, vs. North Texas

    Nov. 9, vs. Appalachian State

    Nov. 30, at Georgia Tech

     

    Georgia begins the season at Clemson, which was ranked ninth in the final USA Today poll of 2012 and could start 2013 in a similar position. Power rating (including five points for an away game): 90

    North Texas won four games in 2012, finishing with a 3-5 record in Sun Belt play. Power rating: 30

    Appalachian State's 2012 season ended with a one-point overtime loss to Illinois State in the FCS playoffs. Power rating: 55

    Georgia Tech was .500 last year in both the regular (6-6) and postseason (1-1). This opponent rating also includes five points for a road game. Power rating: 70

     

    Georgia's 2013 nonconference schedule power rating is 61.25.

Kentucky

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    Kentucky's 2013 nonconference games are:

    Aug. 31, vs. Western Kentucky (in Nashville)

    Sept. 7, vs. Miami (OH)

    Sept. 14, vs. Louisville

    Nov. 2, vs. Alabama State.

     

    Western Kentucky started strong in 2012, winning six of their first seven, but ultimately finished the season 7-6. Power rating: 55

    Miami (OH) won four games in 2012. Power rating: 40

    Louisville made it into November before being exposed in 2012. They ended the year by beating overrated Florida and will likely begin 2013 overrated themselves. Power rating: 70

    All of Alabama State's seven wins in 2012 were against SWAC opponents. Power rating: 35

     

    The power rating for Kentucky's 2013 nonconference schedule is 50.

Missouri

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    Missouri's out-of-conference games are:

    Aug. 31, vs. Murray State

    Sept. 7, vs. Toledo

    Sept. 21, at Indiana

    Sept. 28, vs. Arkansas State

     

    Murray State won five games in 2012. Their only FBS opponent was Florida State, to whom they lost 69-3. Power rating: 25

    As noted in a previous slide, Toledo is looking for another big year from running back David Fluellen. Power rating: 70

    Indiana won four games in 2012. We add five points for Missouri playing on the road. Power rating: 55

    Missouri is the second and final SEC opponent for Arkansas State in 2013. Power rating: 75

     

    Missouri's 2013 nonconference schedule receives a power rating of 56.25.

South Carolina

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    Here is South Carolina's 2013 non-conference schedule:

    Aug. 29, vs. North Carolina

    Sept. 28, at UCF

    Nov. 23, vs. Coastal Carolina

    Nov. 30, vs. Clemson

     

    North Carolina won eight games in 2012 and should be a little stronger in 2013. Power rating: 70

    UCF won 10 games in 2012. They lost to Ohio State, Missouri and twice to Tulsa. Power rating: 60

    FCS Coastal Carolina won eight games last season. Power rating: 40

    South Carolina will close the regular season at home against Clemson. Power rating: 85

     

    South Carolina's nonconference schedule is 63.75.

Tennessee

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    Tennessee's 2013 nonconference schedule consists of:

    Aug. 31, vs. Austin Peay

    Sept. 7, vs. Western Kentucky

    Sept. 14, at Oregon

    Sept. 28, vs. South Alabama

     

    Austin Peay won two games in 2012. Power rating: 15

    Western Kentucky started strong in 2012, winning six of their first seven, but ultimately finished the season 7-6. Power rating: 55

    Oregon lost Chip Kelly after 2012. The drop-off will come, but perhaps not this season. Tennessee plays the Ducks in Eugene. Power rating: 95

    South Alabama won two games in 2012. Power rating: 20

     

    The power rating for Tennessee's 2013 nonconference schedule is 46.25.

Vanderbilt

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    Here is the 2013 nonconference schedule for Vanderbilt:

    Sept. 7, vs. Austin Peay

    Sept. 21, at Massachusetts

    Sept. 28, vs. UAB

    Nov. 30, vs. Wake Forest

     

    Austin Peay won two games in 2012. Power rating: 15

    Massachusetts won one game in 2012. Power rating: 15

    As previously noted, Alabama-Birmingham has been struggling for years. Power rating: 40

    Wake Forest finished 2012 5-7 with no wins over ranked opponents. Power rating: 50

     

    Vanderbilt's nonconference schedule power rating comes in at 30.

Rankings

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    As seen below, the power ratings for the 2013 nonconference schedules cover a large range. Perhaps with some exceptions, they reflect the respective programs' self-confidence.

    1.  Florida: 68.5

    2.  South Carolina: 63.75

    3.  LSU: 61.25

    3.  Georgia: 61.25

    5.  Texas A&M: 56.25

    5.  Missouri: 56.25

    7.  Arkansas: 55

    8.  Auburn: 52.5

    8.  Mississippi State: 52.5

    10. Kentucky: 50

    11. Alabama: 48.75

    11. Ole Miss: 48.75

    13. Tennessee: 46.25

    14. Vanderbilt: 30

    The implications of schedule strength are potentially significant. If the 2013 SEC champion has a loss—and is not Alabama—the quality of their nonconference opponents could impact whether or not they finish above the champion from another conference in the BCS standings.

    The 2013 nonconference schedules will provide some interesting matchups. It will be interesting to see who benefits more from their out-of-conference games, the teams whose schedules are ranked seventh and higher, or those with schedules ranked eighth and lower.