SEC Football: Highlighting Biggest Contests That Will Shape Conference in 2013
SEC Football is the measuring stick by which all college football is judged.
A team from the SEC has represented (and won) the BCS title game in each of the last seven years, and the king of the hill (Alabama) has won three of the last four.
Is Alabama still the best in the SEC, or will another team overtake it in 2013?
This upcoming season, there are six teams with a legitimate chance to win the SEC Championship Game: Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. Only one team can finish the season undefeated, and like last year, it shouldn't surprise anyone if every team loses at least one game.
Taking a look at the schedule, there are three games that stand out as the most critical of the upcoming 2013 season.
Alabama vs. Texas A&M: 9/14/13 at Kyle Field
Expectations are high for both programs heading into the 2013 season, and it won't take long for one of these SEC West teams to get an early edge in the BCS standings.
Alabama will play only one game before this contest, while Texas A&M will have two cupcake opponents to practice on before taking on Nick Saban's crew.
The Aggies went into 'Bama's house last year and beat them, making an early statement in the program's first season in the SEC.
Which team will win?
In that game, freshman phenom Johnny Manziel was incredibly accurate and poised in the pocket, and the fearsome defense of Alabama couldn't force him into a single turnover. Without Luke Joeckel protecting his blind side, however, Manziel will need to keep his head on a swivel.
C.J. Mosley and the rest of the Crimson Tide defenders will be eager for revenge.
The team that wins this game will certainly be ranked the No. 1 team in the nation, and with plenty of football left on the schedule, neither program wants to start out the season in a hole.
LSU vs. Georgia: 9/28/13 at Sanford Stadium
A matchup between SEC East and West powerhouses, this contest will be a portrait of two opposing styles of offense.
Georgia, led by talented pocket-passer Aaron Murray, scored nearly 38 points per game last year. LSU, on the other hand, led by Zach Mettenberger, scored under 30 points per game, thanks to Les Miles' penchant for calling a conservative game plan.
Who you got?
Both teams feature elite defenses that lost key players to the NFL this past winter but always manage to play at a high level, and turnovers will inevitably decide the outcome.
Furthermore, it will be the first big test of the season for LSU, while Georgia will have already faced Clemson and South Carolina. Should Georgia struggle out of the gates this season and fall to one or both of those teams, LSU will have a chance to bury this team in the standings.
Should Georgia come away with a win at home, it will set up a phenomenal last couple of months to the season as the top teams in the conference beat up on each other en route to the postseason.
Florida vs. South Carolina: 11/16/13 at Williams-Brice Stadium
Toward the end of the season, fans of SEC football will be treated to an SEC East battle between Florida and South Carolina—one that features the best defensive player in the nation, Jadeveon Clowney.
Florida dominated the Gamecocks last season, thumping them 44-11 in Gainesville. This year, the contest will be held in Columbia, and the home team will be out for sweet revenge.
Will the Gamecocks find revenge in 2013, or will the Gators feast once again?
It's quite possible that both teams could be undefeated or only feature one loss when they meet up in mid-November. Should this be the case, anticipation surrounding this contest will be indescribable.
Will the old ball coach find a way to get his offense going against one of last year's toughest defenses, or will the young upstart (respectively) Will Muschamp find a way to replicate last year's drubbing?
Either way, you can be sure this contest will not only provide fans with a thrill, but it will shape the landscape of the SEC heading into the postseason.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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