A Fans Guide To 13 Weeks of SEC Football: Here Are the Games to Watch
The college sports world is abuzz with the news coming out of the Big 12, Pac 10 and Big Ten football conferences. So much so that we may have forgotten the 2010 season here in the SEC.
Every game is a big game, but some games are bigger than others. Here are the 13 games to watch in the SEC this season. Even if you're watching your team dismantle a cupcake, my guess is you're also burning up the remote keeping up with the games that matter the most.
Week 1: LSU vs. North Carolina
This will mark the seventh time these two teams have faced each other since 1948, and the first time that both were ranked in the top 25. LSU leads the series 5-1, winning the last game 30-3 in 1986.
In 2009 LSU finished dead last in total offense in the SEC, much in part to lack of depth on the offensive line. Out of 12 offensive linemen on the roster six were freshman. LSU looks to correct that stat in 2010.
They have to do it against a stout Tar Heel defense, who finished 13th in total defense last year. They only get better in 2010. North Carolina can boast a Bama-like depth chart on their defensive line and can keep fresh players in for four quarters.
This promises to be a hard fought game and the best game that week 1 has to offer. Like John Madden said, "You can't win them all if you don't win the first one."
Week 2: Penn St. vs. Alabama
Has it really been 20 years since these two teams have met? Penn St. vs. Alabama has always been one of the premier match-ups in NCAA history. 2010 renews this epic series when #1 Alabama hosts the 13th ranked Nittany Lions.
Alabama leads the series 8-5, but Penn State won the last match-up 9-0. In 1979 Alabama won a National Championship by beating #1 Penn St. 14-7 in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama also won in 1982, a year that Penn St. won the National Championship.
Joe Pa's dynasty is in its waning years while Nick Saban's dynasty is just beginning. This will be one of the most paramount contests of 2010.
Week 3: Clemson vs. Auburn
Believe it or not, there used to be an on-going rivalry between these two Tiger teams. Remember, back in the days of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association? No? Maybe because you'd probably be dead if you were able to remember back that far.
Anyway, Auburn leads the series 33-11-2, the last victory coming in the 2007 Chick-fil-A Bowl. The last time these two teams met in regular season play was back in 1971. Auburn won that one too. And the 10 match-ups with Clemson before that.
The Auburn Tigers have a history of beating up on the Clemson Tigers. The 2010 game at Jordan Hare will be an important win for both teams. Everybody wants to win against their first tough opponent. It sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Week 4: Alabama vs. Arkansas
This will be the first of many battles for the West Crown. With many picking Alabama and Arkansas to finish one and two (you pick the order) in the SEC West this game will probably settle it early in the season.
Alabama enters the game as National Champions while Arkansas comes in with an '09 type Ole Miss hype. Having Alabama at home will let us know if Arkansas is worthy of the fanfare.
The winner of this game has the inside track to representing the SEC West in the SECCG. Both teams understand the importance of a win here and this should live up to its billings.
Week 5: Florida vs. Alabama
The Gators that visit Bryant Denny Stadium in 2010 will be a different team than the one that got humiliated in the SEC Championship Game. Although Meyer has lost nine play-makers to the NFL Draft, including Tim Tebow, Major Wright,one of the Pouncey twins, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon James, he still brings the #1 recruiting class of 2010.
This is not a season-ending game for either program. The loser could very well beat the winner in the 2010 SEC Championship and go on to play for the BCS Championship. But a win gives the victor a leg up. A loss could be enough to keep the vanquished from a trip to Atlanta.
This is all about "rematch."
Week 6: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas
The renewal of this rivalry has been a long time coming. Arkansas and A&M first played each other in 1903. From 1934 until 1991, the two teams played annually as Southwest Conference members, but ceased in 1991 when Arkansas left the conference to join the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas leads all-time 39–24–3.
These kind of games are sheer fun. Although the "W" is important, who the "W" is against can be even more important. Right now this is more of a fan rivalry than a school rivalry. And older fans at that. But the Southwest Classic is a game that will be played many times, and if Texas A&M can find themselves in the SEC West the importance of this game will be compounded.
Week 7: Arkansas vs. Auburn
Both Arkansas and Auburn are hoping this game has SEC West Champions implications. Last year it didn't when both teams finished 8-5 (3-5 SEC).
Arkansas needs a good showing against Georgia and Alabama while Auburn needs wins against Mississippi State, Clemson, South Carolina and Kentucky for this game to have meaning. More than one loss after this match-up and either team can kiss the SEC Championship goodbye.
Week 8: LSU vs. Auburn
This will be Tiger Bowl II for the Auburn team. Last year the Auburn Tigers visited the Bayou Bengals and lost 31-10, scoring their only touchdown in the fourth quarter and marking their third straight SEC loss of the season.
This year Auburn hosts LSU with a renewed hope. This may be Auburn's first real offensive test against an elite SEC defense. And if Auburn has losses to any of the SEC teams before the LSU game this will be a chance for them to get back into the hunt.
LSU's record may have taken a beating also, as they would have played North Carolina, Mississippi State, West Virginia and Florida before this date. Both teams could possibly need a win in Jordan-Hare to salvage their season. Or both could be entering this game with 7-0 records.
Week 9: Georgia vs. Florida
If you're not watching the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" on October 30, 2010, then you're not watching football.
And this year the game may mean something. Georgia hopes to be contenders for the SEC East title, but to get there they have to first get through Florida. Both teams may very well enter this game with one loss apiece. If that's the case then the winner will be able to write their own ticket to Atlanta, a place UGA would love to be in 2010.
The "Gator Stomp" of 2007 should still be fresh in the mind of Urban Meyer, who wrote in his authorized biography, "That wasn't right. It was a bad deal. It will forever be in the mind of Urban Meyer and in the mind of our football team. We'll handle it, and it's going to be a big deal."
Week 10: Alabama vs. LSU
Saban Bowl IV. LSU fans worse nightmare.
Les Miles, who has received much fan criticism, needs this win badly. Everything he does is now compared to Nick Saban's success. Even his 2007 National Championship has been credited to Nick Saban's coaching and recruiting prowess.
This is the first match-up while both coaches are fielding mostly their own recruits. This could also be a factor in who represents the SEC West in the SECCG.
Last year LSU had a chance to go to Atlanta with a win over Alabama, but the Crimson Tide beat the Tigers into submission. This year the Tigers hope it goes the other way. Home field advantage has never been more important than when these two teams meet.
Week 11: Georgia vs. Auburn
Pride is at stake in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Auburn leads the series by one game, 53-52-8. Georgia has won the last four however and this year we find Auburn fearing the thumb.
Both teams will be sporting a re-tooled offense this year. Both teams feel they can vie for their divisional championship. Both teams want nothing more on this day than to win.
Auburn's chance of representing the West, and Georgia's chances of representing the East, may hinge on this game. And both could meet up again in Atlanta if their season goes as well as some fans expect.
Week 12: Ole Miss vs. LSU
Thanks to Les Miles' clock management skills last season this year's Magnolia Bowl will be much more interesting. This game would be a classic if it comes down to one team scoring in the final seconds.
There will be no redemption for Les Miles and the LSU Tigers in this game. The way they conducted the play calling in last season's match-up is in the books for good.
But that is the only reason this is the match-up to watch for Week 12. That plus it's a pretty slow day as far as SEC Football is concerned.
Week 13: Auburn vs. Alabama
Week 13 is always a great week for college football in the SEC. There's Arkansas vs. LSU, Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss, Florida vs. Florida State, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Clemson vs. South Carolina, but nothing tops Auburn vs. Alabama.
After winning six straight Iron Bowls, Auburn finds themselves on a two game losing streak. This year they find themselves facing the reigning National Champions in newly expanded, 100,000+ seats Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Nick Saban is 2-1 against Auburn as Alabama's head coach and wants to extend that in 2010. Everybody knows the importance of this game. In Alabama your season is made or broken with the results of the Iron Bowl. Coaches are sometimes fired, even after winning seasons, if they cannot win in the Iron Bowl.
This is by far the best rivalry in college sports.