Livescore Friday, April 12
Newsletter

With the Big Ten (USC and UCLA) and SEC (Texas and Oklahoma) preparing to add two members to their respective leagues in 2024, it is apparent the old way of scheduling conference games by divisions just won’t work anymore. While the SEC recently settled on a stopgap eight-game conference slate for the 2024 season, the Big Ten seems to have found a long-term solution. The league announced 11 rivalry games will have “protected” status in its “Flex Protect Plus” model, which will help ensure that all teams play one another at least once every two years. 

Sure, settling on a coherent nine-game model was simpler for the Big Ten since it was already playing nine league games before the additions of the Bruins and Trojans. Still, the SEC could learn a thing or two from the Big Ten’s announcement as it mulls over a long-term scheduling structure.

What would a potential SEC schedule look like if it adopted the Big Ten’s new format? Below is a projection for the 2024 and 2025 seasons within a nine-game model. For this exercise, we protected 11 rivalries and included “two-play” opponents, just like the Big Ten. “Two plays” essentially serve as a home-and-home between conference opponents over the 2024 and 2025 seasons and will change every two years — meaning teams will have different “two plays” for the 2026 season — so that every team faces each other at least twice over a four-year period. 

Teams in italics are permanent rivals | Teams with asterisks (*) are “two play” opponents

Alabama

Auburn
Tennessee
Ole Miss*

Breakdown: Some of the holdup on moving to a nine-game SEC schedule with three permanent opponents seems to be Alabama’s reluctance to accept a format that would require it to play Auburn, Tennessee and LSU each season. In this scenario, Auburn and Tennessee remain permanent rivals, but LSU falls off. Ole Miss is a fun “two-play” partner since the Nick Saban vs. Lane Kiffin coaching matchup makes for good entertainment.

Arkansas

LSU
Oklahoma*
Texas A&M*

Breakdown: The battle for the Golden Boot remains intact while Arkansas begins with “two-play” dates against regional foes Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Auburn

Alabama
Georgia
Mississippi State*

Breakdown: Alabama and Georgia are obvious permanent rivals for Auburn because they are among the most storied rivalries in the conference. However, it’s a brutal draw given how dominant those squads are. To compensate, a Mississippi State program that should be among the most beatable in the conference starts out as Auburn’s two-play partner.

Florida

Georgia
LSU
Kentucky*

Breakdown: Georgia is an obvious permanent rival for Florida, and LSU also makes the cut since that series has been among the conference’s most entertaining in recent seasons. Since those two permanent foes are among the conference’s best, the Gators get what should be a manageable game against Kentucky for two straight seasons.

Georgia

Auburn
Florida
South Carolina*

Breakdown: Auburn and Florida are must-haves on the schedule for Georgia. Regionally speaking, playing South Carolina as a two-play partner makes sense. You never know when the Gamecocks might pull a stunner like they did in 2019.

Kentucky

South Carolina
Tennessee*
Florida*

Breakdown: In an effort to match The Big Ten’s total of 11 protected rivalries, Kentucky vs. South Carolina arbitrarily receives that designation. Both schools would be struggling to remain competitive in a 16-team SEC with nine league games, so we’ll throw them a bone and allow them to play each other every season.

LSU 

Arkansas
Florida
Ole Miss*

Breakdown: LSU vs. Auburn falls by the wayside since Auburn already has two protected rivalries. But the LSU-Florida series, which has been captivating in recent years, remains. Also, the Battle for the Golden Boot offers longtime SEC West foes Arkansas and LSU the chance to keep battling.

Ole Miss

Mississippi State
Alabama*
LSU*

Breakdown: The Egg Bowl is an absolute must. Playing Alabama and LSU as “two-play” partners to begin is a little tough, but Ole Miss is used to playing those teams every season already.

Mississippi State

Ole Miss
Texas A&M*
Auburn*

Breakdown: The only must-have annual game for Mississippi State is Ole Miss. After that, traditional SEC West foes Auburn and Texas A&M begin as “two-play” partners.

Missouri

Oklahoma*
Texas*
Vanderbilt*

Breakdown: Missouri is the lone team that did not end up with a permanent rival in this exercise. Penn State was that team in the Big Ten, though you could have certainly argued that Ohio State and/or Michigan would have been worthy permanent opponents for the Nittany Lions. There is no such obvious partner for Missouri, which was an unnatural fit in the SEC East. It will be fun to see the Tigers square off against former Big 12 foes Texas and Oklahoma, though. 

Oklahoma

Texas
Arkansas*
Missouri*

Breakdown: The Red River Showdown is now under the SEC banner as the Sooners and Longhorns bring their longstanding feud to a new conference. Getting Arkansas on the schedule makes sense geographically, and it would be the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 1926.

South Carolina

Kentucky
Vanderbilt*
Georgia*

Breakdown: It’s not like Kentucky-South Carolina is some great rivalry. But the two teams have played every year since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992, and it’s a relatively even series with South Carolina holding an 18-13 edge over that time.

Tennessee

Alabama
Vanderbilt
Kentucky*

Breakdown: The “Third Saturday in October” meeting between the Volunteers and Crimson Tide has been put on the chopping block amid conference realignment, but this model allows for its preservation. As compensation for playing Alabama every season, the Volunteers will also play in-state foe Vanderbilt on an annual basis.

Texas

Oklahoma
Texas A&M
Missouri*

Breakdown: Yes, that’s right. Texas is playing Oklahoma and Texas A&M every season. The Aggies and Longhorns haven’t played since 2011, which was A&M’s final season in the Big 12. But what are we doing here if these distrusting in-state foes aren’t playing every season?

Texas A&M

Texas
Mississippi State*
Arkansas*

Breakdown: Texas A&M broke away from the Longhorns by moving to the SEC, and the school’s brass seems unenthused about Texas joining the conference. But these are the games that make college football special. They’re going to play each other again, regardless of the permanent format the SEC settles on. Might as well make it an annual game.

Vanderbilt

Tennessee 
Missouri*
South Carolina*

Breakdown: Tennessee is Vanderbilt’s only true rival. Though the Volunteers have regained their winning ways in the series, it wasn’t long ago that the Commodores ran off five wins in a seven-year period.



Read the full article here

Share.

Leave A Reply

© 2024 Grand Athlete. All Rights Reserved. Data powered by Oddspedia Oddspedia