The 2017 SEC football schedule was released earlier this week, so fans can go ahead and make reservations in Auburn, Athens, and every other town where hotel space is limited. It is also a chance to look at who has it easy next season, who will have the toughest stretch, and if you, as a season ticket holder, are getting screwed with a weak home schedule.
This season is still young, but why don’t we just take a look at how tough the respective schedules for next season measure up. Disagree? Take it up with me on Twitter. Think I have your team too high or too low? Give me your reasoning. Otherwise, this list is the end-all after a lot of formulas and calculations went into ranking it. (Note: no math went into this.)
Toughest Game: at Alabama
Cupcake: vs. Indiana State
Analysis: An opener in Atlanta against Georgia Tech could be difficult, and trips to Florida and Alabama are not an easy task. However, the East division lineup of Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, and Vanderbilt isn’t exactly fearsome.
13. Missouri TigersToughest Game: at Georgia
Cupcake: vs. Missouri State
Analysis: The Tigers have Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee on the schedule, but they all come to Columbia. The non-conference schedule of Missouri State, Purdue, Idaho, and at UConn should be a walk in the park. The only two true road tests are in Athens and the season-ending game in Fayetteville against Arkansas.
12. Ole Miss RebelsToughest Game (tie): at Alabama, at Auburn
Cupcake: vs. UT-Martin
Analysis: The road schedule is brutal, especially traveling to Alabama and Auburn in back-to-back weeks along with the Egg Bowl being in Starkville. The Rebels opponents from the East: Kentucky and Vanderbilt. That is the luck of the draw.
11. Georgia Bulldogs
Toughest Game: at Notre Dame
Cupcake: vs. Samford
Analysis: The opener against Appalachian State is no pushover, but then comes a trip to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish. Visits to Tennessee, Auburn, and Georgia Tech are also going to be difficult, while the Bulldogs' SEC home schedule of Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky is a laugher.
Cupcake: vs. Florida A&M (Little Rock, AR)
Analysis: How do you like this, Bret Bielema? Trips to Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU all come in a five-week span, while games against TCU and Texas A&M surround an open date on the third week of the season. The only tough SEC home game? Auburn on October 21.
Cupcake: vs. Alabama A&M
Analysis: Nothing comes easy for Vanderbilt, but the four-game stretch that includes Alabama, at Florida, Georgia, and then at Ole Miss is extremely scary. Non-conference opponents Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky aren’t exactly sure-wins, and a trip to Tennessee to end the season closes out a tough 2017 for the Commodores.
Cupcake: vs. Wofford
Analysis: Road games against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Georgia are no fun, and playing Clemson in the closer is tough. The Gamecocks miss Alabama and LSU from the West though, and get Arkansas and Florida at home.
Cupcake: vs. Northern Colorado
Analysis: The out-of-conference combination of Michigan and Florida State is scary, plus a trip to LSU and the annual game against Georgia in Jacksonville are always difficult. The Gators get Tennessee, Texas A&M and the Seminoles at home, though, and trips to Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky are nothing for the Gators to worry about.
Cupcake: vs. Eastern Kentucky
Analysis: Opening against Southern Miss is no easy task – the Golden Eagles beat Kentucky in Lexington to open this season – and closing with in-state rival makes for two tough non-conference games. The SEC home schedule is full, with Florida, Tennessee, and Ole Miss all visiting Commonwealth Stadium.
Cupcake: vs. Nicholls State
Analysis: The opener in the Rose Bowl against UCLA and quarterback Josh Rosen will be a tough way to start the season. The Aggies do get Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn at home, but trips to Florida, Ole Miss, and LSU will make like difficult for Kevin Sumlin and company.
Cupcake: vs. Mercer
Analysis: The Crimson Tide always get everyone’s best shot, and that will be true in the neutral-site opener against powerhouse FSU. Playing at Texas A&M, Mississippi State, and Auburn is tough road schedule to manage, but Alabama does get LSU and Ole Miss at home.
Cupcake: vs. Charleston Southern
Analysis: How about this SEC road schedule: at Georgia, at Auburn, at Texas A&M, and at Arkansas. That is a murderer’s row. The cowbells will be ringing loud in Starkville as well, as LSU, BYU, Alabama, and Ole Miss all come to Davis-Wade Stadium.
Cupcake: vs. Mercer
Analysis: The four-week stretch of at LSU, at Arkansas, and then at Texas A&M after a bye could spell doom for the Tigers. Don’t forget about that trip to Clemson in the second week either. The rivalry games between Georgia and Alabama are both in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
1. LSU TigersToughest Game: at Alabama
Cupcake: vs. UT-Chattanooga
Analysis: After the September 30 meeting against Troy, things get real, in a hurry for the Bayou Bengals. Home games against Florida and Auburn are followed by trips to Ole Miss and Alabama with a bye week in between. To close out the season, Arkansas visits Baton Rouge, the Tigers travel to Tennessee, and then end with Texas A&M.