Taking a look at the 10 SEC games to look forward to in 2017 as Alabama tries to once again defend its crown from the rest of the conference.
Let’s face it: 2016 was not a year that gave us a lot of classic SEC football games like in seasons past. Sure, the Tennessee Hail Mary to beat Georgia was stunning, and Florida’s win in Baton Rouge on a goal-line stand was thrilling, but the instantly memorable games just did not stand out.
Let’s hope that changes in 2017. Each week, there is an opportunity for another Kick Six, Run Lindsey Run, or Earthquake Game. With that said, let’s take a look at the ten conference games that everyone should look forward to as everything stands right now.
Arkansas at LSU (Saturday, Nov. 11) – The game between the Tigers and Razorbacks seems to usually end up being quirky, with upsets happening all the time. Can Bret Bielema go into Baton Rouge and defeat LSU for the second time in as many tries?
Kentucky at Georgia (Saturday, Nov. 18) – The Wildcats are going to be mentioned a lot as a dark horse candidate to win the SEC East, while Georgia will most likely enter the season as the favorite. With both teams playing non-conference games to end the season, this could be for a trip to Atlanta.
Top Ten SEC Football Games In 2017
10. Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thursday, Nov. 23) – The Egg Bowl will be fought for on Thanksgiving, as the Rebels try to win the trophy back after losing to quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs this past year. Ole Miss has a possible star under center in Shea Patterson, and beating Mississippi State in Starkville will only help grow the young legend. This rivalry has really intensified over the past several seasons.
9. Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Saturday, Sept. 23) – There’s a good chance that both coaches enter this conference matchup in Arlington on the hot seat. Both Kevin Sumlin and Bret Bielema have not lived up to expectations, and an early loss would fuel the fire even more. In a split AT&T Stadium, one coach will earn the right to breathe easier.
8. South Carolina at Georgia (Saturday, Nov. 4) – It will be a battle of young phenom quarterbacks as the Bulldogs’ Jacob Eason and Gamecocks’ Jake Bentley battle in their respective sophomore seasons. Don’t forget about the two head coaches involved: Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp are defensive minded, and this will be a hard hitting affair.
7. Florida at Kentucky (Saturday, Sept. 23) – If the streak – the Gators have won 30 straight in the series – is ever going to end, this could be Kentucky’s best shot. Mark Stoops returns a talented team led by running back Benny Snell Jr. and the Wildcats now have their eyes on a trip to Atlanta. If Florida is unable to find an effective quarterback before this game, Kentucky fans might be partying like it is 1986.
6. Georgia at Auburn (Saturday, Nov. 11) – The Bulldogs have won three straight against the Tigers, but this could be a totally different Auburn team with the arrival of quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The Tigers will have their hands full with the rushing duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, while Auburn trots out Kam Pettway. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is never boring.
5. LSU at Florida (Saturday, Oct. 7) – Some bad blood exists between these two teams (and athletic departments) after the rescheduling of this past season’s game due to Hurricane Matthew. The cross-divisional matchup was a thrilling one in 2016. Can they recreate the magic again in Gainesville? LSU running back Derrius Guice will have something to say about that.
4. Auburn at LSU (Saturday, Oct. 14) – Speaking of Guice, two of the best running backs in the nation will meet in this one as Pettway comes to Death Valley hoping to be the bigger and better Tiger. This rivalry has given us a lot of interesting moments, including the last-second non-touchdown for LSU in the loss to Auburn this past season that led to Les Miles’ dismissal. Overlooked going into this game: two excellent defenses. The loser of this one will have a lot of ground to make up for in the SEC West race.
3. Florida vs. Georgia (Saturday, Oct. 28) – The Gators and Bulldogs are expected to be battling for the divisional crown, and as usual, the road to Atlanta could be decided by the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Can the Gators stuff the Dawgs on the ground and make Eason beat them? Can the Dawgs stop a three-game losing streak to Jim McElwain’s team? One thing we know for sure: drinks will be had.
2. LSU at Alabama (Saturday, Nov. 4) – You know exactly what you are going to get when these two teams line up: hard-hitting action for 60 (or more) minutes and two or three plays that help determine the outcome. Both defenses pride themselves on winning in the trenches. This would be the top SEC football game to look forward to this season, except for …
1. Alabama at Auburn (Saturday, Nov. 25) – The Crimson Tide have won the Iron Bowl for three straight seasons since Chris Davis returned the missed field goal for 109 yards, but Auburn will enter the season with its most talented team since possibly 2010. Gus Malzahn needs another victory against Nick Saban to get the pressure off his back, and this one could help decide who plays for the SEC Championship … and beyond.