While the SEC is arguably the deepest conference in college
football, and with marquee games between the schools seemingly every week, here’s a look at the top five non-conference games that feature an SEC team
Note: I have omitted
long-standing rivalry games such as Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech and
South Carolina-Clemson in these rankings.
LSU at Syracuse
Carrier Dome – Syracuse, NY
September 26, 2015
In the early 2000s, this could have been a marquee
matchup. Now, it is just a trap game for
the Bayou Bengals. Syracuse is just
aiming to be mediocre coming off of a 3-9 (1-7 ACC) season. Will the Orange faithful show up for an early
season tilt against a SEC powerhouse? No one knows. As Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse Post-Standard
accepted for a good, long while that a fair amount of our citizens regularly
choose to pick apples or seal driveways rather than head to the Carrier Dome to
watch the Syracuse University Orangemen at play.”
Not exactly a
ringing endorsement of a fan base. LSU
pounds the Orange big time.
BYU vs. Missouri
Arrowhead Stadium –
Kansas City, MO
November 14, 2015
Both teams will
know exactly what they are made of when this late-season matchup arrives. BYU will boast a powerful offense with senior
quarterback Taysom Hill at the helm.
Mizzou will have to find a replacement for defensive ends Markus Golden
and Shane Ray. The Tigers will have a
home field advantage and quarterback Maty Mauk is back. Mizzou wins by ten or more.
No. 5 – North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Bank of America
Stadium – Charlotte, NC
September 3, 2015
How good will these
two teams be this year? The Tar Heels
have 10 offensive starters back from a 6-7 team and a new defensive coordinator
in Gene Chizik. The Gamecocks, after
years of nine to 10 win seasons, suffered six losses in 2014 and are in search
of a full-time quarterback. Spurrier has
built USC into a SEC East contender, but will have to rely on some young guys
coming through. This could be an
extremely interesting game that jump starts one of the teams to a good
season. When in doubt, I am going with
the Ole Ball Coach. South Carolina wins
No. 4 – Oklahoma at Tennessee
Neyland Stadium –
September 12, 2015
There hasn’t been
this much hype about an upcoming football season in Knoxville since Peyton
Manning was quarterback. Butch Jones has
the Volunteers faithful excited about becoming a contender again, and it starts
with this game against Oklahoma. Bob
Stoops comes in with a team that, while still good, is not the national title
contender the Sooners are used to seeing year after year. With over 100,000 orange-clad fans ready to
rock, will quarterback Joshua Dobbs and the Vols’ strong defensive line be able
to get Jones’ his first signature win in Rocky Top? I doubt it.
Oklahoma wins by a touchdown.
which fight song will the TV viewer tire from first: Boomer Sooner, or Rocky
No. 3 – Wisconsin vs. Alabama
AT&T Stadium –
September 5, 2015
The Badgers open
their second straight season in the state of Texas against a SEC
powerhouse. Gone are Heisman finalist
Melvin Gordon, three offensive linemen and coach Gary Andersen. Fifth-year senior quarterback Joel Stave
returns and will go against Alabama’s shaky secondary. Alabama lost their quarterback and top three
receivers, including All-American Amari Cooper, but the Tide is still loaded with
talent. Jake Coker will likely be the
starting quarterback, and with nine months to prepare for Wisconsin’s rushing
attack, expect Nick Saban and Kirby Smart to design a good game plan to stop
it. Alabama wins by two touchdowns.
No. 2 – Louisville vs. Auburn
Georgia Dome –
September 5, 2015
Gus Malzahn vs.
Bobby Petrino. This game is a battle
between offensive-minded coaches. Auburn
enters the 2015 season with high expectations, as quarterback Jeremy Johnson
has the potential to be great. A trio of
running backs – Roc Thomas, Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber – will provide a
punch in the backfield, and senior wide receiver Duke Williams could possibly
be the best receiver in college football.
Auburn’s defense should be improved under new defensive coordinator Will
Muschamp. Louisville returns a major
part of their front seven that played a part in the Cardinals’ defense
finishing in the Top 10 nationally last year.
The offense, though, is a work in progress. Reggie Bonnafon should be named the starter,
but is getting competition from three other guys. The Cardinals also lost their top three
Will Auburn live up
to preseason expectations? I think
so. Auburn wins by 17.
No. 1 – Arizona State vs. Texas A&M
NRG Stadium –
September 5, 2015
The Sun Devils
bring in a talented but unproven quarterback in Mike Bercovici against an Aggie
defense that hasn’t been good against the pass the last few years. Exit Mark Snyder, and enter John Chavis as
defensive coordinator. The Aggies will
score some points, as quarterback Kyle Allen returns from a successful freshman
season. Will they be able to stop their
opponents is what everyone wants to see.
With the 12th Man behind them at close-by Houston, I predict the Aggies
winning a high-scoring affair.