The Southeastern Conference had a chance to do something very unique with its schedule in a year where nearly everything has been turned upside down and inside out.
The SEC just means more so the slogan and marketing says, but it also means tradition to many fans. Prior to the official announcement, there was a lot of speculation about the possibility of rivalry week for the first week. With nothing guaranteed, scheduling rival games right off the bat would help eliminate the break downs of fan bases if they were unable to watch their team beat its most hated rival due to a mid-season cancellation (e.g. Mississippi State fans.)
However, instead of switching things up and straying from the norms, the SEC schedulers hand picked the most boring slate of games possible for week one.
Here is the opening day schedule in case you missed it:
ALABAMA @ MISSOURI
FLORIDA @ OLE MISS
GEORGIA @ ARKANSAS
KENTUCKY @ AUBURN
MISS ST. @ LSU
TENNESSEE @ S. CAROLINA
VANDERBILT @ TEXAS A&M
When you look at this schedule, it’s pretty easy to predict the outcomes. While the odds aren’t in their favor, there are still four games that could potentially be shocking, and exciting. Four of the most powerful programs in football are playing four new head coaches in its opening games.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Arkansas coaching staffs are all dying to play spoiler and send a few shockwaves through the SEC. While it is (very) unlikely, I am eager to see which team pulls it off.
Florida at Ole Miss
The “glass half full” in me wholeheartedly believes Florida will not beat Ole Miss. Numerous starters have opted out or hinted at it, and when asked about these players on Monday afternoon, Kiffin said “It would be great if those players decided to opt out.” Ole Miss also has the added benefit of a 25% capacity home field advantage and a pretty solid record in the Vaught against Dan Mullen. In his nine years at State, Mullen was only successful at Ole Miss in 2015. If there is a College Gameday this season, this game could be the place to be with Kiffin’s return to the SEC against a top ten team.
MSU at LSU
It’s tough to imagine a more entertaining Saturday afternoon than Mike Leach and Ed Orgeron battling out for who can sweat more down in Death Valley. LSU is going to be starting this season with the secondary team from last year’s team + Ja’Marr Chase. They are bringing in a new quarterback, but fans will undoubtedly dwell too much on the memory of Joe Burreaux. This is where Leach can step up and handle business.
Alabama at Missouri
Historically speaking, if you’re going to beat Alabama, you’ll have to do it early on in the season. But with that being said, Eliah Drinkwitz is just not going to beat Nick Saban, even if they do have home field advantage. I just can’t imagine Alabama losing to Missouri in the opening game. Sorry to be a hater.
Georgia at Arkansas
My condolences go out to any Arkansas football fans. You first had to go to Arkansas for school, and then the SEC just did you so dirty with the announcement of your schedule. In my humble opinion, they have the hardest schedule in college football, if not possibly of all time. I want them to beat Georgia, along with every team after that save Ole Miss. We could all use a little inspiration from the underdog, right?
Kentucky at Auburn
The best game in week one will be Kentucky at Auburn in terms of competition. The last time these two teams played each other was in 2015. Auburn was able to squeeze by with a 30-27 win, and I imagine it will be a similar match-up in 2020. Gus Malzahn will most likely be going with the “let’s just have Bo Nix run the team and hope we don’t lose to Alabama mentality.” While Auburn usually doesn't lose to teams they are expected to beat, Kentucky could be the exception. With one of the most underrated running backs in the SEC, Kentucky and Kavosiey Smoke (all-name team Hall of Famer) could have exactly what it takes to put the nail in the coffin on this already weakened Auburn defense.
I’m looking forward to a few upsets, a whole lot of anger, and hopefully a full season of football. 32 days until kickoff... fingers aggressively crossed.