As we inch closer to the start of the season, it’s time to review the schedules of every SEC team.
Whether it’s home vs. road, nonconference matchups or potential trap games, there’s a lot to get into.
We start the series with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Nonconference opponents (with 2015 record)
Sept. 3: vs. USC (8-6) in Arlington, Texas
Sept. 10: vs. Western Kentucky (12-2)
Sept. 24: vs. Kent State (3-9)
Nov. 19: vs. Chattanooga (9-4)
SEC home games
Oct. 1: Kentucky
Oct. 22: Texas A&M
Nov. 12: Mississippi State
No. 26: Auburn
SEC road games
Sept. 17: Ole Miss
Oct. 8: Arkansas
Oct. 15: Tennessee
Nov. 5: LSU
Gut-check time: There won’t be much time for celebration if Alabama beats USC in the opener. After a quick tune-up against Western Kentucky, the Tide must go on the road to Ole Miss, which has won the last two meetings between the teams. And we all know what happened the last time the Tide traveled to Oxford -- a late touchdown gave Ole Miss the lead, and an interception in the end zone sealed the historic win. Fans rushed the field, the goal posts were torn down and marched about town, and the Rebs landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated -- a feat they repeated last season when they won a shootout in Tuscaloosa. Now the Tide will be out for revenge against another talented Ole Miss team, which returns 4,000-yard passer Chad Kelly.
Trap game: Without Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans, Texas A&M hasn’t been competitive against Alabama, losing its last two games against the defending SEC champs by a combined score of 100-23. But don’t count out the Aggies just yet. Alabama’s Oct. 22 date at home with them could be tricky, seeing as it comes at the end of a five-game stretch against SEC opponents, the last two of which are on the road against Arkansas and Tennessee. With Alabama returning for some home cooking and a bye week on the horizon and LSU to follow, A&M could catch the Tide sleeping. What’s more, the Aggies will be led by former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight, one of only two active QBs to beat Alabama.
Final analysis: Somehow Alabama always times its marquee nonconference games just right. Just look at Virginia Tech in 2013, West Virginia in 2014 and Wisconsin in 2015. While they were all perennially powerful programs, none were near the height of their powers at game time. Wisconsin, for instance, was without star running back Melvin Gordon and had a new coach in Gary Anderson last year. And this time it’s more of the same against USC, which has an inexperienced head coach in Clay Helton and an unresolved quarterback situation. Nonetheless, it’s the chance for a signature nonconference win, which is good come playoff time, and the opportunity to build confidence heading into a difficult early-season game against Ole Miss. The trickiest part about Alabama’s schedule is the home-road split. It very well could end up that every road games features a ranked opponents and home is vice versa.