We at the SEC blog love summer. Sand, pools and flip-flops make the world go round, but sometimes it just isn't enough.
Not with football season slowly creeping closer and closer to us. And what a fun opening week the SEC has in store for rabid football fans.
Four games will feature SEC teams playing out-of-conference opponents that finished the 2015 ranked in the AP Top 25, and there are a couple of other sneaky good nonconference games that should provide some compelling storylines for the league, as well.
Here are our rankings for the first 13 games of the season -- from Sept. 1 through Sept. 5 -- involving SEC teams:
1. Alabama vs. USC (in Arlington, Texas): Iconic programs, Hall of Fame coach versus the new head coach on the block, playoff indications and Jerry World's AT&T Stadium. Yeah, sure, that sounds like a great way to start off the season. -- Edward Aschoff
2. Ole Miss vs. Florida State (in Orlando, Florida): Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly against that defense should be worth the price of admission, but we also get Dalvin Cook against one of the best defensive lines in the SEC. -- Alex Scarborough
3. LSU vs. Wisconsin (in Green Bay, Wisconsin): LSU coach Les Miles and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda (former Wisconsin defensive coordinator) are back in Big Ten country at historic Lambeau Field. Miles' troops relish these prime-time, nonconference matchups. -- Aschoff
4. Clemson at Auburn: One group of Tigers is a favorite to reach the College Football Playoff and one is expected to finish in the middle of the pack of their division. One group of Tigers boasts a Heisman contender at quarterback and one doesn’t know who its quarterback is. You can guess which is which. -- Scarborough
5. UCLA at Texas A&M: The Aggies have a new offense, new offensive coordinator -- who just so happens to be UCLA's former OC! -- and new quarterback, while UCLA QB Josh Rosen could be the next great thing. There's pressure surrounding Kevin Sumlin, so this game is a huge first step for the Aggies in 2016. -- Aschoff
6. Georgia vs. UNC (in Atlanta): Welcome to life as a head football coach, Kirby Smart. Now in your debut, you’re expected to beat a perennial ACC contender. -- Scarborough
7. Missouri at West Virginia: This contest likely won't get much national publicity when you consider these teams won a combined 13 games last year, but this is the start of the Barry Odom era ... on the road ... in what should be a tough and fun environment. -- Aschoff
8. South Carolina at Vanderbilt: The Will Muschamp era begins on the road against a Vanderbilt team that might be the favorite, considering South Carolina’s questions at quarterback. -- Scarborough
9. Louisiana Tech at Arkansas: The Hogs want a faster start in 2016 compared to 2015, while Louisiana Tech is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons with bowl victories. -- Aschoff
10. Southern Miss at Kentucky: The Golden Eagles won four games from 2012-14, but former coach Todd Monken got the program back on track last year with a 9-5 record. Jay Hopson joins the Golden Eagles after four successful years at Alcorn State. -- Scarborough
11. Appalachian State at Tennessee: Is it too early to look ahead to the Vols’ Week 2 game against Virginia Tech at the race track in Bristol? We think not. -- Scarborough
12. UMass at Florida: This won't register much with any fans outside of either program, but at least we'll likely see the Gators throw the ball downfield more. -- Aschoff
13. South Alabama at Mississippi State: It's a snoozefest in Starkville, but these new-look Bulldogs officially begin life without Dak Prescott. -- Aschoff