Tagged with "Tennessee"
SEC Strength and Potential Bowls
Category: NCAA
Tags: LSU Alabama Arkansas Auburn Georgia Florida MISSISSIPPI ST. MISSOURI OLE MISS SEC SOUTH CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS A&M Kentucky
SEC teams on the map and the 12 likely SEC bowl locations. The gold stars are CFP bowls. An SEC team in such a bowl could also go to Miami (off the map).

SEC teams on the map and the 12 likely SEC bowl locations. The gold stars are CFP bowls. An SEC team in such a bowl could also go to Miami (off the map).

I donít like to post something on the same day as a major game, but the Pac-12 championship doesnít really affect what Iím talking about here. I do think the Pac-12 is pretty strongly the second-best conference, and I believe a 2-loss champion (if Arizona wins) is probably good enough to be in the top four, as I mentioned in my rankings blog. Anyway, my feeling on the conference does not change based on the outcome of that game.

I donít think last weekís SEC losses (all by the East) indicated the SEC West wasnít dominant. As mentioned, Georgia should have won anyway and Georgia Tech will be playing for the ACC title, so thatís not so bad of a result. Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina registered a combined 0 wins over the SEC West and were playing the other top 4 teams of the ACC. Given their relative position in the SEC, Georgiaís loss was the only one that I felt damaged the SEC overall.

Although it doesnít help in the overall record, I thought it was an encouraging sign that Kentucky, one of only two SEC teams who failed to make a bowl game, got close to beating a very good Louisville team on the road. Had the Wildcats won, they would have qualified for a bowl game as well.

The top three SEC West teams (Alabama, Mississippi St., and Ole Miss) did not lose any games to the SEC East this season. LSU finished tied for fourth (with Auburn) and also did not lose any. The only SEC West teams that lost games outside of the SEC West were the other three teams, and Georgia and Missouri were the only teams in college football to beat any of them.

There were a few really strong out-of-conference wins too. LSU beat Wisconsin, the top team of the Big Ten West (and it wouldnít shock me if the Badgers beat Ohio St.). Auburn, the other team who tied for fourth, beat Kansas St., which could tie for the Big XII by beating Baylor this weekend. Otherwise, they could be used as an argument to put Baylor in the top 4. West Virginia, losers to Alabama, beat Baylor and lost to TCU (another top-4 possibility) by one point. I also donít dismiss Ole Missís win over Boise St.

I still canít explain Missouriís loss to Indiana except that apparently when they play badly they really play badly. They also lost to Georgia 34-0. Thatís a very unusual result for two teams that compete with one another for a division title all year, especially being that the loser of that game won the division and lost no other conference games.

Georgia and Missouri will probably occupy the top two non-CFP Bowls for the SEC, which are the Outback and CapitalOne Bowls.

Most predictions Iíve seen place LSU against an ACC opponent in the Belk Bowl (in Charlotte), the TaxSlayer Bowl (known as the Gator Bowl), or the Music City Bowl. We could have a nice reunion with former SEC West head coaches Bobby Petrino or David Cutcliffe, for instance. Not sure if ďniceĒ and ďPetrinoĒ belong in the same sentence, except in the sense that competitive teams are nice to watch.

The Big XII or Big Ten could also provide an opponent for LSU.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN changed his prediction of the Texas Bowl from Texas vs. Texas A&M (which has been widely predicted) to Texas vs. LSU. I wouldnít have a problem with that as an LSU fan; but as a general fan of the sport, I want to see that Texas/Texas A&M game. Iíd rather have a chance to beat a slightly better team than the Longhorns though. A Longhorn site is saying the SEC wonít allow such a game, but Iíve also heard from many neutral sources over the last couple of years it was Texas putting a stop to any game against the Aggies, so Iím skeptical.

Itís also possible the Gator Bowl could have a Big Ten team. Iíve seen Maryland and Minnesota suggested as possibilities within the last couple of weeks. Notre Dame was listed for that game at one point, but that was before they dropped the last two games.

Iím thinking what makes the most sense geographically would be Arkansas for the Independence Bowl, Tennessee for the Liberty Bowl, and South Carolina for the Music City Bowl. The Birmingham Bowl or Music City Bowl would also make sense for Tennessee, but then the Liberty Bowl or Independence Bowl could have less geographically favorable teams. LSU (I hope and most expect) will be a more highly-regarded team, as will the other top four teams on the SEC West, so it makes more sense for SEC East teams to travel slightly to the West.

I also mentioned in the previous blog that there may be three SEC West teams in the six major bowls (not counting the national-championship game).

If LSU does not go to the Belk Bowl, that would also be a good one for South Carolina, and maybe one of the others could grab Florida.

Speaking of LSU, I also wanted to mention Iím excited about the basketball team, but I might go into that more when there is a lag with the football games.

Mid-Week College Basketball Round Up - 12/4/19
Category: NCAA
Tags: CollegeBasketball BostonCollegeBasketball TennesseeLadyVols HartfordHawksWomensBasketball

Here's the latest results from the various college hoops teams that I follow.

Boston College Men - The Eagles improved to 3-3 on the season with a 79-61 victory over Marist. The team was led by Aaron Brown (19 points) and Dimitri Batten (17 points). The team got 9 points and a career high 9 assists from Olivier Hanlan. Patrick Heckmann added 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Photos from the game photo gallery of all four players are below (in order of mention above).

You can see game highlights below.

Catholic University - My former player Amber didn't see any action in her team's last two games, both losses. They lost 84-59 to the #1 ranked FDU-Florham and then dropped to 3-3 with a 67-59 loss to Susquehanna.

Hartford - The Hawks troubles continued as they closed out their road trip with a 49-43 loss to Dartmouth. The team shot just 14% from the floor in the first half of the game and that helped set off coach Jennifer Rizzotti. She got ejected with 7 seconds left in the first half. While Hartford outscored Dartmouth 24-17 in the second half, the rally fell short. They shot just 25.5% for the game.

Cherelle Moore had 12 points and 11 boards to lead the team while Amber Bepko added 11 points.

The Hawks are now 3-5.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - Tennessee suffered their first two game losing streak since December 2012 when they lost to Texas 72-59 to start off their week. The team shot just 35% for the game.

Bashaara Graves had a double double to lead UT with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Andraya Carter added 13 points and 7 boards. Jasmine Jones and Jordan Reynolds finished with 10 points apiece.

The Lady Vols got back on the winning side of things last night when they whalloped St. Francis (Pa.) 111-44. One stat that demonstrated just how dominant Tennessee was in the game was the rebounding. The Lady Vols held a 71-28 edge in that category..

Jaime Nared (pictured below 1st) scored 20 points to lead the offense. Jasmin Jones added 16 points and 8 boards while Cierra Burdick had 15 points and 10 boards. Bashaara Graves (pictured below 2nd)†scored 11 points and tallied 11 rebounds. Andraya Carter hit for 12 points and Alexa Middleton (pictured below 3rd) finished with 11 points and 7 rebounds.

(PHOTOS FROM TENNESSEE GAME PHOTO GALLERY)

Boston College Women - Thanks to the wonders of Internet technology, I watched the BC women play in the final of the Maine Black Bear Thanksgiving Tournament on Sunday. Sadly, what I saw was not a team that looks ready to compete in their conference schedule.

Despite outrebounding Maine 45-38 and leading by as many as 7 points during the course of the game, the Eagles ended up losing 69-64 in overtime. A big part of the loss was BC's seeming inability to defend Maine's three point shooting. The Black Bears went 10-30 from beyond the arc and each time they hit a shot, it looked to me as if the Eagles defenders were late getting to the shooter or didn't even bother.

The team's 22 turnovers led to 25 points for Maine.

BC shot just 28.6% in the second half of the game, and they were just 5-12 from the foul line. Sloppy defense overall and terrible passing made it painful to watch the game.

Kelly Hughes scored 16 points to lead the Eagles. She and Emilee Daley (10 points) were named to the All-Tournament team. Karima Gabriel looked good in the early going and she finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Nicole Boudreau finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Ashley Kelsick grabbed 7 boards but led the team with 5 turnovers as well.

A brief recap on the game with coach Erik Johnson afterwards can be seen below.

On Monday, coach†Johnson had his weekly press conference and you can see that below.

Then came last night's game against Indiana in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge series. The Eagles trailed most of the game, rallied to make things close but ended up falling short 76-67. Kelly Hughes again led the team as she scored 10 points to go with 8 rebounds. Karima Gabriel also scored 10 points. Kat Cooper (pictured below 1st) had 9 points and a season high 8 rebounds while Nicole Boudreau (pictured below 2nd) scored 9 points and had 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

(Photos from BC Game Photo Gallery)

The Eagles are now 4-3 on the season.

Postgame pressers from the coach and Nicole Boudreau are below.

Mid-Week College Basketball Update 11/20/14
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA CollegeBasketball BostonCollegeEaglesBasketball TennesseeLadyVols MissouriStateBearsWomensBasketball HartfordHawksWomensBasketball

Because there will always be a huge amount of college basketball recaps and news to talk about in any given week, I'm going to try to post a mid-week blog entry to keep things a bit lighter in my Sunday Musings column.

Before I get into talking about the specific teams I follow, here's an in-depth look†at Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein.

Also, Mount Saint Joseph University's Lauren Hill has now raised $324,000 for cancer research.

Catholic University - The Division 3 school in Washington, DC has one of my former players on the team this season. Her name is Amber and this is her freshman year. Here's her pic from her player profile page on the team's web page:

The team has played three games so far this year. They beat Messiah 57-46 and St. Mary's (Md.) 66-47 in games that Amber didn't play. She played in the third game, their first loss of the season (63-36 to Salisbury). She saw 3 minutes of playing time but didn't make an impact on the stat line.

Boston College Men - The Eagles led by 8 points at halftime in their game against UMass but gave up 47 2nd half points to the Minutemen and lost 71-62. The loss evened their record at 1-1.

UMass had a field day at the foul line. They hit 31 out of 46 attempts. Boston College was 17-27. Strangely enough, UMass failed to hit any of the 3 shots from three point range. BC was 5-21 from long range. The Eagles also committed 18 turnovers (Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann had 6 TOs apiece).

Hanlan (pictured below)†led the Eagles with 18 points. Aaron Brown added 12 points. Heckmann scored 7 points and led BC with 8 rebounds.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - Tennessee rolled to 2-0 with a 91-39 blowout victory over Oral Roberts.

The Lady Vols got 21 points from Ariel Massengale (pictured below)†and 20 points from Nia Moore. Moore, who added 9 rebounds, has gotten a little early season buzz thanks to her strong offensive performances in the team's first two games.

Bashaara Graves had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Kortney Dunbar scored 10 points and grabbed 6 points. Jordan Reynolds (pictured below)†finished with 5 points, 7 assists and 7 steals.

(Photos from UT Game Photo Gallery)

Hartford - The Hawks improved to 2-0 with their 75-63 defeat of Central Connecticut. Amber Bepko scored 20 points (the fifth 20 point performance of her career) to lead Hartford. Deanna Mayza had 10 points and Cherelle Moore finished with 8 points and a team high 8 rebounds.

Missouri State - The Lady Bears dropped their second consecutive game to start the season. They lost to Arkansas-Little Rock 61-48 despite a 19 point performance from Kenzie Williams.

The team shot just 3-11 from the foul line and saw their 27 turnovers turned into 28 points for Arkansas-Little Rock.

Freshman Liza Fruendt had 14 points and Hillary Chvatal (2 points) grabbed a career high 11 rebounds.

Boston College Women - †Before their second game of the season, the BC women had a walkthrough session.

The women's team found themselves down by 13 points during the game but they ended up rallying back and captured their first victory of the season 82-72 over St. Mary's (Ca.). The Eagles 11-38 three point shooting was a big factor in their win.

The team's offensive attack was keyed by Kelly Hughes (see photo below of her on defense). She scored a career high 24 points and added 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Nicole Boudreau added 15 points and 9 boards.

(Photo from St. Mary's Game Photo Gallery)

Kat Cooper (pictured below) added 13 points and 6 rebounds.

Ashley Kelsick†(pic below 1st)†added 8 points and Karima Gabriel (pic below 2nd)†chipped in with 7 points and 6 boards.

(All other photos from BC Facebook Photo Gallery)

Here's a brief video of coach Erik Johnson talking about the win.

By the way, Kelly Hughes joined men's basketball player Olivier Hanlan being honored as Eagles of the Week.

LSU Football: The Big Picture
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN FLORIDA FLORIDA ST. LSU MIAMI MICHIGAN MISS ST. NEBRASKA OHIO ST. OKLAHOMA OREGON TENNESSEE TEXAS

I had a couple more LSU thoughts. I never fully process everything the first night. As you may know, LSU has not had an undefeated season since 1958. Now that Iíve seen two national championships, really my long-term hope as a fan is to see another, so the first loss will always be somewhat frustrating.

There has been a game or two every season going back as long as I remember where I get intensely frustrated with the coaches and so forth. I was going to detail several of them, but I decided it would be pointless griping to do so. Hopefully it wonít happen again this season even if there are losses. I think I gave an adequate explanation of why I felt that way in the post-game blog.

I do have some hope that this season can turn out well. Some of the prognosticators have already written LSU off as a contender, but how many one-loss teams have been written off for the two-team playoff (aka BCS) only to come back into the picture or even to play in the title game? There was a one-loss team just about every year.

Of course, in 2007 we had a one-loss team many did write off at #1 (Ohio St.) and a two-loss team at #2 (LSU) going into the championship. If they have to finish with one loss to make the playoff, that means they have to win nine in a row to do so. I certainly wouldnít put money on that, but I would be less surprised by that than I was by everything that happened in the 2011 calendar year.

Les Miles and LSU after the Tigers won the SEC Championship in 2011.

Les Miles and LSU after the Tigers won the SEC Championship in 2011.

To paraphrase the Mark Twain quote, the reports of LSUís long-term demise are greatly exaggerated.

Iím not worried about it yet. The last time I was worried about it was 2009 when LSU lost to Houston Nuttís unranked Ole Miss Rebels. Disastrous time management and Les Milesí instructing quarterback Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball had caused time to run out on LSUís final possession at the Ole Miss 6-yard line (Final score: Ole Miss 25, LSU 23), not that they really deserved to win anyway. That was LSUís 8th loss in 20 games. Rather than spiraling downward from there, LSU has gone 47-10 since the 2009 season ended. If youíre winning over 80% playing the type of competition LSU typically plays, youíre doing something right.

However, a long-term decline is inevitable. I donít think a single early-season loss to a veteran dual-threat quarterback is a sign itís all going to hell in a hand-basket, but at some point LSU is not going to be a serious title threat for a while. It will even happen to Alabama. Saban may have to retire, but it will happen. It wasnít that long ago that Alabama had no serious national-title-contending teams for a decade or so. When they did win in 1992, it was their first national championship since 1979.

Anyway, if LSU has peaked, it has still been a period of success to be extremely proud of. Compare the Tigers to other top programs from around 2003 (the year of LSUís first national championship since that 1958 undefeated team I mentioned).

Seasons with losses of four games or more since 2003 (inclusive):
LSU 2, with two BCS championships, one runner-up in the same period.
Ohio St. 2, with two BCS runners-up
Oklahoma 2, with one BCS runner-up
Oregon 4, with one BCS runner-up
USC 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up (and one AP title)
Texas 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida 5, with two BCS championships
Auburn 6, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida St. 7, with one BCS championship
Michigan 7
Miami 8
Nebraska 9

LSU has won two national championships since the last time either Oklahoma or Ohio St. won one, so I wouldnít switch places with them either.

Tennessee had won a national championship in 1998, just 5 years before LSU won in 2003, but the Vols havenít had a season with fewer than four losses since 2004. They had a decent run in 2007, but the loss to LSU in the SEC championship game (after Les Miles told everyone to have a great day) was Tennesseeís fourth. Thatís certainly an example of a program I hope LSU is not similar to in the foreseeable future.

Alabama wasnít really a relevant team in the early 2000s, but theyíve had 4 seasons with four losses or more in case you wanted to know, all from 2003 to 2007. Of course, since then the Tide has had three BCS championships and two Sugar Bowl berths.

Tennessee and Alabama were the only programs that won a major national title from 1992 forward that I did not include on the list above. I included Oregon, which hasnít won any, but they arguably should have made the BCS championship game in 2001 and have been a consistently strong program since, so I thought they deserved inclusion.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.

Final Preseason Thoughts: College Football Playoff and SEC scheduling
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARKANSAS AUBURN COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA GEORGIA KENTUCKY LSU MISS ST. MISSOURI OLE MISS S CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS A&M

The blog is in two parts today (this was originally posted yesterday, and I wrote it all before any games took place if you're wondering about the title). The first is about more information Iíve learned about the college football playoff (CFP) and the rankings system, including information the committee will access and conference tiebreakers. The second part is a general response to the constant attacks on SEC schedules. I donít know how people forget about some of these games just because there is a Sun Belt or FCS team on the schedule in the same season, but Iíll talk more about that in that section.

New symbol for the new system , but no one is quite sure how it will work in practice.

New symbol for the new system , but no one is quite sure how it will work in practice.

Part I: CFP, tiebreakers, and statistical analysis

I was reading about how the CFP are going to work, and theyíre actually going to be over two days, so they wonít have results until Tuesday. Usually you at least had a good idea of the BCS on Sunday, so that will take an adjustment. Maybe more people will look at things like computer ratings while theyíre waiting. I was thinking computer ratings might decline drastically without the BCS, but now Iím not so sure. There is, after all, a lot of interest in various RPI and similar measures in college basketball.

You can read this for the voting procedure, but I donít know how illuminating it is:http://www.collegefootballplayoff.com/press-releases/college-football-playoff-releases-details-of-selection-committee-procedures
One of those adjustments is the SEC will have to look for a different option to determine a divisional champion in the event of a three-way tie. The Mountain West is still apparently planning to use the CFP to determine home-field advantage for its championship, but Iím not sure about tie-breakers. Also, the Big XII will use the final rankings before the bowls to determine who gets the championship designation in the event of a tie. These procedures donít have to be in place at the start of the season; but if there has been a final decision, I have not seen it. The SEC first decided to use the BCS for a three-way tie in late October, early November one year.

One option the SEC is considering is to compare the strengths of the inter-divisional games. I think this would only be if there is a three-way tie where all three teams beat one of the other teams in the tie, and all three teams had the same divisional record. For instance, letís say LSU but beats Auburn and Alabama, Auburn loses to Ole Miss, and Alabama loses to Auburn, and all three finish 7-1 in conference. LSU would make the title game both for best divisional record and for winning head-to-head. If you make it so LSU beats Auburn, who beats Alabama, who beats LSU (which is what we had last year, except in this scenario LSU doesnít lose to anyone else), then they would remain tied through both of the steps I mentioned. So only then would you look at teams outside the division. I would hope they would look at divisional record of the better team first, but it may just be adding up the records of the two teams.

I read something else about things the committee could consider that I found interesting:
ďYou make more big plays than your opponent, you stay on schedule, you tilt the field, you finish drives, and you fall on the ball. Explosiveness, efficiency, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers are the five factors to winning football games.
ē If you win the explosiveness battle (using [points per possession]), you win 86 percent of the time.
ē If you win the efficiency battle (using Success Rate), you win 83 percent of the time.
ē If you win the drive-finishing battle (using points per trip inside the 40), you win 75 percent of the time.
ē If you win the field position battle (using average starting field position), you win 72 percent of the time.
ē If you win the turnover battle (using turnover margin), you win 73 percent of the time.Ē
Source:http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2014/07/22/the-role-analytics-will-play-in-choosing-the-college-football-playoffs/

Something worth reading from the Washington Post. Wonders never cease. Anyway, if you donít know, success rate is measured by how often you have a successful down. A typical team has about a 40% success rate. A success is getting 50% or more of the required yardage on first down (for instance, 5 yards on 1st and 10), 70% or more on second down (7 yards on 2nd and 10), and 100% on third and fourth down. Success rate stops counting success if a team is up by more than 28 in the first quarter, 24 in the second quarter, 21 in the third quarter, or 16 in the fourth quarter.

I got that information from here:http://www.footballstudyhall.com/2011/3/15/2050106/the-toolbox-offensive-success-rates

Thatís a really useful metric. Since teams usually alternate possessions, I donít think the first one is as helpful in analyzing teams even though itís a better predictor on average.

For another aside, I found it odd that when I was reading about the playoff, I came across this quote from Lloyd Carr: ďI would hope no conference would have two teams in the four.Ē

Interesting coming from the guy who was all irritated he didnít get a re-match in the BCS title game against the same team he had just lost to. Could you imagine having had Auburn replay Alabama last year? That would have been ridiculous. I even thought it was questionable when Alabama played LSU, and no, that wasnít because of the result. At least it wasnít the final game for either team though.

Four times in the past five years, the final BCS standings did have a second SEC team in the top four, just so you know. Not that Iím likely to complain much if another team (especially a conference champion) were selected over a borderline second team from the SEC though.

Part II: Recent SEC Non-conference Schedules

Also, I wanted to talk about SEC non-conference schedules. Why is it that if you play four teams out-of-conference and three of them go to bowl games, people pretend you didnít play anyone and just mention the fourth team? Something like, ďtypical SEC, lol, Charleston Southern.Ē

I also noticed that last year, for instance, SEC teams played 1.5 games out of conference against BCS opponents (the automatic-bid conferences + Notre Dame) to the Pac-12ís 1.25. Granted, the SEC has an additional non-conference slot, but thatís part of the point I brought up last week. Even if you schedule well with your three games, you necessarily hurt competition between conferences and reduce the interesting non-conference games by increasing the conference schedule from 8 games to 9 games. I wonder if thatís part of the reason other conferences want the SEC to do that. There would then be a fewer sample of games to justify the SEC being superior to other conferences, and that assertion would be more subjective.

Anyway, to get to the specific teams, this season is a little unusual in some regards. Vanderbilt and Mississippi St. are both teams that typically have a decent opponent, but they donít this year. It might be in part to try to ensure bowl eligibility. The Bulldogs had to upset Ole Miss to get it last year.

Since 2002 (just seemed like a good spot, the last dozen seasons), Vanderbilt has played @Michigan, Navy (home and home), Gerogia Tech (home and home), Northwestern (home and home), @TCU, and Wake Forest (seven times, mix of home and away). Since 2002, Mississippi St. has played Oregon (home and home), Houston (three times), @West Virginia, Georgia Tech (home and home), and Oklahoma St. (neutral).

Going forward, Iím going to mention this season, followed by major games since 2002. There might be a couple of sentences after that, which Iím not claiming are great scheduling, but some of them only turned out not to be good due to luck.

Alabama plays West Virginia this year. The Tide has been having an easy time of things outside the division, but either Florida or Tennessee might have a good year. Since 2002, Alabama has played Oklahoma (home and home), South Florida, Northern Illinois (normally wouldnít count MAC teams, but that might be an exception), Penn St. (home and home), Clemson (neutral), Virginia Tech (twice, both neutral), Michigan (neutral), and Houston. They also played a really good Hawaii team and a couple of winning Southern Miss teams in that stretch, although the Golden Eagles and the Warriors were two of the worst teams last season.

Ole Miss plays Boise St. and ULL, which I normally wouldnít mention, but theyíve been good the last couple of years. Since 2002, Ole Miss has played Texas Tech (home and home). Texas (home and home), Missouri (home and home), Fresno St. (home and home), @Wake Forest, and BYU.

LSUís only big non-conference game this year is the opener against Wisconsin in Houston. Since 2002, LSU has played Virginia Tech (home and home), Arizona (home and home), Oregon St., @Arizona St., West Virginia (home and home), Washington (home and home), Oregon (neutral), North Carolina (neutral), and TCU (neutral). They also played Fresno St., but that was a bad year for the Bulldogs in 2006.

As an aside, someone mentioned LSU played ďeveryoneĒ one year. Iím not sure what season he had in mind. When they won the SEC in 2007, they didnít play either of the top SEC East teams during the regular season, but they did play Virginia Tech out of conference and three SEC East teams who went to bowl games. In 2011, they beat Oregon and West Virginia, but they didnít play Georgia until the championship game. Florida was the best regular-season SEC East opponent, but the Gators only went 7-6 that season.

Arkansas has been rightly criticized for some of its schedules lately, but this year they travel to Texas Tech and host Northern Illinois. Since 2002, Arkansas has played Boise St., South Florida, Texas (three times, two on the road), Tulsa (twice), USC (home and home), Texas A&M (home and home), and Rutgers (home and home).

Auburn travels to Kansas St. this year. Since 2002, the plains Tigers have played Syracuse, Georgia Tech (home and home). USC (home and home), Washington St. (twice), South Florida, West Virginia (home and home), Clemson (home and home and a third, neutral game), and the other leg of the Kansas St. home and home.

Since there is one in each division, Iíll address the two new teams in the transition between the divisions.Texas A&M isnít playing anyone to speak of, but they did recently schedule Arkansas when they were in the Big XII. Also, I think theyíve been more than willing to continue their series with Texas, so I donít completely blame them. But I will leave out their other recent opponents since they werenít SEC at the time. Missouriís game against Central Florida could be very interesting. The black and gold Tigers didnít really play anyone last season, but they did play Arizona St., Central Florida, and Syracuse in 2012, their first year in the SEC.

Tennessee travels to Oklahoma, and they shouldnít be expected to do much else, although their Utah St. (the opener) hasnít been bad. Since 2002, the Vols have played Miami (home and home), Fresno St., Notre Dame (home and home), Cal (home and home), UCLA (home and home), Oregon (home and home), Cincinnati, and North Carolina St. (neutral).

Other than Clemson, South Carolinaplays East Carolina this year. Since 2002, the Gamecocks have played Clemson (every year), Virginia (home and home; they werenít so bad 12 years ago), Central Florida (home and home), North Carolina (home and home), North Carolina St. (home and home), Navy, and East Carolina.

Kentuckyís only big non-conference game is Louisville, whom they have played every year. I think theyíre another program that doesnít want to miss out if they do have a shot at bowl eligibility. Since 2002, the Wildcats have only played Indiana (three times) to go along with the Cardinals. The Wildcats did draw a couple good ďGroup of FiveĒ teams, Kent in 2012 (finished with 11 wins), Central Michigan (finished with 10 wins in 2006), and Western Kentucky (finished with 8 wins in 2013 and with 7 in 2011).

Georgiaís big games out of conference are the opener against Clemson and Georgia Tech to end the regular season. Since 2002, in addition to Georgia Tech every year, they have played Clemson (three times), Boise St. (twice), and Oklahoma St. (home and home). They played four Pac-12 teams that finished with losing records: a pair of games (home and home) with both Arizona St. and Colorado. They also played two teams I notice that finished with 8 wins, Central Michigan and Troy.

This year, Floridaís only meaningful game is against Florida St., whom theyíve played every year as long as I remember. But I donít really blame the Gators, being that they have to play the SEC East, Alabama, and LSU. Alabama might be overrated and LSU might just be a regular top 25 sort of team, but I doubt Alabama, LSU, and Florida St. will all be disappointing. Thatís not to mention Georgia, South Carolina, and Missouri.

Since 2002 (in addition to Florida St.), Florida has played Miami (four times, not counting the bowl game of course, two home and homes), South Florida, and Bowling Green. In almost every year, Florida also ends up playing another winning team. Iíll give a few examples. Louisiana Tech went 7-4 in 2005, Southern Miss went 9-5 in 2006, Troy went 8-4 in 2007 (and 9-4 in 2009), Hawaii went 7-7 in 2008, and ULL went 9-4 in 2012.

Some of those lists are pretty impressive, some arenít so much; but I think the four teams who have annual rivalry games out of conference (South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky) deserve a little bit of slack. Also, Iíll admit that even the teams that have scheduled well will still typically have a couple easy wins per year. But the idea that the SEC is en masse avoiding all competition is mostly based on people trying to brush aside how strong the SEC is from year to year.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow my†wordpress site†or my page on†facebook.

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