Reporting Matt Ryan
The first Saturday of the 2013 college football season is 100 days away. A Southeastern Conference school has won the national title for the last seven years and that number could soon reach eight. Alabama is favored by many to bring a third championship to Tuscaloosa in as many years, but the competition will be tough in a league that has at least a half dozen teams that could win it all. Here’s a look at ten matchups that could determine the outcome of the SEC and national title race.
September 7th: South Carolina @ Georgia
Last season, the Gamecocks extended their winning steak to a series-record third straight game in Columbia during a 35-7 rout. This will be the home opener for the Bulldogs, only a week after they open the season on the road against the Gamecock’s in-state rival – Clemson. Similar to the 2011 season, the fate of UGA’s season will be largely determined by the outcome of their first two games.
September 14th: Alabama @ Texas A&M
The only blemish during Alabama’s dominant national title run in 2012 was a 29-24 loss to newly-arrived Texas A&M. They will get their chance for a grudge match against Johnny Manziel and the Aggies on the road at Kyle Field. Whoever wins this game could be prime position for the top spot in the polls early on.
September 28th: LSU @ Georgia
No team will have a tougher start to the season than Mark Richt’s squad. UGA faces Palmetto State powers Clemson and South Carolina in their first two games and finishes September hosting LSU. The Bayou Bengals aren’t getting as much pre-season hype as they have been in recent years, but they are never an easy opponent to face home or away.
September 28th: Ole Miss @ Alabama
The Rebels are a team on the rise in 2o13, after finishing 7-6 and signing one of the the best recruiting classes in school history. Robert Nkemdiche and their other highly regarded freshman will get their chance to justify the hype, in Tuscaloosa against the twice-defending national champion Crimson Tide.
October 12th: Florida @ LSU
This cross divisional rivalry remains on the schedule, despite pleas from Les Miles for LSU to end the series. Florida wont surprising anyone this season, after going 11-2 in 2012.
November 2nd: Georgia vs. Florida
No matter good or bad these teams are, this matchup is arguably the most anticipated of the season for both fanbases. This Jacksonville showdown could once again be the de facto SEC East division title game.
November 9th: LSU @ Alabama
Ever since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, this has become one of the most watch games of the year. The last two regular season matchups in this series included, a defensive slugfest without touchdowns that needed extra time and a game winning score in the final minute of regulation. Hard to imagine Saban Bowl VIII being a letdown.
November 16th: Florida @ South Carolina
The Gamecocks 44-11 loss to the Gators in 2012 all but eliminated them from the national title hunt. The winner of this game could be playing in Atlanta, depending on how these teams play earlier in the year against the Georgia Bulldogs.
November 23rd: LSU @ Texas A&M
This could be a play-in for the SEC Championship Game, if one or both of these teams is able to beat Alabama earlier in the season. LSU won last year’s game 24-19, in their first regular season meeting in 17 years.
November 29th: LSU @ Arkansas
The Battle for the Golden Boot rarely disappoints. Six of the last eight matchups have been decided by less than a touchdown.