by Jordan Grove
In less than 40 days the 2011 SEC football schedule will kick-off with two dynamite out of conference games for two of the Southeastern Conference’s preeminent teams. LSU and Georgia face stiff tests coming out of the gate as they highlight a slate of action that is sure to be must-watch-tv.
Widely considered the best college football conference, the SEC will have at least one game a week that fans of the SEC, Southern pigskin, and football general must watch. From Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate to old rivalries renewed to pre-season favorites squaring off against each to determine the winner of their division, there is nothing better than Southern football on a Saturday night and this season is no different.
The season starts on September 3rd and ends November 26th , so, without further adieu, here is your viewing guide for the 2011 SEC season.
LSU vs. Oregon – Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Last season’s runner-up to the national championship versus one of the favorites to win the SEC this year. LSU has won the last two BCS titles when the game was played in New Orleans. Where is this year’s BCS national championship being played? You got it: the Big Easy.
Georgia vs. Boise State – Georgia Dome, Atlana, GA
The Bulldogs get homefield advantage as they host consistent BCS busters Boise State. The Broncos return Heisman trophy contender Kellen Moore and their high-powered offense and hope to avenge their 2005 dismantling by Georgia.
Ole Miss vs. BYU – Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
The Cougars begin their first year of football independence by visiting Ole Miss where temptation will be in plain sight as some of the most beautiful women will be in their Saturday best for tailgating in The Grove. The newly named Ole Miss (Rebel) Black Bears look to rebound following a disappointing 2010 campaign and will have their work cut out for them with Bronco Mendenhall’s talented group.
Alabama at Penn State – Happy Valley, PA
The Crimson Tide didn’t have a problem last season with the Nittany Lions and this year could be no different as Alabama are the pre-season favorites to win the SEC West while Penn State looks to struggle once again with quarterback play.
Mississippi State at Auburn – Jordan-Hare Stadium
Conference games start the second week of play as Dan Mullen and the surprising Bulldogs travel to Auburn, Alabama in hopes of knocking off the defending national champions.
South Carolina vs. Navy – Williams-Brice Stadium
After traveling to Georgia in the 2nd week, the SEC East pre-season favorites host the Midshipmen and their always potent triple option rushing attack. If South Carolina wants to live up to expectations then they must knock off Navy, if not then it will be another underwhelming season for the Gamecocks.
LSU at Mississippi State – Davis Wade Stadium
A dreaded Thursday night game for the Tigers as they travel to Davis Wade where the Bulldogs came dangerously close to knocking off LSU in 2009. Dan Mullen’s team will need a victory over LSU to help them in their hunt for their first SEC West title since 1998 while the Tigers will need to knock off the Bulldogs for them to help their chances of returning to the BCS title game.
Arkansas at Alabama – Bryant-Denny Stadium
This will be Arkansas’ first real test after having an extremely easy first three weeks (Missouri St., New Mexico, Troy), which by that time Tyler Wilson will know what kind of offensive line he has since it will be tested severely by Alabama’s aggressive 3-4 defense. Alabama will also be tested since Bobby Petrino considers this year’s defense his best yet in Fayetteville.
LSU at West Virginia – Milan Pusker Stadium
The Tigers tamed the Mountaineers during West Virginia’s trip to Baton Rouge last season but new coach Dana Holgorsen’s new offense will be more explosive than the departed Bill Stewart’s. A win here could have LSU in good position for the rest of the season but playing in West Virginia and facing their tenaciously raucous crowds is usually easier said than done.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M – Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
These former Southwest Conference rivals continue their rivalry on the neutral field of Jerry World and is another prominent non-conference game featuring a member of the SEC. Arkansas has won every game since the rivalry was renewed in 2009 following an 18 year layoff of the Southwest Classic.
Ole Miss at Fresno State – Bulldog Stadium, Fresno, CA
Last season the Bulldogs gnawed the Rebels up 55-38 and the WAC favorites hope to do that again this year. Houston Nutt will have to revenge last year’s loss in order to prevent himself from getting on the hot seat.
LSU vs Florida – Tiger Stadium
The second week in October always provides sparks and this year should be no different as former LSU assistant Will Muschamp brings Florida to do battle with the Tigers on the first marquee home game for LSU. Tiger faithful will be fully lubricated for what should be an exciting Saturday night under the lights of Death Valley.
Georgia at Tennessee – Neyland Stadium
Derek Dooley faces his famous father’s former team as this game could determine who could come in 2nd or 3rd in the SEC East, which is if South Carolina doesn’t trip. Another mediocre season could cost Mark Richt his job and a win against Tennessee would help his cause considerably while a win over Georgia would show that Dooley’s young team shows promise.
Mississippi State vs. South Carolina – Davis Wade Stadium
Dan Mullen’s explosive offense vs. the Fun ‘n’ Gun of Steve Spurrier. This game is sure to pack a ton of fireworks and a win here for either team will go a long way in determining their future.
Alabama vs. Tennessee – Bryant-Denny Stadium
The “Third Saturday in October” will feature the 92nd meeting between these two historic universities. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide could be undefeated at this point while Tennessee could be in the thick of the SEC East race. There won’t be any love lost between these two hated rivals.
Vanderbilt vs. Army – Vanderbilt Stadium
The first time Vandy is featured on this list since they face a team that broke their bowl drought last year. This could be the Commodore’s last chance at a win since the only team they stand a chance against that they have left on the schedule is Kentucky.
Florida vs. Georgia – EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Forget the “Florida vs. Georgia Football Classic”. This is the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and one of the best rivalries in all of college football. Since 1990 the Bulldogs have only won the contest 3 times and look to reverse those fortunes this year.
Alabama vs. LSU – Bryant-Denny Stadium
The Saban Bowl where each coach has beat the other twice. The winner of this game usually goes on to win the SEC West and will pack enormous importance over the outcome of the division this year and could come down between which team’s defense holds up.
Arkansas vs. South Carolina – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
This will be South Carolina’s last road game before a three game home stand to end the season. Last season the Razorbacks skunked the Gamecocks by 21 points and a loss to Arkansas could possibly be extremely detrimental to South Carolina’s chances at winning the SEC Eeast. A win for Arkansas would likely keep them in the thick of the SEC West race.
Auburn at Georgia – Sanford Stadium
The Auburn War Eagles, Plainsmen, Tigers, whatever they want to be called this week will go between the hedges in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. A win for either team could possibly make them bowl eligible, however, a loss to both Florida and Auburn could cost Mark Richt his job.
Alabama at Mississippi State – Davis Wade Stadium
State gets most of their toughest opponents at home this year which is usually extremely beneficial. Last year Alabama just toyed with the Bulldogs beating them by 20 points. If Dan Mullen wants to take that next step in getting Mississippi State recognized as a team to be reckoned with then he must beat either LSU or Alabama. This would be his last chance in the season to do either.
Alabama at Auburn – Jordan-Hare Stadium
Forget records, this one is for bragging rights. Can’t you just hear Brent Musberger saying those exact words when watching this game on CBS? The Iron Bowl is a blood feud and Alabama will be looking for revenge after letting a victory slip into the jaws of defeat last season while Auburn will be looking to knock off the Crimson Tide.
Florida State at Florida – “The Swamp” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The battle for the Governor’s Cup is at stake and if Florida State is as good as some media predict then the Gators could be in trouble and fall for the second year in a row to the Seminoles. Former friends, roommates, co-house owners, and former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp will coach against the other for the first time as head coaches.