Each year in college football, there are a handful of games that ultimately dictate the outcome of the entire season. The Southeastern Conference schedule is the most grueling in the country, as almost every week there is a game with championship implications.
This week, we’ll examine some of the SEC games that should a major impact on this college football season.
Texas A&M vs. Arizona State. This game hasn’t gotten the same attention as Alabama/Wisconsin or Auburn/Louisville, but this will be the best game of the opening weekend. It has no bearing on conference standings, but these are two of the top teams in the SEC and Pac-12. Both teams are dark horse candidates in their respective conferences, and there will be plenty of points scored in Houston by the Aggies and Sun Devils.
Oklahoma at Tennessee. This is perhaps the most intriguing non-conference matchup involving a team from the SEC. If the Vols are going to be as good as they’re expected to be, they should beat Oklahoma in Knoxville. The Sooners haven’t received much attention in the Big 12 due to the strength of TCU and Baylor but should have a solid team.
South Carolina at Georgia. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs have developed a rivalry since Steve Spurrier’s arrival in Columbia, and the Ole Ball Coach has had Mark Richt’s number lately. South Carolina experienced a disappointing 2014 season but still upset Georgia early in the year. If UG had won that game, it likely would have won the East Division. The Gamecocks shouldn’t be a threat in the East this year but could play spoiler once again.
Ole Miss at Alabama. Last year, the Rebels defeated the Crimson Tide in one of the biggest upsets of the season. Ole Miss travels to Tuscaloosa for both team’s conference opener, and the Rebels haven’t won in T-Town since 1988.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas. The winner of this game has a chance to contend for the SEC West crown. Arkansas will be undefeated entering this game, and the Aggies have a chance to be perfect as well. Last year, A&M knocked off the Razorbacks, 35-28, in overtime in Dallas.
Tennessee at Florida. The Gators have defeated the Volunteers the past 10 meetings, and both teams will be under pressure to pick up the win in Gainesville. This will be Jim McElwain’s first SEC home opener as a head coach, and losing to Tennessee for the first time in a decade would be a poor start for this SEC coaching career. For Butch Jones, knocking off the Gators on the road to start the SEC season would put his Vols in great shape in the East.
Arkansas at Tennessee. The Razorbacks and the Volunteers are supposed to be the two teams that make the jump from the middle of the pack to contenders this season. This meeting in early Oct. will be a huge game for both teams.
Alabama at Georgia. This matchup has the potential to be one of the best games in the entire country. The Tide and the Bulldogs don’t meet very often, but when they do clash it usually results in a highly entertaining contest. The last time they met, Alabama narrowly defeated Georgia to secure a berth in the national championship game in 2012.
Georgia at Tennessee. The winner of this matchup should be in great position for the SEC East race. If the Vols already have multiple losses, it will be a game they cannot afford to lose.
Arkansas at Alabama. In back-to-back weeks, the Crimson Tide will face two of the most physical teams in the league. Both Georgia and Arkansas will primarily run the ball, providing a major test for Alabama’s mighty front seven.
Missouri at Georgia. Missouri has won two straight East Division titles. If they can knock off the Bulldogs in Athens, the Tigers will have a great chance at winning another division crown.
Auburn at Arkansas. When the Tigers and Razorbacks meet, it’s always interesting to watch due to the contrast of styles. There’s a decent chance that Auburn is undefeated entering this game, and Ar-kansas would have a great opportunity to pick up a massive win at home.
Ole Miss at Auburn. Last year’s contest between the Rebels and Tigers was an instant classic, with Auburn prevailing, 35-31. Gus Malzahn is 2-0 against his good friend Hugh Freeze, and this will be another pivotal SEC West matchup.
Florida at Georgia. One of the best rivalries in the SEC takes place every year in Jacksonville, Fla. Mark Richt has had trou-ble beating Florida in the past, and this will be his first matchup against Jim McElwain. The Bulldogs can’t afford to drop this one again.
Auburn at Texas A&M. The road team has won this game the past two seasons, and this year’s version will likely feature plenty of scoring. Two years ago, Auburn won 45-41 in a game that sparked the Tigers’ spectacular season. Last season, the Aggies upset the Tigers 41-38 in a game that ended Auburn’s national title hopes. Expect more fireworks this fall in College Station.
LSU at Alabama. This rivalry has taken off since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. It’s always a very physical game and often low-scoring. Alabama has the much better team entering 2015, and Les Miles might need to pull off an upset if the Tigers’ season isn’t going well at that point.
Georgia at Auburn. The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry is tied 55-55 overall, and there’s a chance these teams could meet twice this season. The last time they played in Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Tigers won 43-38 on a Hail Mary pass. Last year, the Bulldogs pummeled Auburn, 34-7. The team’s November meeting will be one of the best games of the season.
LSU at Ole Miss. This is one of the most underrated rivalries in the SEC. LSU narrowly defeated Ole Miss last year in Baton Rouge, and Hugh Freeze’s team will be out for revenge this fall in Oxford.
Alabama at Auburn. For the second time in three years, the Iron Bowl will decide the SEC West. The last time that was the case, the Tigers won thanks to the Kick Six in 2013. Last year, Alabama defeated Auburn, 55-44, in a shootout. This year’s version of the Iron Bowl will be close again, and everything will be on the line in Jordan-Hare Stadium.