Blog Entry

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:03 pm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

At long last, the SEC finally unveiled its 2012 football schedule Wednesday--its first with  Texas A&M and Missouri as its 13th and 14th members, and the matter of intense speculation and rumor ever since the Aggies and Tigers joined this past fall. Though the schedule isn't yet an indicator of how things will look in 2013 and beyond (Mike Slive pointedly said recently the 2012 edition is a one-year stopgap before a permanent divisional rotation is established the following season), that doesn't mean there's not plenty to parse and analyze where 2012 is concerned. Here's a team-by-team look at what each SEC program is happy about regarding the schedule, and what they're not so glad about:


Likes that: its East divisional draw doesn't feature either South Carolina or Georgia. A road trip to Missouri could be tricky, but given the way the Gamecocks whomped the Tide the last time the two teams met and how the Bulldogs have finished this season, Alabama's not going to complain about getting a first historic visit to Columbia under their belts. And of course, their permanent cross-divisional rivalry with Tennessee isn't anything to fear at this stage. Getting Auburn at home is always a plus.

Doesn't like that: what shapes up as the two biggest SEC games on its schedule, LSU and Arkansas, both come on the road. If the Tide are going to earn the critical head-to-head tiebreaker over either of their West rivals, they're going to have to do it the hard way.


Likes that: both Alabama and LSU have to visit Fayetteville, where the Hogs have been particularly feisty against the Tigers. And taking on the Tide early (Sept. 15, the first SEC game of the season for both) could work to Arkansas's advantage as Nick Saban retools his much, much younger defense. Any West team that gets "home vs. Kentucky" as one of their East games has to be pleased with their good fortune there, too.

Doesn't like that: its annual game with South Carolina is on the road, we guess. But the way the Hogs have routed the Gamecocks the past few seasons, they probably don't care too much where they play them, and that still might be their only complaint; the West is still the West, but this was as kind a schedule as it was possible to draw up for the Hogs. 


Likes that: three of its four road games are visits to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. The fourth is to Bryant-Denny, but after this year's murderous road slate, the Tigers will take what they can get--and three road games as a potential favorite is an awfully nice thing for any West team to get. As solid as Vandy looks to be in Year 2 of the James Franklin reclamation project, too, it's doubtful the Tigers will mind the Gamecocks and Gators rotating off the schedule and the Commodores rotating on.

Doesn't like that: the Alabama game is on the road, or that they have to deal with the general pain of having the East's current best team as an annual rival. But this schedule shapes up much more like the Tigers' palatable 2010 slate than their 2011 one.


Likes that: if the Gators actually haul themselves up into a position to contend for the East title, they'll get potential co-challengers South Carolina and Missouri in Gainesville. And it's an even year, which means four home games and three true road games to go with the neutral-site Cocktail Party.

Doesn't like that: they get the "honor" of being the first SEC team to visit Kyle Field for a conference game; think the Aggie faithful will be a little fired up for that one? Having LSU as an annual rival hurts there days, and even getting them at home doesn't help since the Gators would likely prefer to have a more beatable opponent in that slot. Tough to get a rougher West draw than that.


Likes that: for the second straight season, there's still no LSU, Alabama, or Arkansas on the schedule. Instead, the Bulldogs get Ole Miss at home--the single easiest West game it was possible for them to pull. In terms of raw 2011 win-loss, the Bulldogs have the easiest set of opponents in the league.

Doesn't like that: if the East comes down to one game against either South Carolina, Florida, or Missouri, all three are away from Athens; with Auburn on the road, too, it's arguable that not one of the Dawgs' four toughest opponents will come to Sanford Stadium. The Bulldogs can't complain too loudly (if at all) given the teams they're facing out of the West, but this is still a much tougher road to hoe than they faced in 2011.


Likes that: they get annual cross-division opponent Mississippi State at home; given the other options out of the West, that's not so bad. Their traditional most winnable SEC game -- Vanderbilt -- comes at home in 2012, too.

Doesn't like that: their other West game is a trip to Arkansas, two precious home games are "wasted" on the potentially out-of-reach Bulldogs and Gamecocks, or that they have to travel to Knoxville when the Vols are as vulnerable as they've ever been. (Though given the choice, they'd have surely taken them at home in 2011 rather than '12.) When you're Kentucky, it's hard to put together a schedule that doesn't immediately seem like an impossible hill to climb.


Likes that: Alabama has to return to Baton Rouge for a guaranteed night game that could -- again -- decide the SEC West. Though the Tigers would maybe rather have their dates with the Mississippi schools on the road (since they'd likely beat them anywhere), getting the Bulldogs and Rebels for back-to-back November home games should provide a nice lead-in to the critical season-ending roadie at Arkansas.

Doesn't like that: aside from the Alabama game, the SEC did the defending champs no favors. Gators/Gamecocks is almost as touch a draw from the East as you can get; the Tigers have to start their SEC season with a pair of challenging roadies at Auburn and Florida; and the long-awaited renewal of their hot-blooded rivalry with Texas A&M will begin in College Station rather than the friendly confiens of Death Valley. All together, no SEC contender will face a more difficult quartet of road games than the Tigers will.


Likes that: the winnable games are at home. Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, and Auburn shape up as arguably the four most vulnerable opponents on the rebels' 2012 slate, and all four come to Oxford. If the Rebels go winless in conference for a second straight season, they can't say the schedule didn't give them a reasonable opportunity.

Doesn't like that: the road slate is just this side of completely impossible: at Alabama, at Arkansas, at Georgia, at LSU. Toughest set of road games for one team in SEC history? It's in play. And for a team as currently woebegone as the Rebels are, drawing Kentucky or Tennessee instead of Georgia out of the East would have been very, very welcome.


Likes that: their date with Kentucky is in Lexington but their dates with Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, respectively; the Bulldogs should beat the former anyway, while traveling to the latter saves their home games for more beat-able Auburn, Texas A&M, and Tennessee. And speaking of the Vols--could MSU have drawn anything better out of the East than at the Wildcats and home vs. Tennessee? No, no they could not have.

Doesn't like that: the all-important Egg Bowl is at Ole Miss. But other than that, this is about as pleasant a schedule as State could expect.


Likes that: they host Georgia in their SEC debut, giving them a chance to take control of the East race (in front of what should be one of their season's best crowds) right off the bat. That three-week home stand in the middle of the season -- one that includes both Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- could be a springboard to bigger things down the road. And even if the middle game of that stretch is Alabama, a potentially unfortunate pull from the West in terms of the win column, might as well start off your SEC tenure with a bang, right?

Doesn't like that: games against potential East rivals South Carolina and Florida both come on the road.


Likes that: they get Georgia and Missouri at home and could use that advantage to earn a key head-to-head tiebreaker. That's about it.

Doesn't like that: they're still stuck with Arkansas as their annual West game and add a road date with none other than LSU; no one in the East faces a tougher pair of cross-divisional games. Coming only one season after the Gamecocks' West draw arguably kept them out of Atlanta singlehandedly -- they traveled to face Arkansas (and lost) while Georgia went to Oxford to crush the hapless Rebels -- that's a tough, tough pill to swallow. Going to Gainesville is adding insult to injury.


Likes that: Kentucky comes to Neyland for the best possible shot at starting a new streak over the Wildcats, and as potential West opponents go, the Vols could be facing one more difficult than Mississippi State (even on the road). Hosting Florida to kick off the SEC season could give Derek Dooley's under-fire tenure a quick jumpstart, and hey, get this--the Third Saturday in October is actually scheduled for the third Saturday in October.

Doesn't like that: road games at Georgia and South Carolina should pretty much end any hope of a dark horse SEC East run before it starts. And not that anyone in Knoxville wants to drop the Tide, but that series pretty much guarantees the Vols will have a rougher West draw than a team like, say, oh, Georgia.


Likes that: they get one of the league's glamour teams for their SEC debut, hosting Florida on Sept. 8; adding the Gators and old rivals LSU to the home slate will make season tickets at Kyle Field as hot as they've been in years. Traveling to the Mississippi schools isn't nearly as daunting as traveling to some other SEC locations.

Doesn't like that: they get a looming three-game road stretch between October and November that features visits to both Auburn and Alabama. If their date with Arkansas stays in Dallas for one more season -- the Aggies want to move it to College Station and it's all-but-certain to become a home-and-home in 2013 -- they'd have just three SEC home games total, a la Georgia.


Likes that: they can immediately announce themselves as serious SEC East players with a home date against the Gamecocks, one that will open the entire 2012 SEC season on Aug. 30. Their annual cross-division rivalry with Ole Miss has never looked better, and their other West opponent -- Auburn -- must come to Nashville.

Doesn't like that: in the event of a loss to South Carolina, consecutive road trips to Georgia and Missouri could take the wind completely out of the Commodores' sails by the first week of October. 

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Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:41 am

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Dear MSU: you should look at each team's Strength of Schedule Ranking before making comments like that: Auburn #11, LSU #19, Alabama #22, Georgia #22, Arkansas #31, Michigan State #37, Wisconsin #57

Since: Nov 11, 2008
Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:13 am

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I'm a Mizzou fan eager to put all the realignment mess behind us and get focused on playing football in the strongest conference the land.  I know there are some dominant teams in the conference, including my dad's Crimson Tide.  We are going to have a good time watching that game together no matter what happens.

All smack-talk aside, I know we will need to improve our play on both sides of the ball.  We need to get more physical.  I don't believe we can out-think, out-strategize, and out-maneuver the big boys in the SEC using our spread offense 100% of the time.  I hope we decide to USE the spread and stop trying to BE the spread. 

We are going to have a hard time pulling in those top-5 recruiting classes like Bama, LSU, and Florida consistently do.  We might lose some steam in our Texas recruiting circles.  But I think any kid that visits Columbia Missouri will love the town, the facilities, and the fans.  Winning will help a lot.  M...I...Z!!!

Since: Dec 29, 2011
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:37 am

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I tend to believe it is going to be a very rude awakening for Mizzou and TAMU.. two second tier big12 teams going to a conference that is much stronger...

UGA sure is living right.. doesnt have to play LSU or Bama - second year in a row.  must be nice.

Since: Sep 3, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:15 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I once respected Michigan State but after reading the post that this "lovinMSU" put up I have to say something I thought I would never ever says


Since: Dec 28, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:03 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I have no dog in this fight because I am a Tennessee fan. However, anyone who is unbiased can clearly see that Georgia is only the SEC East Champ because of unfair scheduling. They were beaten by South Carolina for the second year in a row. They are clearly not the best team in the East this year and they will not be next year. South Carolina was undefeated in the east and deserved the title. Don't get me wrong, I am no fan of the Gamecocks and I can't stand Spurrior. However, I get really amused at the craziness of Georgia fans who cannot face reality. Next year Georgia plays Auburn and Mississippi (and Missouri) while South Carolina plays LSU and Arkansas (and Missouri). There is no human being on the planet that can say this is fair in any way. Georgia gets a huge break by kicking Alabama off their schedule.  Do you think money and influence might be behind this? Surely the all powerful SEC overlords would not favor traditional power Georgia over upstart South Carolina. Bulldog fans, be happy you got a huge break for the second straight year. Don't try to make fake excuses for being given an unfair advantage. Go into Columbia and beat the Gamecocks. Otherwise shut up!!!

Since: Dec 28, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:59 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Maybe I just pay too much attention to this, but I think CBS really just needs to get their act together. I'm an Alabama fan so I know that not playing Georgia this year is an act of new scheduling. But to say dodging South Carolina, is not taking into account that we just finished the series with them last. This is true for several teams listed in the article. I think the SEC has done about as good a job of this as could be done.

Since: Jul 28, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:56 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Dec 28, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 9:15 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I must make 2 corrections. Alabama already played at Columbia Missouri in 1978 and won. Also, the SEC changed its format on scheduling about 6 to 8 years ago. Originally in 1992 it was 5 in your division, 2 every year rivalries in th other division, and a rotation of the  other 4 teams in the other divison of 2 straight games or twice every 8 years. When the change happened many teams complained. Aubuern lost its annual Florida game and Alabama lost its annual game with Vandy.

Since: Nov 20, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:53 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I am looking forward to the Georgia-Michigan State game. I get to see quite a bit of the Big 10 here in Wyoming and the three state games I saw they looked good. Ilovestate guy you need to look closer at Georgia. I think they will play well against your Spartans. They held LSU without a first down and only 7 or so total yards in the first half. I don't think the Spartans have the depth LSU does to beat Georgia in the second half. Georgia dominated the statistics against LSU but three dropped TD passes and numerous dropped first down passes, two punt returns and turnovers killed Georgia. They showed they have a good young ballclub though. I wouldn't argue Georgia's schedule after looking at the Spartans schedule. From Wyoming I would say the Spartans had the easiest schedule. looking forward to SC-Nebraska also. Several of the sec-big 10 matchups are what make bowl season great. I guess I am in a good position just wanting to see good football and don't care who wins.

Since: Sep 6, 2008
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:50 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

How can you say that 
They purposely pad the schedule so the better teams play the weakest teams and rack up easy wins.
when the SEC since 1992 has gone a 5 division, 2 rotating non-division and 1 annual non-division rival game.  The schedule is rotating.  Each team faces each Divisional opponent every season, and 1 annual rival non-division and the other five are played twice in a 10 year period.  Prior to this expansion with Missouri and Texas A&M, the SEC schedule was pre-planned over the next 10 years, your statment about 
scheduling 1 year at a time so they can manipulate things like the SEC has
shows your ignorance to what the SEC actually does.  I would also say that 3-4 teams in the SEC would come out un-scathed from that schedule of the four teams you list.  As you will see in less than a week, there is a difference in the syle of play between the SEC and the B1G.  


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