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: Sep 6, 2008
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:43 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

I am tired of hearing how bad USC has it so difficult that they have Arkansas as a cross-divisional rival.  It is not like Arkansas is truly a pwer in the West.  This season they played a schedule in the bottom third of the SEC and have been over rated all year.  I never heard anyone saying that UGA had it tought in 2007 - 2009 when Alabama, LSU and Arkansas were rotating in and out along with the annual cross-divisional rivalry with Auburn every season.  Get over the SEC schedule.  South Carolina has Arkansas every season, Tennessee has Alabama every season, Florida has LSU every season and UGA has Auburn every season.  I would wager that Auburn returns as a power in the West quicker than Arkansas remains as a over-rated, over-ranked "power house".  The comparison between this season's trip of South Carolina to Arkansas and UGA's to Oxford are 'apples to oranges'.  The correct comparison for the 2011 season was UGA got to go to Oxford while South Carolina got to go to Mississippi State.  If you are going to report, report accurately.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:33 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Put up or shut up lovinMSU. What did MSU do against the SEC last year in the bowl?

Since: Sep 3, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:24 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

And no Big 10 team comes out undefeated.  Then the SEC team and the Big 10 team play in the National Championship...

Advantage SEC team.

You cry about the schedules all you want, but the teams from the other conferences need to put up or shut up in the National Championship game.

Recent history suggests, that the SEC team has been the superior team.

The SEC doesn't schedule yearly.  This schedule was done for only 2012.  Prior to the addition of TAMU and Mizzou, they schedule well in advance, crybaby.

In the Sprin SEC meetings they are going to put together a norma lschedule starting in 2013 moving forward.  Get over yourself.

Since: Nov 27, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 7:17 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

You, sir, are a clown.  

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: December 28, 2011 6:09 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

These schedules are a crock and its easy to see why there is always an SEC team playing in the championship game.  They purposely pad the schedule so the better teams play the weakest teams and rack up easy wins.  Look at Georgia this year.  Lost to Boise State then South Carolina and LSU.  All 3 ranked teams they played they lost to.  And somehow they are in the top 15?  HOW THE HECK DOES THAT HAPPEN?  Who did Alabama play?  LSU and they lost.  They beat Arkansas but they didnt play anyone either.  

I cant wait for the other conferences to get smart and start doing their scheduling 1 year at a time so they can manipulate things like the SEC has.  

Lets see any SEC team play the 4 game set Michigan State did and come out undefeated.  Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska all in a row.  NO SEC team comes out undefeated. 

Since: Dec 7, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 6:07 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

i hope mizzou loses all their sec games.its not about football.the mizzou fans cannot stand to get smacked by bblers. 

Since: Nov 20, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 5:05 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Looking at the entire schedule I think it is a very good one. South Carolina got a tough draw but I would say about equal to Florida having LSU and A&M. Arkansas and A&M played toe to toe. I think they offset that by only giving Georgia three home games for the season. South Carolina does get to play their big games at home while Georgia has all their big games on the road. Alabama has to like their draw missing Georgia who was originally on their schedule and not playing a tough SC team. LSU gets an improved Florida team and SC so they can't be happy after looking at Alabama's schedule. Tennessee does not look as good as Florida for next year. The talent pool is just down there. Arkansas. LSU and Alabama all have got to be happy missing Georgia. I dearly wanted to watch the Georgia-Alabama game this year and from a fans standpoint that and the LSU-Alabama game were the two must see games for next year. I think for next year it will be a rematch of Georgia and LSU. Not because of the schedule but because they will be the two best teams in the SEC next year. That is assuming the players at Georgia stay together like they say and do not go pro. If Georgia keeps that team together they can beat LSU in the championship game and win a national title. Not saying they will, but will have the team to do so. I honestly don't know that anybody will come within two touchdowns of LSU next year. I think Georgia, Alabama and Southern Cal are the only three teams that will even keep it close. All LSU needed this year to be a complete team was a quarterback. Next year they will have one of the best and could be the most complete college football team I have ever seen.

Since: Nov 20, 2011
Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:38 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

Yes, South Carolina's west draw did keep them out of Atalanta. They lost to Auburn at home while Georgia crushed Auburn. That did keep them out of Atlanta.

Since: Aug 13, 2007
Posted on: December 28, 2011 4:18 pm

2012 SEC schedule team-by-team breakdown

"in the event" that Vanderbilt loses to South Carolina.


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