2023 CFP National Championship - TCU v Georgia
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The 2023 college football schedule is loaded with enormous games, and that is most apparent in the SEC -- a conference that is home to the last four national champions. Strength of schedule is always a hot topic down the stretch in the current four-team College Football Playoff era, so we might as well savor this debate before the expanded 12-team CFP takes some of the fun away beginning in 2024.

Alabama will square off with LSU in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 4 in what will be a rematch of last year's thriller that gave the Tigers the upper hand in the SEC West. Both teams look to return to recent College Football Playoff glory in an era that is being dominated by the Georgia dynasty. Speaking of the Bulldogs, their quest to three-peat seems relatively clear, but you never know when that inexplicable upset could pop up. 

Outside of the conference, Florida will head to Utah in Week 1 and Alabama will host Texas in Week 2 -- both of which will be rematches of wild games that came down to the final seconds last season. 

Which teams have it easy? Which teams face a gauntlet? Let's break down the strength of schedule for each SEC team.

2023 SEC Strength of Schedule Rankings
Second-year coach Billy Napier has to show he has the program on the right track to satisfy the fanbase, but that's going to be difficult considering the gauntlet his team has to run. The Gators open the regular season at reigning Pac-12 champion Utah, end it with Florida State and play an SEC schedule in-between that is full of landmines. Two of their annual rivals -- LSU and Georgia -- won their respective divisions last season, and their rotating cross-division opponent, Arkansas, has a unique offense with quarterback KJ Jefferson at the helm. That matchup comes immediately after the Georgia game, which won't make it any easier.
The Rebels face Alabama and Georgia. If that isn't hard enough, they get LSU in Oxford the week after facing the Crimson Tide. That's followed by another home game vs. an Arkansas team that always brings a fight. Ole Miss also has a nonconference game at Tulane just eight months after the Green Wave topped USC in the Cotton Bowl. A trip to Auburn and an emotional game against rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl in the second half of the season caps a brutal slate for coach Lane Kiffin.
The Gamecocks have to deal with North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye and the rest of the Tar Heels in Charlotte in the opener, which is one of those under-the-radar Week 1 games that could mean more at the end of the season than originally anticipated. South Carolina then travels to Georgia in Week 3 and Tennessee in Week 5, so we will know an awful lot about coach Shane Beamer's squad before the calendar turns to October. Throw in the finale against a Clemson team that will be out for revenge and this is going to be brutal for the Gamecocks.
The Crimson Tide have a Week 2 showdown with Texas in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which could be one of the games of the year. The phrase "Texas is back" has been a running joke for more than a decade, but the Longhorns nearly upset Alabama in Austin, Texas, a year ago. Alabama can't let them get revenge, otherwise the season could get sideways. The Tide have nine straight games to start the season -- a streak that concludes with the massive rivalry game against Tennessee. They finish up with the road game vs. Auburn, and we all know how wild things can get inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers' schedule is always difficult with rivals Alabama and Georgia on the docket, and there's nothing first-year coach Hugh Freeze can do about that. However, both of those games are at least at home. The Tigers draw Vanderbilt as their rotating cross-division game, and their Power Five nonconference game is at California. Those games don't move the meter at all. This is a relatively manageable slate by Auburn's wildly high scheduling standard.
Tennessee has to face Georgia and Alabama every year, so that isn't a surprise. This season, the road trip to Tuscaloosa will be all about revenge for the Crimson Tide, so buckle up for that one. However, the matchup vs. Virginia in the season opener isn't exactly scary, and the Volunteers have Texas A&M as their rotating cross-division game. There will be pressure on coach Josh Heupel after last season's success, but the strength of this slate is par for the course for the Vols.
Missouri drew LSU as a rotating cross-division opponent, and its SEC East game vs. Georgia is on the road in Athens. Home games against upstarts Tennessee and Florida follow with a trip to Fayetteville for the annual rivalry game vs. Arkansas to close out the regular season. Oh, and the nonconference matchup against reigning Big 12 champion Kansas State and a neutral-site matchup with Memphis aren't walks in a park.
The Tigers open with a massive game vs. Florida State at a neutral site in Orlando, which could define the early-season landscape of the entire sport. Outside of the game vs. the Seminoles, however, the rest of the nonconference slate (Grambling, Georgia State and Army) isn't terribly daunting. In conference, LSU catches an Alabama team that will be out for revenge on Nov. 4 and follows that up with a home game vs. rival Florida.
The Wildcats have Alabama as their rotating cross-division rival on Nov. 11, which will undoubtedly test the depth of coach Mark Stoops' crew. Additionally, they have to travel to Athens to take on two-time reigning national champion Georgia. The good news is that their first four games of the season (Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, Akron and at Vanderbilt) will allow them to ease into the season and gain momentum.
The Razorbacks have a sneaky-tough nonconference home game against BYU in Week 3 and a difficult road trip to Florida for their rotating cross-division game on Nov. 4. The rest of the conference road slate is tough with games at LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama; the Hogs only have three true SEC home games since their rivalry game vs. Texas A&M is in Arlington, Texas. If there is a silver lining, those games -- Auburn, Missouri and Mississippi State -- are manageable.
It's a critical year for Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher, and his schedule has some tricky spots mixed in with some places to breathe. The stretch vs. Arkansas at a neutral site, vs. Alabama at home and at Rocky Top against Tennessee in a three-week span won't be fun. However, the nonconference Power Five matchup vs. Miami in Week 2 won't be as daunting as it was supposed to be when the contract was signed in 2016. The Aggies only have three true SEC road games due to the Arkansas game counting as their "fourth," so that helps.
Vanderbilt's marquee nonconference Power Five matchup is on the road against Wake Forest, which won't be easy for coach Clark Lea's squad. Plus, the Week 0 home game against Hawaii and Sept. 16 game at UNLV aren't automatic wins (by Vanderbilt standards). However, the 'Dores drew a rebuilding Auburn team as their rotating cross-division opponent, which is essentially the best possible time for the Tigers to appear on the docket. They have two bye weeks since they play in Week 0, which is always a good thing, especially for a team like Vanderbilt that can use any help it can get.
The Bulldogs get Alabama and Ole Miss at home, and they don't have a difficult nonconference Power Five opponent (Arizona). Plus, their bye week rests in the middle of the season, which will allow first-year coach Zach Arnett a perfect opportunity to self-scout before the home stretch. There is one issue, though: Three of Mississippi State's four SEC road games (Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M) take place over a four-week span in late October and early November.
The Bulldogs are on a quest to three-peat, and if they don't make the CFP, the season has to be considered a disaster. Their only Power Five nonconference matchup is intrastate rival Georgia Tech, and they don't have road games on consecutive weeks until they travel to Tennessee prior to the season finale against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia has Ole Miss as its rotating cross-division game, which is going to be tricky. Coach Kirby Smart's crew only has three true conference road games since the rivalry showdown with Florida is in Jacksonville.