There have been a lot of discussions on this blog about playing weak and uninteresting non-conference opponents and our disdain for them as well as articles from the press. So, I thought it would be fun to check out the 2012 non-conference schedules of the SEC and do a little dissecting.
I am no expert nor am I a doctor nor do I play one on TV. So, please pardon if my scalpel goes a little astray.
The 2012 SEC Non-Conference Schedules (alphabetically):
|Alabama||Michigan||WKU||Fla Atl||W. Carolina|
|Auburn||Clemson||La-Monroe||McNeese St||Ala A&M|
|Georgia||Buffalo||Fla Atl||Ga Southern||Ga Tech|
|LSU Tiger||N Texas||Washington||Idaho||Towson|
|Mississippi State||Jackson St||@Troy||S. Alabama||Mid Tenn|
|Missouri Tiger||SE La||Arizona St||@UCF||Syracuse|
|Ole Miss||Cent. Ark||UTEP||Texas||@Tulane|
|Tennessee||NC State||Ga State||Akron||Troy|
|Texas A&M||LaTech||@SMU||SC State||SamHouston|
* Bold represents teams from BCS conferences & Big East (oh no he DI'INT)
Now here comes the tricky part. I will attempt to rank these schedules.
Every SEC team plays at least one Division I-AA/FCS team. Nobody gets credit for scheduling a Georgia Southern over a Presbyterian (go Blue Hose!). Therefore, I have eliminated one I-AA from each schedule.
Next, I have attempted to rank the BCS opponents using a Composite Pre-season Ranking and my own noggin.
1. Florida playing #6 FSU in Tallahassee makes this the toughest of the bunch
2. In a close second, Bama plays #8 Michingan at a neutral site
3. SC plays at #15 Clemson
4. Ole Miss hosts #14 Texas
5. The barn hosts #15 Clemson
6. Suprisingly, Louisville is #26. Kentucky has to travel to their house.
The next groupings were not ranked. This is where the noggin comes in and a lot of "IMHO".
7. Tennessee faces Mike Glennon & NC State in the Georgia Dome.
8. LSU has Keith Price-led Washington in Tiger Stadium.
9. UGA plays their annual game with Georgia Tech.
10. Vandy plays two teams from other BCS conferences but let's face it, Northwestern and Wake Forest are not world beaters. However, both are road games which gives them the edge over...
11. Mizzou hosts Arizona St and Syracuse.
12. Arkansas vs. Schiano-less Rutgers.
13. (tied) Mississippi State and Texas A&M have no BCS opponents - shame.
Is this a tl/dr? Okay, long story short...
1. Florida retains the top ranking due to unpredictable Bowling Green and 9-win, bowl winning La-Laf.
2. For Alabama, the strength of the Michigan game outweighs facing 1-win FAU countered with 7-win WKU.
3. SC's two opponents also won 8 games last season (ECU 5, UAB 3). This keep them in third.
4. Ole Miss has UTEP but travels to Tulane to keep them dangling onto number 4.
5. Kentucky hosts Kent State and WKU (12 wins). They by default move up because of #7
6. LSU gets poor little N Texas and Idaho but at least they are I-A.
7. Auburn scheduled a second I-AA team to go with 4-win La-Monroe. This diminishes any brownie points they may have gotten for the Clemson game.
8. Tennessee has Spanky Bowden's 1-win Akron and 3-win Troy. They drop for inking these deals but NC State keeps them treading water.
9. Mizzou leapfrogs Vandy & UGA for traveling to Central Florida.
10. UGA faces Buffalo & Fla Atlantic who combined for 4 wins in 2011.
11. Vandy fourth game is UMass in their first I-A season (MAC).
12. Arkansas has La-Monroe and Tulsa in F'ville but stay down for having Rutgers as their "big non-SEC game".
13. Mississippi State is at Troy, at home vs. Sun Belt newcomer South Alabama and then vs. Mid Tenn State. Troy and MTSU won a combined 5 games in 2011. This puts MSU barely above...
14. Texas A&M plays two 8-win 2011 bowl teams vs. LaTech and at SMU but I cannot excuse scheduling a second I-AA team and no BCS team.
So that is my not-well-thought-out Mad Scientist diagnosis. Feel free to pick it apart.