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BTI's Rants and Ramblings: Which SEC teams take biggest risk in non-conference?

Article written by:On3 imageBryan the Intern
The SEC has gotten a reputation for being the most chicken schedulers in the country.  People claim they will never leave home or play difficult non-conference games and hence why they often have so many bowl eligible teams.  So, just which programs in the SEC actually do schedule tough and which ones have earned the “chicken” moniker?  Well, below I have ranked the 12 teams (Mizzou and Texas A&M not included after just 1 year of evidence) by their non-conference games against other BCS and major programs over the past 7 seasons.  Things taken under consideration where total games, games played at true road sites, and games scheduled outside of natural rivalries.  These are my rankings, tell me where I am wrong: 1. GEORGIA 2013: at #8 Clemson, at Georgia Tech 2012: Georgia Tech 2011: #5 Boise State (neutral), at #25 Georgia Tech 2010: at Colorado, Georgia Tech 2009: at #9 Oklahoma State, Arizona State, at #7 Georgia Tech 2008: at Arizona State, #22 Georgia Tech 2007: Oklahoma State, at Georgia Tech Why: UGA could just take the UK approach and say their natural rival (GaTech) is enough a challenge on the schedule and leave it at that.  But besides 2012, they have also scheduled another BCS opponent every year AND in 3 of the 6 years they have played a ranked BCS opponent.  While many argue that this kind of scheduling is suicide in the SEC, Georgia proves you can flourish.  The biggest cajones in the league.    2. ALABAMA 2013: Virginia Tech (neutral) 2012: #8 Michigan (neutal) 2011: at Penn State 2010: #18 Penn State, at Duke 2009: #7 Virginia Tech (neutral) 2008: #9 Clemson (neutral) 2007: at Florida State Why: There is no doubt that Alabama schedule a bunch of cream puffs in their non-conference.  But what elevates them to the top here is the fact that every year they schedule a STRONG BCS opponent.  They don't just put Wake Forest or Kansas on the schedule.  They take on Top 10-15 opponents year in and year out.  In their case, it's quality over quantity.   3. LSU 2013: #20 TCU (neutral) 2012: Washington 2011: Oregon (neutral), at West Virginia 2010: #18 North Carolina (neutral), #22 West Virginia 2009: at Washington 2008: None 2007: #9 Virginia Tech Why: Another team who has shown the ability to take risks, especially in early season games.  They also travel on the road cross-country to Washington, which has doomed many a team.  They also went to West Virginia when that program was rolling, as well at taking on Oregon and TCU in recent years.  Funny how they can keep an elite program while taking risks in the non-conference.   4. FLORIDA 2013: at Miami (FL), #12 Florida St 2012: at #10 Florida State 2011: Florida State 2010: South Florida, at #22 Florida State 2009: Florida State 2008: Miami, at #20 Florida State 2007: Florida State Why: Well, on the one hand they try to play all their rivals.  But the fact they have not scheduled a non-conference road game outside of the state since 1991 kinda makes you question their scheduling.  Even still, the non-conference teams in their state are tough, and they have kept the FSU series for many years now.  5. AUBURN 2013: Washington St. 2012: #14 Clemson (neutral) 2011: at Clemson 2010: Clemson 2009: West Virginia 2008: at West Virginia 2007: Kansas State, South Florida Why: I bet when they scheduled the games against Clemson and West Virginia, they thought they would be Top 20 teams, but those 2 programs have slumped.  Still, they travel on the road and have at least attempted to schedule tough games. 6. TENNESSEE 2013: at #3 Oregon 2012: NC State (neutral) 2011: Cincinnati 2010: #7 Oregon 2009: UCLA 2008: at UCLA 2007: at #12 California Why: They schedule one tough non-conference game a year and are willing to travel west.  Although they have been beat in every game listed except NC State, so maybe they should reconsider their scheduling methods.  Even still, they schedule tougher than those below them. 7. SOUTH CAROLINA 2013: North Carolina, #8 Clemson 2012: at #12 Clemson 2011: Clemson 2010: at Clemson 2009: at NC State, #18 Clemson 2008: NC State, at Clemson 2007: at North Carolina, Clemson Why: Have a yearly series with Clemson, which is an up and down program, plus they have schedule a couple of mid-level BCS games.  All in all, not very risky scheduling. 8. ARKANSAS 2013: at Rutgers 2012: Rutgers 2011: Texas A&M (neutral) 2010: Texas A&M (neutral) 2009: Texas A&M (neutral) 2008: at #7 Texas, #18 Tulsa 2007: None Why: When Texas A&M was in the Big 12, they had a 10-year contract with the Aggies.  Obviously that contract went by the wayside when they joined the league.  Even still, the Razorbacks have included Rutgers, which is a decent opponent at best, as they try and rebuild that program.   9.VANDERBILT 2012: Wake Forest 2011: UCONN, at Wake Forest 2010: Northwestern, at UCONN, Wake Forest 2009: #11 Georgia Tech 2008: Duke, at Wake Forest 2007: Wake Forest Why: Vandy schedules a ton of BCS games, but they are all against mediocre programs.  I kinda wish UK would schedule this way because despite the fact that Wake Forest and UCONN don't get your loins excited, they are still better than Miami (OH) and Samford.    10. OLE MISS 2103: at #15 Texas 2012: #14 Texas 2011: BYU 2010: None 2009: None 2008: at #20 Wake Forest 2007: Missouri Why: Before beginning a series with Texas, the Rebels had some pretty awful scheduling tactics.  Maybe the Longhorn series will improve that, but overall, still a pretty weak record of scheduling games.   11. KENTUCKY 2013: Louisville 2012: at #25 Louisville 2011: Louisville 2010: at Louisville 2009: Louisville 2008: at Louisville 2007: #9 Louisville Why: Sigh.  It would be nice to at least see Kentucky try and take a risk ONCE.  But, they have stuck with this method and it has, in theory, helped them get to a bowl.  Still, it shows a program that doesn’t think it can play with the big boys if it won’t even try and play the big boys. 12. MISSISSIPPI STATE 2013: #14 Oklahoma St (neutral) 2012: None 2011: None 2010: None 2009: #25 Georgia Tech 2008: at Georgia Tech 2007: at West Virginia Why: Weak, weak, weak.  Dan Mullen took his scheduling methods from Florida and brought them to Starkville.  Actually fairly stunning they are playing Oklahoma State considering they hadn't left the state in the non-conference since Dan Mullen took over.  At least Kentucky takes on a decent/good Louisville squad every year.  

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