Sallee: Top 5 SEC Out-Of-Conference Games
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
Posted Jun 18, 2011

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee ranks the top five SEC out-of-conference games of 2011.

Reach me via e-mail at or on Twitter @BarrettSallee

The top conference in football again boasts some compelling out-of–conference games in 2011. Fans outside of SEC country tend to knock the SEC for its tendency to schedule the "sisters-of-the-poor" ($1 to E. Gordon Gee), but most SEC teams schedule at least one big game against a team from a BCS conference per year. That, along with the in-conference SEC schedule, makes the path SEC teams take to the BCS Championship Game a treacherous one. Here are the top five out-of-conference games in the SEC in 2011.

5. Auburn at Clemson - September 17
Auburn's first road game as defending national champion takes the Tigers out-of-conference to take on the Clemson Tigers in Death Valley. Auburn won an overtime slugfest against Clemson in mid-September last season on the Plains, 27-24, in a game that really was the spring board for Auburn's run to the crystal football. Clemson is generally regarded to be as close to an SEC program – both in physicality and game day atmosphere – as any program in the country. With so much turnover from last year's squad, this will be the first road test for many of the Auburn players as starters. The noon ET kickoff will certainly put a little bit of a damper in the crowd noise, but we'll still know a lot more about Auburn after they travel to Clemson and play in a hostile environment. Prediction: Auburn 21, Clemson 20.

4. Alabama at Penn State - September 10
Alabama travels to Penn State to play the second half of a home-and-home that revived a series that was a staple during the 1980's. Alabama is one of a select few teams soaking up all of the preseason love, but with a new quarterback and no Julio Jones or Mark Ingram, going on the road to take on the Nittany Lions will be a tough test for the Crimson Tide. The door is wide open for Penn State to take the Big Ten title, so the Tide will provide a good measuring stick before the Nittany Lions enter Big Ten play three weeks later at Indiana. Can they hang with the mighty Tide? Probably not. The gap between the SEC and the Big Ten was displayed prominently on New Year's Day, and not much has changed since then. Prediction: Alabama 28, Penn State 10.

3. Georgia vs. Boise State (in Atlanta, Ga.) - September 3
Georgia put a 48-13 whipping on Boise State when the Broncos travelled to Athens to open the 2005 season. This isn't the same Boise State program. The boys from the blue field have established themselves as one of the premier programs in the country, despite playing in conferences that have a mediocre track record. For the Bulldogs, this game isn't as important as their home opener the following week vs. South Carolina, but it would be huge for the program – and for Mark Richt's job security – to open the 2011 season with a win over Boise State. Georgia's defense will get a tough test from Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore, who can use this stage to kick off his 2011 Heisman Trophy campaign. Georgia's offense, minus A.J. Green and Washaun Ealey, better find some answers this summer. After all, the Broncos finished No. 2 in the nation last year in total defense, giving up only 254.7 yards per game. Prediction: Boise State 24, Georgia 20.

2. Florida State at Florida - November 26
Remember when this game meant everything? EVERYTHING?! There's no denying that this rivalry has lost its luster since the glory days of Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier, due in large part to the drop off in talent on the Florida State roster. First-year Florida head coach Will Muschamp has injected a newfound enthusiasm into the Gator program that was lacking during Urban Meyer's swan song last season. Florida is going to have some difficulty moving from the spread back to the pro-style offense, but most of those kinks will be worked out by the season finale – just in time to host the hated Seminoles, who could be in national title contention. College football needs this rivalry to come back to the forefront. In 2011, it will. Prediction: Florida State 28, Florida 27.

1. LSU vs. Oregon (in Arlington, Texas) - September 3
Oregon lost the 2011 BCS National Championship Game to Auburn because of one reason – the Ducks were dominated up front. The first game of the 2011 regular season will be more of the same, as the Ducks again take on a team from the SEC – the LSU Tigers. Everybody wants to see LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson take the next step and emerge as a threat, not a liability. In the opener against Oregon, though, he won't have to. LSU's veteran offensive line will open up plenty of holes for running back Spencer Ware; and LSU's defensive line will dominate an Oregon offensive line that replaces three starters and more than 100 starts. The Ducks may break a big play or two, but for the most part, this one will be a slugfest –and Oregon won't slug back. Prediction: LSU 27, Oregon 16.

Just missed the cut: LSU at West Virginia, Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington, Texas), South Carolina at Clemson.

Coming next week: The top five SEC conference games.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee

2010/2011 Off-Season Column Archive:
Top 5 SEC Out-Of-Conference Games - June 18, 2011
Five Thoughts on the SEC OL - June 13, 2011
CFN Analysis: Pryor Done at OSU - June 7, 2011
Five Thoughts on the SEC WR's - June 6, 2011
Ranking The SEC Head Coaches - June 6, 2011
Point/Counterpoint: Oversigning In The SEC II - June 4, 2011
Point/Counterpoint: Oversigning In The SEC - June 2, 2011
CFN Analysis: Tressel Resigns – May 30, 2011
Five Thoughts on SEC RB's – May 29, 2011
Ohio State & Tressel: The Hits Keep Coming – May 29, 2011
Five Thoughts on the SEC QB's – May 23, 2011
CFN Thoughts – The Extra Stipend Debate – May 22, 2011
Ealey's Transfer Leaves UGA In A Bind – May 9, 2011
Russell Wilson to the SEC? – May 5, 2011
SEC Draft Review – May 4, 2011
Five Thoughts on Janoris Jenkins – April 27, 2011
Muschamp Sets New Tone For Florida – April 26, 2011
Spring Lessons Learned – SEC East – April 24, 2011
Spring Lessons Learned – SEC West – April 20, 2011
Five Thoughts On Kentucky's Spring – April 14, 2011
Five Thoughts On Bama's Calloway – April 13, 2011
Stephen Garcia, Winning! – April 6, 2011
Stephen Garcia Suspended Indefintely – April 6, 2011
Five Thoughts On Ole Miss' Spring – April 6, 2011
Five Thoughts On Auburn's Spring – April 4, 2011
Real Sports Much Ado About… – March 31, 2011
Ainge's Addictions, And What It Means For UT – March 29, 2011
Five Thoughts On Tennessee's Spring – March 29, 2011
Tressel-Gate Has Only One Conclusion – March 26, 2011
Five Thoughts on Bama's Spring – March 25, 2011
Five Thoughts on Vandy's Spring – March 24, 2011
Five Thoughts on Florida's Spring – March 23, 2011
Bama Star Arrested – March 20, 2011
Five Thoughts on South Carolina's Spring – March 16, 2011
Five Thoughts on Arkansas' Spring – March 15, 2011
Auburn Players Arrested, Dismissed – March 12, 2011
Five Thoughts on LSU's Spring – March 11, 2011
CFN Analysis – The Too Busy Offseason – March 11, 2011
Five Thoughts on Georgia's Spring – March 9, 2011
CFN Analysis – Should Jim Tressel Have Been Fired – March 8, 2011
Five Thoughts on Mississippi State's Spring – March 6, 2011
Wheels On Newton Saga Keep Spinning – February 28, 2011
Six SEC West Spring Storylines – February 24, 2011
Kiffin and the Tennessee Issue – February 23, 2011
Six SEC East Spring Storylines – February 17, 2011
CFN Analysis – The SEC Schedule – February 10, 2011
Ealey Suspension Leaves Georgia In A Bind – February 9, 2011
SEC Signing Day Review – February 3, 2011
CFN Analysis – Signing Day 2011 – February 2, 2011
Dream Team Won't Save Richt – January 31, 2011
Five Thoughts On Kragthorpe – January 24, 2011
Ridiculously Early SEC West Rankings – January 23, 2011
LSU Hires OC Four Years Too Late – January 20, 2011
Ridiculously Early SEC East Rankings – January 19, 2011
CFN Analysis: Cam Turns Pro – January 14, 2011
BCS National Championship Review – January 11, 2011
CFN Analysis: Cotton Bowl – January 8, 2011
Five Thoughts On Why Auburn Wins – January 7, 2011
Five Thoughts On Dan Quinn – January 5, 2011
Tuesday Question: Should Rich Rod Be Fired – January 4, 2011
Five Thoughts on Charlie Weis – January 4, 2011
CFN Analysis: Charlie Weis as the Florida OC – January 3, 2011
CFN Analysis: Outback Bowl – January 1, 2011
CFN Analysis: Gator Bowl – January 1, 2011
CFN Analysis: Capital One Bowl – January 1, 2011
CFN Analysis: Liberty Bowl – December 31, 2010
CFN Analysis: Music City Bowl – December 30, 2010
End Of The Season Accountability – December 27, 2010
Pryor Can't Be Compared To Newton – December 23, 2010
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 19, 2010
Malzahn Makes The Right Move – December 14, 2010
Five Thoughts on Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Florida Hires Muschamp – December 12, 2010
CFN Analysis: Cam's Heisman Landslide – December 11, 2010
Five Thoughts On Urban Meyer – December 9, 2010
Meyer Leaves Legacy, Question Marks – December 8, 2010

Click here for the 2010 regular season archive

Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive

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