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Sallee: Thoughts On The 2012 SEC Schedule
Could UGA and LSU meet in the Dome again?
Could UGA and LSU meet in the Dome again?
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 28, 2011


CFN SEC Columnist Barrett Sallee takes a look at the 2012 SEC schedule.

By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee


For a look at the entire SEC schedule and CFN’s early predictions, click here.

After a lengthy delay, the SEC unveiled its 2012 football schedule Wednesday morning. The revised schedule was heavily anticipated due to the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri in the conference. Which teams benefited from the new schedule and which teams didn't? Here are some thoughts.

Georgia’s season sets up nice again
Georgia gets an easy path for the second straight season. Instead of a road trip to Alabama, the Bulldogs get a road game with Missouri; and miss Alabama, Arkansas and LSU for the second straight season. Road trips to South Carolina and Auburn are the biggest hurdles Georgia must overcome to repeat. Don't blame Georgia for the easy schedule though. If Florida, Tennessee and Auburn - Georgia’s traditional rivals - were even mediocre, the path to Atlanta would be much more difficult for the Bulldogs.

Welcome to the SEC, Aggies
Texas A&M’s first season in the SEC will be just a bit challenging. The big three of Arkansas, LSU and Alabama are all separated, but the Alabama game comes at the end of a three-game road trip that includes trips to Auburn and Mississippi State. Of course, the schedule itself won’t matter all that much if the Aggies continue to only play competent football in the first halves of football games. They play 60 minutes in the SEC, and even the perceived cakewalk at Ole Miss will be a challenge if the Aggies can’t close.

Home sweet home?
Alabama won’t see its home for a while. At least, not in conference play. The Crimson Tide plays only one home SEC game (vs. Ole Miss) before the last weekend in October. It’s not as big of a problem as the Crimson Tide had last season, when it played teams coming off the bye week in its final six conference games of the season. But going on the road so much early in the season could (I said “could,” Alabama fans) create a hole that will be hard for the Tide to dig out of.

Welcome to the Tigers
Missouri enters the conference with a battle with SEC East foe Georgia on September 8 in Columbia, Mo. Pairing Missouri up with Georgia - which dominates a major media market in Atlanta - for its opener is a nice touch for Missouri, which lacks the football notoriety of fellow newcomer Texas A&M. Georgia will be a big test for Missouri early on, and if the Tigers can pull the upset, that’d qualify as a big statement.

Good luck Hugh Freeze
While the SEC did some nice things to welcome its two new members, new Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze wasn’t as fortunate. The Rebels play Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and LSU all on the road. That’d be a tough test for top tier SEC teams, and Ole Miss is about as far away from being a “top tier” SEC team as you can get.

Neutrality?
The SEC released its schedule as Arkansas vs. Texas A&M, which will be a home game for the Aggies if a neutral site isn’t found. In the past, that game was a scheduled non-conference game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas; but the SEC prohibits visits by recruits at neutral site SEC games. If you’re going to compete in the SEC West, you need every recruiting advantage you can get, so taking that series to a home-and-home format is probably smart for everybody involved.

Readjustment
The biggest change in the SEC is the adjustment of some lesser rivalries to different parts of the season. The SEC schedule had become monotonous over the last few years, with the same games being played on the same weekends almost every year. The addition of Missouri and Texas A&M forced the SEC to mix things up a bit, which will provide for a different feel throughout the season. It’ll be nice to see Georgia and South Carolina play in the middle of the season, rather than on Week 2 when neither team really has an identity yet. There still will be big games early, like Arkansas vs. Alabama, but that’s inevitable since its probably the fourth-biggest game for the Tide.

Early pick: LSU vs. Georgia for the SEC Championship for the second straight season.

Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at barrettsallee@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee



2011 Regular Season Column Archive
Thoughts On The SEC Schedule - December 28, 2011
End Of The Year Accountability - December 25, 2011
Malzahn’s Big Move - December 13, 2011
Ranking The SEC Bowls - December 10, 2011
Mathieu For Heisman - December 5, 2011
SEC Championship Game Live Thoughts - December 3, 2011
South Carolina’s Historic Season - November 28, 2011
Arkansas Needs Some Help - November 21, 2011
For Alabama, Style Matters - November 14, 2011
Missouri To The SEC Is A Good Thing - November 7, 2011
Justice For Auburn and Cam Newton - October 12, 2011
Time For The Frazier Era At Auburn - October 10, 2011
Welcome Back Georgia To The SEC Chase - October 3, 2011
Florida Is The Class Of The East - September 26, 2011
Houston Nutt’s Big Problems - September 19, 2011
South Carolina Is Legit - September 12, 2011
It’s Over For Mark Richt - September 5, 2011

Click here for the 2011 Three & Out Archive
Click Here for the 2011 offseason column archive

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