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Sallee Blog: Top 5 SEC Non-Conference Games
Alabama QB Greg McElroy
Alabama QB Greg McElroy
Posted Jul 6, 2009

The SEC schedule boasts some intriguing non-conference games in 2009. Here are the top five match-ups to pencil into your viewing schedule.

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The SEC in-conference schedule is always a monster year-in and year-out, so non-conference games can prove to be a real challenge for SEC teams for a variety of reasons. Fans of other conferences often criticize the SEC for not scheduling tough out-of-conference games, while seemingly forgetting the fact that in-conference games comprise the majority of a schedule, and generally are more important to the success or failure of any given season. Nonetheless, many SEC teams are making a concerted effort to take on all-comers. These five matchups in 2009 are more than “just a little somethin' to break the monotony.” ($1 to the Fresh Prince)

1. Virginia Tech vs. Alabama
Previous game for Virginia Tech:
Previous game for Alabama: None
The second installment of the Chick-Fil-A College Kickoff Classic in Atlanta, Ga., will again feature the Alabama Crimson Tide. For the second year in a row, an ACC team rolls in to face the Tide, but this time, that team brings a little more formidable of a challenge than Clemson did last year. The Virgina Tech Hokies, led by longtime head coach Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster, will boast a veteran D led by senior FS Kam Chancellor. This game was the spring board to an undefeated regular season last year for the Crimson Tide. Likely starting QB Greg McElroy will have a tough test in his first start as Alabama starting QB, trying to maneuver through that Hokie D without departed OL Andre Smith and RB Glen Coffee. This game screams of a 17-14 slug fest – the way southern football should be.

2. Georgia at Oklahoma State
Previous game for Georgia:
Previous game for Oklahoma State: None
In the first game of 2007, the Bulldogs welcomed the Cowboys to the world of southern football to the tune of a 35-14 butt-whippin' in Athens. After that game, not much was thought of the return trip that the Bulldogs would make to start the 2009 season. Things have changed. Oklahoma State enters the season as a chic pick to win the Bix XII, and possibly contend for the National Championship. Dynamic QB/WR combo Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant will look to pick on a UGA secondary that is without Asher Allen. Offensively, the Bulldogs will be looking to break in new QB Joe Cox against a Cowboy defense that, even by Big XII standards, was mediocre last season, giving up 406 yards per game. Just like Bama/Va Tech, this game will be fun, but for different reasons. I'll take the over – whatever it is.

3. Georgia at Georgia Tech
Previous game for Georgia:
vs. Kentucky
Previous game for Georgia Tech: The Bye Week
Georgia will enter this game looking for revenge, after an embarrassing 45-42 loss last season to Georgia Tech – the first Bulldog loss to the Yellow Jackets since 2000. Bulldog defensive coordinator Willie Martinez took a lot of heat after the loss to the Jackets last season, and will have 12 months of triple option nightmares to stew on when he walks into Bobby Dodd Stadium this November. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson was honored as ACC Coach of the Year in his first season on the Flats, and that was largely without players that suit his system. Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt and Co. will be looking to prove that 2008 was no fluke. This rivalry bills itself as “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.” That will become more apparent this year, as it's competitive again for the first time this decade.

4. West Virginia at Auburn
Previous game for WVU:
vs. East Carolina
Previous game for Auburn: vs. Mississippi State
This game marked the beginning of the end for the Tommy Tuberville era at Auburn last season, as the Mountaineers, led by speedy RB Noel Devine, ripped off 31 unanswered points en route to a 34-17 win in Morgantown. In 2009, West Virginia comes to the Plains the third week of the season, for a Saturday night tilt against a re-tooled Auburn team led by new head coach Gene Chizik. Chizik, who made his mark as a defensive coordinator, will have to hope that there are no lingering memories of that meltdown in Morgantown, otherwise he could be in for a long night in his first tough test as Auburn's head coach. Tuberville had been known to recruit speed on defense, so there should be enough to stop the Mountaineer spread attack. It didn't work last year. We will see in mid-September if that was just an aberration during a miserable season, or a trend of things to come.

5. LSU at Washington
Previous game for LSU:
Previous game for Washington: None
I know, I know...before I get bombarded with e-mails proclaiming that Washington, who was winless in 2008, is no match for LSU, save it. I already know. That's not the point here. Any time an SEC team travels to the west coast, it's always a good watch. And, there aren't many settings out there that are more picturesque than a game at Husky Stadium. This game should be a rout, but LSU has had some trouble with Pac-10 teams that they should beat on opening night before (see: Oregon State). New Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian brings his USC pedigree to Seattle, and will be looking to make a huge statement in his first game at Washington. Not likely, but it can't get much worse than 0-12, can it? Above all else, it should make for an outstanding atmosphere, and a nice way to finish up opening night - football by the bay and a 10:30 p.m. ET start. That should give LSU fans more than enough time to get adequately “prepared.”

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

2009 Archive:
Top 5 SEC Non-Conference Games – July 6, 2009
SEC Blogger Roundtable Discussion, Part 3 – June 16, 2009
Bama Put On Notice – June 11, 2009
Coaches Ballots Should Be Public – May 27, 2009
SEC Blogger Roundtable Discussion, Part 2 – May 24, 3009
Ranking The SEC Coaches – May 9, 2009
SEC Blogger Roundtable Discussion, Part 1 – April 26, 2009
Live Auburn A-Day Blog – April 18, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 16, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 12, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 9, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 3, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 30, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 26, 2009
Keep The Cocktail Party In Jacksonville – March 23, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 18, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 15, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 11, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 7, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 3, 2009
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – February 28, 2009
Another Misstep For Lane Kiffin – February 14, 2009
New Rule Could Take Points Off The Scoreboard – February 12, 2009
Kiffin Swings at Meyer … And Misses Badly – February 5, 2009
Playoffs … Be Careful What You Wish For – February 4, 2009
UGA Loses RB Samuel For Spring Practice - January 28, 2009
Alabama Signs Coach Away From Auburn - January 21, 2009
America Deserves a USC vs. SEC Title Game – January 10, 2009
Chizik Putting Together A Solid Staff – January 6, 2009

Click here for the 2008 archive

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