Sallee Blog: Top SEC Out-Of-Conference Games
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson
Posted Aug 21, 2010

CFN SEC columnist Barrett Sallee ranks the top five SEC out-of-conference games in 2010.

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

The SEC is almost universally regarded as the top conference in college football. The week-in, week-out battle that takes place during an SEC season is unmatched, and often unrecognized, in other parts of the country. But the SEC plays some tough out-of-conference games as well. Here are the top five out-of-conference games in 2010:

1. Penn State at Alabama – September 11
This will be a big early-season test for an Alabama team that will still be figuring things out on defense. Penn State is expected to contend for the conference championship in a Big Ten that's going to be better than it has been in recent years. Everyone's pointing to Florida and Arkansas as possible stumbling blocks on Alabama's schedule, but the Nittany Lions are no slouch either. Penn State head coach Joe Paterno will be trotting out an untested quarterback (Matt McGloin, Kevin Newsome or Robert Bolden) in front of 100,000 people at the newly renovated Bryant-Denny Stadium. Not an easy task.
Prediction: Alabama over Penn State (close)

2. LSU vs. North Carolina – September 4
LSU head coach Les Miles is firmly implanted on the hot seat, and is in desperate need of a big year. Big problem though – his out-of-conference schedule isn't going to do him any favors. The Tigers open the season in the Georgia Dome against the North Carolina Tarheels – arguably one of the best defenses in the country. If LSU's offense sputters out of the gate, as it did all of last season, the frustration in Baton Rouge could build to a fever pitch before the Tigers even play a home game. Suggestion – get Russell Shepard the ball early and often.
Prediction: UNC over LSU (in an ugly game)

3. Clemson at Auburn – September 18
Clemson will be heading to Auburn still searching for a replacement for the recently-departed C.J. Spiller, with junior Jamie Harper and sophomore Andre Ellington being the likely candidates. Returning four starters on the offensive line should make that transition a little smoother though. They do get quarterback Kyle Parker back, after he agreed to a contract with Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies that allows him to play football for Clemson in 2010. This game will feature an interesting battle between Clemson's rebuilt offense and an Auburn defense that will still be looking for depth.
Prediction: Auburn over Clemson (close)

4. Florida at Florida State – November 26
This intra-state rivalry has been a one-sided affair lately, with the Gators toppling the Seminoles each of the last six years. While that still may be the case in 2010, it's not going to be as easy as it has been in the past. Despite having no defense to speak of, AP pollsters think highly of Florida State's chances in 2010, ranking them No. 20 in the preseason AP Poll. Quarterback Christian Ponder will provide a challenge to the Gators defense; but in the end, talent will win out and Florida will prevail for the seventh straight season.
Prediction: Florida over Florida State (big)

5. West Virginia at LSU – September 25
LSU's offense will be tested by the UNC Tarheels the first week of September. In the final week of September, it's the Tiger defense that will have its hands full. West Virginia rolls into town to close out college football's first month, complete with Heisman-caliber running back Noel Devine and senior wide receiver Jock Sanders. The Mountaineers are expected to be contenders for the Big East title, which may not impress many SEC fans, but it certainly means that they can hang with an LSU team that's chock-full of question marks. The Mountaineers have had success against the SEC of late, defeating Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl at the Georgia Dome and Auburn in 2008 in Morgantown.
Prediction: West Virginia over LSU (shootout)

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

Click here for the 2010 Three & Out archive

Off-Season Column Archive:
Ranking The SEC Out-Of-Conference Games – August 21, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part IV – August 10, 2010
SEC Teams In The Coaches Poll – August 7, 2010
Ranking The SEC Head Coaches – August 2, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 3 Recap – July 23, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 2 Recap – July 22, 2010
SEC Media Days: Day 1 Recap – July 21, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part III – July 13, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part II – June 21, 2010
Auburn Gets The Last Laugh – June 10, 2010
Realignment – What Should The SEC Do? – June 9, 2010
SEC Roundtable Discussion Part I – June 7, 2010
Richt On The Hot Seat? – June 3, 2010
Auburn Dismisses Redshirt Freshman RB – May 21, 2010
SEC Hires of the Decade – The Bottom Five – May 14, 2010
Top 5 SEC Hires of the Decade – May 5, 2010
Georgia In A Gray Area – April 26, 2009
Taunting Rule Goes Too Far – April 16, 2009
Memorable SEC Press Conferences – February 20, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 2 – February 18, 2009
2010 Early SEC Picks, Part 1 – February 16, 2009
Florida Reaches For DC – February 12, 2009
Vols Go West For New DC – February 3, 2009
Early 2010 SEC Predictions – January 31, 2010
Chizik Doing It Right – January 21, 2010
Georgia's DC Debacle – January 12, 2010
SEC Bloggers: Do Over – January 8, 2010
Trouble In Baton Rouge – January 2, 2010
Meyer Calls A Reverse – December 27, 2009
Urban Meyer's SEC Legacy – December 26, 2009
End Of The Season Accountability – December 26, 2009
Ranking The SEC Bowl Games – December 18, 2009
2009 SEC Superlatives – December 13, 2009

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