The SEC West is a veritable gauntlet. It seems like every team in the division is capable of beating anybody on any given Saturday. And thus competing for a SEC Championship and a national championship.
Between Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Arkansas and LSU, there are more than a few national championship hopefuls and quite possibly all seven could find themselves in a bowl game, just like last season.
It is no surprise then to see the SEC West teams have some of the toughest schedules in the nation. Two though rise above the rest.
CBS Sports ranked the five toughest schedules in the nation this season and had Alabama and Auburn in the top five. Alabama has the third toughest schedule and Auburn the fifth toughest.
“You can argue that everybody in the SEC West plays a difficult schedule every single year, but none of them play one tougher than Alabama’s this season,” Tom Fornelli of CBS sports writes. “If the Crimson Tide are going to defend their title and get back to the CFP for the third time in its three year existence, it’s not going to be easy.
The season will begin against USC in Jerry World, which props up a nonconference schedule that really isn’t all that difficult (sorry, Western Kentucky, Kent State and Chattanooga). No, what makes Alabama’s schedule a bit daunting is the SEC portion of it. The Tide will have to play Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU on the road this season. Those last three games all come within a five-week span.
When it’s all said and done, Alabama will have played 10 teams that had winning records in 2015.”
The SEC West gauntlet certainly is the highlight of Alabama’s schedule. The trips to Knoxville and Baton Rouge will certainly be the toughest on the schedule. Both Tennessee and LSU are teams many believe will compete for a spot in the playoff. And a trip to Oxford to take on Ole Miss is no cake walk.
The highlight home game might very well be Auburn at the end of the season. All of the Tide’s big games are on the road or on a neutral site — like against USC.
Auburn’s schedule has its own difficulties.
The Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa, Athens and Oxford. Those are three tough games to add to the usual SEC West gauntlet and a home game against Clemson.
Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss got honorable mentions in the next five. It is very clear the SEC West will be as tough as ever with good teams and difficult schedules to boot.