Good teams win football games at home, while great ones find a way to win them on the road.
That will be the challenge facing SEC teams this fall as they jockey for position in their respective divisions.
With the rotating conference schedule, the road games in the league will be tougher for some. Throw in a few visits to non-SEC opponents, and some SEC schools will wind up with road schedules that are even more difficult.
Of course, some teams have the luxury of having smaller road schedules. It’s always easier to be successful at home, so coaches and athletic directors are always looking to maximize their home games in a season.
Here are the five SEC schools that have, at least on paper, the easiest road dates in 2016:
Schedule: TCU (Sept. 10), Auburn (Oct. 22), Mississippi State (Nov. 19) and Missouri (Nov. 26)
Opponents’ combined 2015 record: 32-19 (.627)
Road record for the past three seasons: 4-9
Overview: A Week 2 visit to Fort Worth to face TCU (and possibly former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill) looms as the most significant road test on an otherwise manageable slate.
The Horned Frogs are replacing nine starters on offense, but haven’t lost a home game since the 2013 season finale. After that, the Razorbacks won’t face another true road date until a late-October clash with Auburn.
The last two weeks of the season, Arkansas will face two teams picked at or near the bottom of their respective divisions, Mississippi State and Missouri.
4. Texas A&M
Schedule: Auburn (Sept. 17), South Carolina (Oct. 1), Alabama (Oct. 22) and Mississippi State (Nov. 5)
Opponents’ combined 2015 record: 33-20 (.623)
Road record for the past three seasons: 6-6
Overview: An October visit to the defending national champion is a daunting challenge, but the rest of the road slate sets up nicely for the Aggies.
While the Crimson Tide have lost only one home game in the past three seasons, road trips to Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State should provide more reasonable chances to notch SEC wins for Kevin Sumlin’s squad.
3. Ole Miss
Schedule: Arkansas (Oct. 15), LSU (Oct. 22), Texas A&M (Nov. 12) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 19)
Opponents’ combined 2015 record: 29-21 (.580)
Road record for the past three seasons: 7-7
Overview: The Rebels will face a four-game road schedule in 2016, highlighted by a trip to Baton Rouge in late October.
After opening the season in Orlando against Florida State on Labor Day, Ole Miss won’t face a true road game until after its bye week, when it visits Arkansas. The LSU game is followed in November by back-to-back trips to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
Schedule: Georgia (Oct. 1), Texas A&M (Oct. 8), South Carolina (Oct. 29) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 26)
Opponents’ combined 2015 record: 25-25 (.500)
Road record for the past three seasons: 5-9
Overview: Tennessee’s toughest road game will also be one of its most important when it visits SEC East rival Georgia on Oct. 1.
That month features two more road contests with Texas A&M and South Carolina before the season finale at Vanderbilt. The Volunteers are four games under .500 on their travels under Butch Jones, but this is the sort of slate that could fix that.
Schedule: Missouri (Sept. 17), Ole Miss (Sept. 24), South Carolina (Oct. 8) and Kentucky (Nov. 5)
Opponents’ combined 2015 record: 23-26 (.469)
Road record for the past three seasons: 8-5
Overview: Aside from a Sept. 24 trip to SEC West contender Ole Miss, this is not a difficult road schedule for Kirby Smart’s debut season at Georgia.
Winning in Oxford will be difficult, as the Rebels are 17-4 there in the last three seasons, but Georgia will likely be favored when it visits SEC East foes Missouri, South Carolina and Kentucky later in the season.