SEC Country has already brought you the last time ESPN’s College GameDay visited each SEC town.
Now we take a look at when the popular pregame show could potentially visit each city in 2016. Obviously, there is no shot that GameDay will attend even half of these games, but we’ve laid out each week’s best candidates along with naming the SEC’s stiffest competition.
Each of these games looks like a winner on paper now. But who knows how appealing these matchups will be after the season gets underway? Could a matchup on nobody’s radar be a huge game?
There are a lot of unknowns, but let’s take a look at some of the best SEC matchups that could attract College GameDay in 2016:
Week 1: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Lambeau Field)
Biggest competition: Alabama vs. Southern Cal, Oklahoma at Houston
Analysis: Has College GameDay already decided on this opening week matchup? Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said he thinks it will be the location, and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said last month that it will happen, but there’s two others games that could nab the honor. Alabama-Southern Cal features two of college football’s historically dominant programs, and the contest will take place in “Jerry World” to boot. Oklahoma-Houston is another intriguing matchup, with both teams finishing in the top 10 last season. It’s probably not of the same caliber as the other two matchups, but exciting nonetheless.
Week 2: Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech (Bristol Motor Speedway)
Biggest competition: Arkansas at TCU
Analysis: The “Battle at Bristol” has also been rumored as the landing spot for GameDay in Week 2. The Vols could be playing in front of approximately 150,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway, and there’s not much other competition for the honor. The hype surrounding Tennessee will certainly add to the possibility, and the fact that it’s being played at a race track makes it especially intriguing. Virginia Tech finished with a 7-6 (4-4 ACC) record last season, but will be in its first season under new coach Justin Fuente.
Week 3: Alabama at Ole Miss
Biggest competition: Ohio State at Oklahoma, Texas at Cal
Analysis: This seems like one of the more obvious selections for GameDay, but both teams face early contests that could derail the selection. Alabama opens up with Southern Cal and Ole Miss will face off against Florida State to open up the year. If both teams enter the matchup with one loss, it’s likely that Ohio State-Oklahoma gets the bid. The Crimson Tide will be looking for revenge after falling to the Rebels the past two seasons, but Ohio State and Oklahoma should both be in the running for the College Football Playoff again this season. Which game gets the nod?
Week 4: Georgia at Ole Miss
Biggest competition: Wisconsin at Michigan State, Florida at Tennessee, LSU at Auburn
Analysis: This is another game for which the first three weeks could be big in determining the GameDay selection. The Bulldogs open up against North Carolina, and if they can get past the Tarheels, have two easy matchups (Nicholls State and Missouri) before facing off against the Rebels. Ole Miss plays Alabama in Week 3 and could potentially enter the contest with two losses. If that’s the case, rule this one out. Wisconsin-Michigan State is an exciting game on paper, while Florida-Tennessee holds major implications in the SEC East. LSU-Auburn could also be an enticing game if Auburn can get through Clemson and Texas A&M, and if LSU rolls past Wisconsin and Mississippi State.
Week 5: Tennessee at Georgia
Biggest competition: Wisconsin at Michigan, Texas at Oklahoma State
Analysis: This is another matchup that could potentially determine the SEC East. Tennessee seems like the favorite this season, but Georgia and Florida are the next most-likely candidates. There’s not too much competition around the nation in Week 5, and the Bulldogs will be looking to bounce back from last season’s 38-31 letdown in Knoxville. Nick Chubb will likely be playing against the squad that ended his season in 2015. Plenty of storylines and intrigue with this one.
Week 6: LSU at Florida
Biggest competition: Florida State at Miami, Tennessee at Texas A&M
Analysis: We all remember the Florida-LSU game from last season. Coach Les Miles dialed up a fake field goal in Baton Rouge, which ended up being the deciding score in the contest. Two of the SEC’s more storied programs will matchup in Gainesville this time around, and College GameDay could be on hand. Florida State-Miami is another game that could land the show with former Georgia coach Mark Richt facing off against a program with which he won a national title.
Week 7: Alabama at Tennessee
Biggest competition: Ohio State at Wisconsin, Ole Miss at Arkansas
Analysis: This could be the first of two matchups between the Tide and Tennessee in 2016, as both teams seem like the favorites to play in Atlanta’s SEC Championship next season. Alabama edged the Vols last season, 19-14, which was tied for the Crimson Tide’s smallest margin of victory (Clemson). All eyes will be on Knoxville in what should be another exciting matchup.
Week 8: Ole Miss at LSU
Biggest competition: Ohio State at Penn State
Analysis: Depending on how the season plays out, this one could have some big implications in the SEC West. At this point, the Rebels would have had to get through Florida State, Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas with a winning record to earn GameDay honors. LSU’s road isn’t quite as tough, but if each team enters with an undefeated or one-loss record, things get a whole lot more likely for this game. Ohio State-Penn State is really the only game on the schedule that could match this game’s hype.
Week 9: Auburn at Ole Miss
Biggest competition: Miami at Notre Dame, Michigan at Michigan State, Clemson at Florida State
Analysis: It’s very unlikely that the SEC gets GameDay in Week 9, but this would be the conference’s best bet. Michigan-Michigan State could decide the Big Ten regular season champion, as could Clemson-Florida State for the ACC. It’s unlikely that Auburn-Ole Miss will hold the same weight. Both teams feature a ton of talent, but don’t expect Lee Corso to be putting on a Tiger or Rebel mascot head for this one.
Week 10: Alabama at LSU
Biggest competition: Pittsburgh at Miami, Air Force at Army
Analysis: If you were to ask an SEC fan which game they are most excited for in the 2016 season, this is a likely answer. The Tigers and Crimson Tide have put together some unforgettable matchups the past few seasons, and they might be the two most talented teams in the conference. Leonard Fournette will be anxious for another crack at Alabama, having rushed for just 31 yards on 19 carries a year ago — with 18 of those rushing yards coming on one carry. Expect another titanic matchup here.
Week 11: LSU at Arkansas
Biggest competition: Michigan at Iowa, Ole Miss at Texas A&M,
Analysis: Arkansas probably isn’t going to win the SEC West, but it seems like Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks are always playing exciting games in the waning weeks of the regular season. Even if that’s not the case, the Razorbacks could play spoiler to a potential nation championship contender in LSU. The Razorbacks knocked off the Tigers, 31-14, last season. Still, there is probably not enough intrigue with this one for ESPN to send the GameDay crew to Fayetteville.
Week 12: Mississippi State at Arkansas
Biggest competition: Ohio State at Michigan State
Analysis: The second to last week of the regular season is usually littered with cupcake matchups. With that being the case, Mississippi State-Arkansas was the only real option in Week 12. Ohio State-Michigan State will be the obvious choice this week, especially with the way their matchup ended last season. It was one of the more exciting games of 2015, which makes the 2016 contest that much more anticipated.
Week 13: Auburn at Alabama
Biggest competition: Michigan at Ohio State, Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Analysis: Rivalry week. Will Auburn-Alabama be more intriguing than some of the other rivalries around the nation? Probably not, unless the Tigers surprise a lot of people this fall. It’s always a highly-anticipated contest, but Auburn will probably be out of the SEC West picture come Week 13 because of their extremely tough schedule. Should Auburn upset Alabama, though, College GameDay will have wished it was in Tuscaloosa.