The SEC has upped its focus on improving non-conference schedules during recent seasons, but the league still is not considered among college football’s elite in that area.
FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman released a list of the 10 toughest non-conference schedules for the 2016 football season, and there was not a SEC team to be found on the list.
The league’s Week 1 schedule includes seven quality Power 5 opponents, which are in bold type below:
|Thurs., Sept. 1||South Carolina at Vanderbilt|
|Thurs., Sept. 1||Appalachian State at Tennessee|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Louisiana Tech at Arkansas|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Clemson at Auburn|
|Sat., Sept. 3||UMass at Florida|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Georgia vs. North Carolina (Atlanta)|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Southern Miss at Kentucky|
|Sat., Sept. 3||LSU vs. Wisconsin (Green Bay)|
|Sat., Sept. 3||South Alabama at Mississippi State|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Missouri at West Virginia|
|Sat., Sept. 3||Alabama vs. Southern Cal (Arlington)|
|Sat., Sept. 3||UCLA at Texas A&M|
|Mon., Sept. 5||Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Orlando)|
Those games, plus the Week 2 Battle at Bristol between the Vols and Virginia Tech add to the standard end-of-season rivalries (Florida St. vs. Florida, Clemson vs. South Carolina, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech) to make for a good set of non-conference games to watch this season.
But no one single team has assembled a four-game slate tough enough to receive recognition on Feldman’s list, which leans very heavily toward the Pac-12.
USC and UCLA hold the top two spots on the list. Given that the league plays a nine-game conference schedule, it’s easy to see why the Trojans’ game against Alabama and Bruins’ meeting with Texas A&M move them up the list.
Florida State, which ranked No. 6 on the list, has games against Ole Miss and Florida this season. Virginia Tech and Louisville each made the list with SEC opponents on the schedule as well.