Some football programs pad their schedules with lesser opponents in non-conference play, but the 2016 season will have plenty of high-profile out-of-conference matchups.
Athlon Sports released its top 25 non-conference games for the 2016 season, and there are some good ones. Nine games featuring SEC teams are featured, including six of the top 10.
The Florida State’s matchup with Ole Miss in Orlando, Fla., is the top matchup involving an SEC team. The Seminoles and Rebels face off the Monday after college football’s opening weekend. Athlon rated that game No. 2, behind only Ohio State-Oklahoma.
The best game featuring the SEC that isn’t being played at a neutral site is Texas A&M’s home date against UCLA, which Athlon ranked third. Josh Rosen and the Bruins will likely come into that game as a top-25 team, giving the Aggies a chance for a statement win in their season opener.
The first two years of the College Football Playoff have shown that a team’s full body of work matters. A win over a tough non-conference opponent can elevate its standing with the playoff committee. SEC teams have a lot of chances for statement wins this season. They need to take advantage of those opportunities.
Here are all the games involving SEC teams on Athlon’s list:
No. 20 – Georgia vs. North Carolina (Atlanta, Ga. – Sep. 3)
No. 17 – Arkansas at TCU (Sep. 10)
No. 11 Clemson at Auburn (Sep. 3)
No. 8 – Wisconsin vs. LSU (Green Bay, Wis. – Sep. 3)
No. 7 – Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Bristol, Tenn. – Sep. 10)
No. 6 – Alabama vs. USC (Arlington, Texas – Sep. 3)
No. 5 – Florida at Florida State (Nov. 26)
No. 3 – UCLA at Texas A&M (Sep. 3)
No. 2 – Florida State vs. Ole Miss (Orlando, Fla. – Sep. 5)