Adams: Schedules favor top SEC teams

John Adams
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There are two kinds of football schedules in the SEC - tough and tougher. But the slightest difference in schedules in a conference as demanding as this one can sometimes determine a championship.

When you study this year's SEC schedule, you can see why there is so much speculation about defending national champion Florida going unbeaten. You also can understand why up-and-coming Ole Miss is being touted as a championship contender and a top-10 team.

Alabama: The schedule is set up for another West Division championship. The Tide won't have to play Florida or Georgia from the East and will have two weeks to prepare for its home game against LSU.

Its biggest challenge likely will come against Ole Miss in Oxford. The Tide can only hope that a season opener in Atlanta against nationally ranked Virginia Tech will go as well as last year's season opener at the same venue against nationally ranked Clemson.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks should be improved. But their schedule is more difficult than last year when they won five games in coach Bobby Petrino's first season.

No one else in the SEC has a tougher conference road schedule: Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU and Florida.

Auburn : The Tigers' biggest challenge will be back-to-back games against LSU and Ole Miss at the end of October. But unless their offense is drastically improved, almost every weekend could be a challenge, including the season opener against Louisiana Tech.

Florida: As if the Gators didn't already have enough going their way, check out their schedule. They don't play a road game until week four against Kentucky. Then, they have two weeks to get ready for LSU, which will play at Georgia the week before it faces Florida.

The Gators' toughest road game outside of LSU is at South Carolina. They have the added advantage of dropping Ole Miss and picking up Mississippi State from the West.

Georgia: The Bulldogs have overscheduled again. In fact, the non-conference schedule will be even more difficult than last season - with road games against Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech to open and close the season, respectively.

Kentucky: The Wildcats would be better served if their open date were between Florida and Alabama instead of between Miami of Ohio and Louisville the second week of the season.

If they can get through the first half of the season without being beaten down or beaten up, they could fare much better in the second half against a schedule that includes Louisiana-Monroe, Eastern Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

LSU: The Tigers have one of the conference's toughest schedules. They play Georgia and Florida from the East on consecutive Saturdays, and their West Division games against nationally ranked Ole Miss and Alabama are on the road.

And don't be surprised if Louisiana Tech causes problems for the Tigers, who will play the Bulldogs the Saturday between their games against Alabama and Ole Miss.

Mississippi State: When you look at the schedule, it's hard to imagine the Bulldogs winning a conference game. Playing at home won't help them against Florida, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss. And their easiest conference games - against Kentucky and Vanderbilt - are on the road. Also, they play Florida the week before Kentucky.

Ole Miss: What could be the Rebels' best team since the 1960s will be complemented by a favorable schedule. Their two biggest games - against Alabama and LSU - are at home. Moreover, they don't have to play Florida or Georgia from the West.

But the open date - the week after the season opener - is wasted.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks' schedule is usually weighted toward the back end. But the first two weeks of this schedule look just as daunting.

They will open against a solid N.C. State team on the road. Then, they will play Georgia in Athens.

You can imagine what an 0-2 start would do for the confidence of a team that enters the season with three consecutive losses, all by wide margins.

Tennessee: No one would want the Vols' schedule if it were competing for a conference championship. But for a team trying to have a winning season, there's an advantage in playing its three highest ranked opponents - Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss - on the road.

It's highly unlikely that a home-field advantage could tilt those games in UT's favor. But the Neyland Stadium crowd could make the difference in games against Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.

UT's open date - smackdab in the middle of the season - is well placed. After back-to-back games against Auburn and Georgia, a team whose depth of talent is questionable could use an open date before playing Alabama and South Carolina on consecutive Saturdays.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores have the misfortune of having to play LSU and Ole Miss from the West. They also might be at a disadvantage against Kentucky, the team they likely will have to beat to avoid a last-place finish in the division.

The Commodores will play South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Florida before Kentucky. The Wildcats will play Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi State and Eastern Kentucky leading up to Vanderbilt.

And how about the Commodores' open date? It's in week 13, the week before the SEC championship game.

Just in the nick of time, huh?

Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 47

RJ_Vol writes:

How about the issue of having to continually go to the Swamp in early September while enduring brutal heat...It's been a huge advantage for the Gators! But the Gators never have to play in Knoxville in November when it's to our advantage. We've had this schedule discrepancy for far too long. Let's move the rivalry to November and even out the weather advantage. I could care less about the FSU rivalry which is the reason the cowards mention when UT wants to move the game. They certainly didn't care when we had to basically play UGA and Floriday back-to-back. Hamilton needs earn his a portion of his salary and fix our atrocious scheduling issues. How about UGA in November, or even Bama? No, we always play our rivals when it's to their advantage w/ the weather. Let's show some smarts and turn the tables. Any advantage in a highly competitive league is important.

OldSmokey writes:

in response to RJ_Vol:

How about the issue of having to continually go to the Swamp in early September while enduring brutal heat...It's been a huge advantage for the Gators! But the Gators never have to play in Knoxville in November when it's to our advantage. We've had this schedule discrepancy for far too long. Let's move the rivalry to November and even out the weather advantage. I could care less about the FSU rivalry which is the reason the cowards mention when UT wants to move the game. They certainly didn't care when we had to basically play UGA and Floriday back-to-back. Hamilton needs earn his a portion of his salary and fix our atrocious scheduling issues. How about UGA in November, or even Bama? No, we always play our rivals when it's to their advantage w/ the weather. Let's show some smarts and turn the tables. Any advantage in a highly competitive league is important.

Good post.

1974Vol writes:

4-4 would be a great SEC record. Add that to 4-0 in non conference and its a great year. And here's a paradox for you Vol fans will be so hungary for a bowl that an 8-4 Vol team will probably get a New Years day date on the bowl committee's anticipation that the Vol Nation will show up! Imagine that!

RJ_Vol writes:

in response to BrutoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get a grip, Gator. The truth hurts.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to RJ_Vol:

How about the issue of having to continually go to the Swamp in early September while enduring brutal heat...It's been a huge advantage for the Gators! But the Gators never have to play in Knoxville in November when it's to our advantage. We've had this schedule discrepancy for far too long. Let's move the rivalry to November and even out the weather advantage. I could care less about the FSU rivalry which is the reason the cowards mention when UT wants to move the game. They certainly didn't care when we had to basically play UGA and Floriday back-to-back. Hamilton needs earn his a portion of his salary and fix our atrocious scheduling issues. How about UGA in November, or even Bama? No, we always play our rivals when it's to their advantage w/ the weather. Let's show some smarts and turn the tables. Any advantage in a highly competitive league is important.

I've never quite pictured Knoxville as being in the frigid north. But I do know that it has been known to get pretty hot and humid just like G'ville so I don't think there is that much advantage either way. However, the Georgia and SC games have been all over the calendar and even Bama, Vandy and Kentuck have moved a bit. I wouldn't mind seeing Fla in October if not November.

JA,
Could you ask Pennington to do a little research and prove whether an open date gives anyone an advantage? I've heard he knows how to use a calculator.

DennisVols writes:

What it all comes down to is, no matter where you play the field is 100 yards long between the goal lines and 50 yards wide. Each team uses 11 players at a time.
The one who makes the least mistakes will usually wins.

KennyPowers_UTfan writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I've never quite pictured Knoxville as being in the frigid north. But I do know that it has been known to get pretty hot and humid just like G'ville so I don't think there is that much advantage either way. However, the Georgia and SC games have been all over the calendar and even Bama, Vandy and Kentuck have moved a bit. I wouldn't mind seeing Fla in October if not November.

JA,
Could you ask Pennington to do a little research and prove whether an open date gives anyone an advantage? I've heard he knows how to use a calculator.

I'm here to tell ya boys, if we could get them Gators in Knoxville in the winter, we'd at least be able to keep them games closer in the end. I'm the biggest UT fan east of the Mississippie and Tim Tebow wouldn't be able to run over our guys if it weren't so darn hot! I hope we don't wear them black uniforms neither! How hot would that be while chasing down them dudes that chase rabbits?

teampenny#658108 writes:

in response to BrutoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It is not Gators fault we were 5-7 last year. Quit calling us cream puffs. Go Vols

KennyPowers_UTfan writes:

in response to DennisVols:

What it all comes down to is, no matter where you play the field is 100 yards long between the goal lines and 50 yards wide. Each team uses 11 players at a time.
The one who makes the least mistakes will usually wins.

Here, here!! That's a smart post! GO VOLS!!

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to FirstAmendment:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Since that's the way you look at it, that'll give you 4 weeks to get all of your guys out of jail. It would be advisable to at least get them out on work release by 9/19.

KennyPowers_UTfan writes:

in response to teampenny#658108:

It is not Gators fault we were 5-7 last year. Quit calling us cream puffs. Go Vols

I'm not one to get real angry unless my truck won't start or I can't find my copenhagen or something, but calling my Vols a creempuff riles this ol' boy up! We ain;t no cremem-puffs! I respect them ol' boys from Florda, I know they can play some football, but my Vols ain't creem-puffs! Take that back!

smyrnavol writes:

brutovol= gotorzz

smyrnavol writes:

in response to smyrnavol:

brutovol= gotorzz

oops. gatorzz!

1974Vol writes:

Anyone who was at the '91 UCLA game knows it gets hot in K-town in September! Their coach at the time (sports broadcaster now - name escapes me) whined about the heat and how EMS was treating Smokey the dog mascot ahead of his players. Only advantage I see playing Gators late is when we get good again it heightens the drama. Besides this years game is on CBS 3:45 KO 4th quarter will be after dark.

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to BrutoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Played in sub-freezing weather? Well, aren't you guys just really special.... How dare the SEC subject the whiney-baby Gators to such extreme conditions.

When are you guys going to start acting like 2x National Champs rather than a bunch of whiney brats?

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to FirstAmendment:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Woof, woof! I thought we were talking about 9/19? And aren't you the guy that always claims history started when lil' Urbie arrived in G'ville? That means that during the history of lil' Urbie, 27 Gators have been arrested.

"Yah, officer, I popped off a clip of AK-47 rounds in the apartment parking lot. But I didn't hit anybody. Quit pickin' on me."

"But ... but ... officer. That girl has been dead for quite a while. Why should she care if I use her credit card? Quit pickin' on me."

When are you guys going to start acting like 2x National Champs rather than a bunch of whiney wimps?

Berry14 writes:

I cannot wait until Florida loses Timmy and the gang. :)

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to BrutoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Who is Lucille? Why is it every time some of us start throwin' barbs back at you whiney wimps you start talking to Lucille? Is Lucille your mom or your sister?

WHAT superior squad? Right know your '09 record is the same as ours. I guess then we too can say we are a ... tada ... superior squad.

When are you guys going to start acting like 2x National Champs rather than a bunch of little girls?

RJ_Vol writes:

Interesting facts from NOAA...
The average highs in Knoxville...
September 19 (80 degrees)
November 30 (54 degrees)

The average lows for Knoxville...
September 19 (60 degrees)
November 30 (35 degrees)

Quite a difference! In Gainesville, the average high in January is 66. Knoxville's average high in late November is colder than the heart of winter in Gainesville. As I've said before, I spent two years of my life in Orlando. Folks there wear the heavy coats at around fifty degrees. With a roster full of native Floridians, it is only natural that they would suffer w/ a high of 54 degrees in November in Knoxville. Once could only guess what temperatures a night game might bring. BTW, the record low for that date is 8 degrees. Now some Florida fans will consider this whining. Of course, when you have a decided advantage you'll cry foul so as not to lose that advantage. So let me ask you Gators this question. What was the score the last time the Vols and Gators played late in the season? Vols 34-32 on December 1, 2001. It cost Florida a shot at the National Title.

As for an early post stating we aren't the frigid north. Indeed, that is true. However, if we went north(about at much as UF goes to play us by latitude), we would be playing in roughly central Michigan. Do you think the Wolverines might have an advantage over the Vols in late November? In other words, our climate is significantly different here in November when compared to Florida, much as us compared to central Michigan during a similar time frame.

The Gators take advantage of the weather. Why not us?

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to BrutoVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

When are you guys going to start acting like National Champs rather than a bunch of overly sensitive little girls?

99gator writes:

if only the wyoming game were played in september.

then, tennessee would have had the weather advantage needed against the mighty cowboys.

the problem is blocking, tackling, etc, etc, etc.

if you get better at those things, you'd be amazed how the weather doesn't matter.

RJ_Vol writes:

in response to 99gator:

if only the wyoming game were played in september.

then, tennessee would have had the weather advantage needed against the mighty cowboys.

the problem is blocking, tackling, etc, etc, etc.

if you get better at those things, you'd be amazed how the weather doesn't matter.

Chuckle. I don't disagree w/ the Wyoming point. You forgot throwing interceptions to opposing lineman four feet away! I don't want to imagine what would have happened in the Wyoming cold.

Nonetheless...I stand my ground on the weather. It has had huge impacts on ballgames in the past and will in the future. I can think of a rainstorm in Knoxville that cost the Gators a win...shut down Spurrier's air attack. The heat in Florida is a major advantage. I've been in the Swamp. I've also been in Neyland in late November, many times at that. It would be a huge advantage to the Vols. No doubt in my mind. If it's not a big deal...work on the Gators to move the date. If we play the Gators in November, the trend will be our friend.

NobodyCares (Inactive) writes:

in response to 99gator:

if only the wyoming game were played in september.

then, tennessee would have had the weather advantage needed against the mighty cowboys.

the problem is blocking, tackling, etc, etc, etc.

if you get better at those things, you'd be amazed how the weather doesn't matter.

99, probably would not have made any difference ... we still would have lost!

But the good news would have been that we could have sent Fulmer packing earlier!

And OBTW, we ARE getting better at those things and the weather will not matter. Stay tuned...

VOLatMTSU writes:

in response to KennyPowers_UTfan:

Here, here!! That's a smart post! GO VOLS!!

KENNY POWERS YOU SIR JUST MADE MY NIGHT......

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

UT fans are setting themselves up for a big letdown. We have great coaches and having great recruits come in, but be realistic. Best we should hope for is 8-4. When Ole Miss and Ky or S.C. beats us, don't get too down. We'll still get a bowl bid and start next yr on those 10-2 and 11-1 years.

Razzle writes:

in response to smyrnavol:

brutovol= gotorzz

Ok I remember him now. He's that guy that cleans all those toilets at the Memphis Liberty Bowl.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

There is a reason why they play these games.

To see what actually happens.

Two of the few constants this fall for my bunch is Killian's Red and wearing Orange.

Most of the rest is up in the air. We pay to see what transpires.

In a few days.

FatherVol writes:

in response to KennyPowers_UTfan:

I'm here to tell ya boys, if we could get them Gators in Knoxville in the winter, we'd at least be able to keep them games closer in the end. I'm the biggest UT fan east of the Mississippie and Tim Tebow wouldn't be able to run over our guys if it weren't so darn hot! I hope we don't wear them black uniforms neither! How hot would that be while chasing down them dudes that chase rabbits?

I'm wondering why UT players can't just run over Florida players in the heat. Most years we recruit players of similar quality so that shouldn't be a concern. Could it have something to do with conditioning the hunger in the belly rather that the heat and humidity? Or maybe the oversized coaches got worn out in the heat and dropped the ball in the second half because they were fatigued.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

There is a reason why they play these games.

To see what actually happens.

Two of the few constants this fall for my bunch is Killian's Red and wearing Orange.

Most of the rest is up in the air. We pay to see what transpires.

In a few days.

Burma Shave?

CoverOrange writes:

in response to RJ_Vol:

Interesting facts from NOAA...
The average highs in Knoxville...
September 19 (80 degrees)
November 30 (54 degrees)

The average lows for Knoxville...
September 19 (60 degrees)
November 30 (35 degrees)

Quite a difference! In Gainesville, the average high in January is 66. Knoxville's average high in late November is colder than the heart of winter in Gainesville. As I've said before, I spent two years of my life in Orlando. Folks there wear the heavy coats at around fifty degrees. With a roster full of native Floridians, it is only natural that they would suffer w/ a high of 54 degrees in November in Knoxville. Once could only guess what temperatures a night game might bring. BTW, the record low for that date is 8 degrees. Now some Florida fans will consider this whining. Of course, when you have a decided advantage you'll cry foul so as not to lose that advantage. So let me ask you Gators this question. What was the score the last time the Vols and Gators played late in the season? Vols 34-32 on December 1, 2001. It cost Florida a shot at the National Title.

As for an early post stating we aren't the frigid north. Indeed, that is true. However, if we went north(about at much as UF goes to play us by latitude), we would be playing in roughly central Michigan. Do you think the Wolverines might have an advantage over the Vols in late November? In other words, our climate is significantly different here in November when compared to Florida, much as us compared to central Michigan during a similar time frame.

The Gators take advantage of the weather. Why not us?

The difference between Michigan and Tennessee is that Michigan is much more likely to be below freezing in November and have snow on the ground. I could see snow or rain being a factor much more than just being slightly chilled (40 F). When was the last time there was snow on the ground at Neyland on game day? Of course, with Algore's global warming, November will be as warm as September in a few years anyway.

Razzle writes:

in response to PerdedorVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No I meant the stadium memphis state plays in.

VOLinATL writes:

UGA's road game against GTech is not much of road game. More than half the crowd will be in red.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

Burma Shave?

You trying to show your age, Turbo?

Only a geezer would know about Burma Shave.

You probably heard of Stockton Atkins.

lildhoss76ut#638162 writes:

We are in the SEC there are no easy schedules in conference it comes down to the out of conference games.When it comes to football usually the temperature doesnt matter as much as the weather.The heat causes cramps but that affects both teams thats why we have have practices during the summer and early fall to condition the body for extreme conditions.

TommyJack writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

You trying to show your age, Turbo?

Only a geezer would know about Burma Shave.

You probably heard of Stockton Atkins.

and Motor Courts advertising Steam Heat.

volatil writes:

in response to DennisVols:

What it all comes down to is, no matter where you play the field is 100 yards long between the goal lines and 50 yards wide. Each team uses 11 players at a time.
The one who makes the least mistakes will usually wins.

Really Joe Biddle?

GerryOP writes:

in response to DennisVols:

What it all comes down to is, no matter where you play the field is 100 yards long between the goal lines and 50 yards wide. Each team uses 11 players at a time.
The one who makes the least mistakes will usually wins.

Don't want to quibble over details, but it is usually the team that scores the most points that wins.

37 -- Fear The Kiffin...

TommyJack writes:

Bout time for KNS to bring out the needle for dc, zz, aka Bruto & first amendment. These guys wore thin months ago.

bemami writes:

I think too many SEC teams play weak opponents at the start of season ( see any SEC team schedule)or the week before a big game, such as Alabama playing UTC before Auburn.

Most SEC teams play 3-4 such games, say 25% or 33% of their 12 game schedule.

Teams such as Southern Cal and Notre Dame play good teams throughout the season, most years.

I know SEC teams do well in the post-season, but it's hard to have much respect for the way they get there.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Don't want to quibble over details, but it is usually the team that scores the most points that wins.

37 -- Fear The Kiffin...

I would like to take this opportunity to thank GerryOp for donning the mantle of the departed Ashley.

Man has a razor sharp mind to keep up with the days until the Vol dismantling machine kicks into action.

Just think of it, orange hordes decending into Knoxburg with libations to view the tilt.

And they talk about ancient Rome with it's colosseum.

Ralph_Crampton writes:

When Neyland coached the Vols..the Gators, Bulldogs and LSU chose not to play the Vols rarely if any time. One coach of the above three stated that playing a Neyland-coached Tennessee team was like " having four teeth pulled without novacaine."

Ralph_Crampton writes:

Once Bob Neyland, the Tennessee football coach and the Vols were on a streak whereby he only lost one game 66 games...called the college football rankings as popularity polls..not real rankings...some suggested his Vols challenge the top team to a game after the season at Yankee stadium for "the milk fund for New York children", the offer was never accepted. Knute Rockne stated that Bob Neyland was the top coach in college football...and said that on several occasions.

rockytop#413695 writes:

in response to bemami:

I think too many SEC teams play weak opponents at the start of season ( see any SEC team schedule)or the week before a big game, such as Alabama playing UTC before Auburn.

Most SEC teams play 3-4 such games, say 25% or 33% of their 12 game schedule.

Teams such as Southern Cal and Notre Dame play good teams throughout the season, most years.

I know SEC teams do well in the post-season, but it's hard to have much respect for the way they get there.

Yeah, we have to schedule a few easy games because every conference game we play is so tough! USC gets all their creampuffs in conference games. And Notre Dame? well I think their whole schedule this year is a creampuff with one or two exceptions. Also, keep in mind the SEC has a conference championship game unlike the Little 10 or Pacify 10, which gives an extra tough game for the eventual national champion.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

You trying to show your age, Turbo?

Only a geezer would know about Burma Shave.

You probably heard of Stockton Atkins.

Old enough to know better but too young to know why.

Nope, never heard of Mr. Atkins. Google knows all, though.

volhome writes:

For one, I prefer to throw all the names in a hat (okay, a computer) and let it randomly set your conference schedule. Sure, you will lose some traditional dates or times in the year when you play other teams, but the real tradition is what occurs on the field, the date be hanged. With that we could stand a chance to play Vandy in September, Florida in October, and Alabama in November, and that would be a real shake-up. BUT, money talks and I don't have enough to pay for that in the big scheme of things.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to DennisVols:

What it all comes down to is, no matter where you play the field is 100 yards long between the goal lines and 50 yards wide. Each team uses 11 players at a time.
The one who makes the least mistakes will usually wins.

Actually, the college field is 160 feet wide, which is 53.3 yards. All the other stuff you said is a bit more accurate.

bemami writes:

in response to rockytop#413695:

Yeah, we have to schedule a few easy games because every conference game we play is so tough! USC gets all their creampuffs in conference games. And Notre Dame? well I think their whole schedule this year is a creampuff with one or two exceptions. Also, keep in mind the SEC has a conference championship game unlike the Little 10 or Pacify 10, which gives an extra tough game for the eventual national champion.

I see your point about a league championship game. Other conferences should add such a game.

But the Pac-10 is hardly a cream puff conference, is it? Both Cal and UCLA beat UT the last two years. Playing a Pac-10 team is not like playing W. Ky., W.Carolina, UTC, or Ohio U. Should I mention Wyoming?

As for ND, they too beat UT last time around, as did Penn State, from what you call the Little 10.

IF UT had played Pac-10 or Big 10 teams the last few years instead of its usual patsies, UT's record would have been even worse. Or much, much worse. That seems obvious.

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