The road there, though, is long and tough and there are several stretches of the schedule that will determine just how accurate my predictions are. Let’s take a look at the schedule by month to see who does have the toughest stretch.
The Tigers do have Northwestern State in week two, but the other three weeks in September they face Oregon (neutral site), Mississippi State in Starkville and West Virginia in Morgantown. Both LSU and Oregon could have players suspended for the opener which makes this game more difficult to predict. As if playing the Ducks wasn’t bad enough while other teams feast on cupcakes, the road games against the Bulldogs and Mountaineers make this the toughest stretch for September.
Runner-up: Georgia opens in Atlanta versus Boise State and hosts South Carolina in week two. Week four versus Ole Miss in Oxford makes this a tough call, but the Bulldogs stay in the state of Georgia for three of the first four weeks.
There are five Saturdays in October and Auburn will have to fight like crazy to avoid an 0-5 month. Road trips to South Carolina and Arkansas, Florida at home, a visit to Baton Rouge and then a visit from Ole Miss makes this the toughest stretch of games for any team in the conference this year. If Auburn expects to have better than a .500 season, they will have to take care of business in October.
Runners-up: Florida and Tennessee also have killer Octobers, but the Gators have an off week before the Georgia game on October 29th and the Vols play Buffalo on October 1st. Florida hosts Alabama and then travels successively to LSU and Auburn before wrapping up the month with Georgia in Jacksonville. The Volunteers host Georgia and LSU, travel to Alabama and then finishes October hosting South Carolina.
If the first two months of the season are kind to the Razorbacks, they’ll have to work hard in November to finish off a special season. They host South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi State before their season finale in Baton Rouge against LSU.
I’ve predicted South Carolina to go 11-1 and earn a return trip to Atlanta. That’s clearly uncharted territory for Gamecock football. Like with Arkansas, to complete this special season, much work will have to be done in November. They start the month at Arkansas, host Florida, play a tune-up game against The Citadel and then finish on the road versus in-state rival Clemson.