The SEC on Friday released its extra cross-division games for the 2020 season. As you can imagine, these changes were met with some angst among SEC nation. Schedules just got considerably more difficult for a few programs in the league — just not for the contenders. They were fed cupcakes!
Strength of schedule isn’t an easy thing to measure, but we’re going use S&P+ (via ESPN) to sort the league’s team 1-14. Let’s do that quickly before looking at winners and losers from this new scheduling announcement.
5. Texas A&M
9. South Carolina
10. Ole Miss
11. Mississippi State
Obviously, most teams in the SEC added at least one tough game to the schedule. But others were hurt far more than others. Let’s run through some of the winners and losers from this schedule addition from the SEC.
Keep in mind, we’re only look at the games added to the schedule, not the totality of a team’s 10-game slate.
Winner: LSU Tigers
Added: Vanderbilt, Missouri
LSU is living right. Not only do the Tigers take Texas off their 2020 schedule, the only two games they added are against teams that rank 12th and 14th in the league entering the season. Shoot, they even get to travel to Vanderbilt, by far the worst team in the SEC. Yes, LSU still has to play Florida, Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M this year. But this cross-division layout looks like it was crafted in Baton Rouge.
Loser: Missouri Tigers
Added: Alabama, LSU
Things looked like they were going so well in Year 1 for Eli Drinkwitz before the pandemic. The non-conference schedule featured four potential wins (Central Arkansas, Eastern Michigan, BYU, Louisiana) and cross-division games with Mississippi State and Arkansas, potentially the two worst teams from the West. Things look far less rosy now adding Alabama and LSU to the schedule.
Missouri is one of only two teams in the SEC to draw two additional top 10 opponents with the schedule rework. The other is Arkansas.
Added: Arkansas, Mississippi State
It’s not LSU-easy, but it’s pretty close for Georgia. The Bulldogs arguably drew the worst two teams in the SEC East. In some ways that makes sense given Georgia already has Alabama and Auburn on its schedule. But it could not have asked for a better set of cross-division games to go along the easier path that the SEC East creates.
Loser: Texas A&M
Added: Florida, Tennessee
This was supposed to be the year the scheduling gods smiled on Texas A&M, which doesn’t happen often in the SEC. The Aggies avoided Georgia, Florida and Tennessee in cross-division play, had a smooth slate of non-conference games and would play their two hardest games (Alabama, LSU) at season’s end. Things no longer look quite that smooth. Texas A&M added a pair of Top 25 teams in Florida and Tennessee, at least according to 247Sports’ preseason Top 25, giving the Aggies a quintet of Top 25 opponents in 10 games as opposed to previously having three across 12.
Added: Kentucky, Missouri
The contenders just keep gobbling up these cupcakes. To be fair, it’s probably time to stop sleeping on Kentucky every offseason. But it’s still been 23 years since the Wildcats have upset the Tide. Missouri, meanwhile, is a program undergoing plenty of change with a first-year coach. Alabama is going to be a multi-touchdown favorite in both of these matchups.
Added: Texas A&M, Auburn
Sorry, ‘ol Rocky Top. Your schedule went from manageable to difficult in the blink of an eye. Entering the year, Tennessee had four games (Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Alabama) that you’d consider likely losses. The Vols did drop the Sooners from their schedule, but adding Texas A&M and a trip to Auburn isn’t making things any easier. Yes, both of those games are more winnable than a road game in Norman. But Tennessee is going to be the underdog in both contests. If you just went by who Vegas would favor, the Vols just went from a schedule that looked like 8-4 to 5-5. Things probably won’t occur that way – upsets happen and teams improve – but this is a tough draw for the Vols.
Added: Arkansas, Texas A&M
The SEC could have hammered Florida and slotted Alabama from the SEC West. Instead, the Gators got a home game against Arkansas and a trip to College Station. That’s not as easy as the SEC’s other top 10 teams listed above, but the Gators’ schedule already set up easier than Georgia, LSU and Alabama. Given what could’ve been, the Gators got a pretty favorable draw here.
Added: Florida, Georgia
There are 10 games on the 2020 schedule for Arkansas. Six of them will come against preseason top 15 teams after adding Florida and Georgia to its schedule: No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Florida, No. 11 Auburn No. 13 Texas A&M.
That’s just brutal.