Muschamp offers spring assessment, shares his message to team for offseason
LSU and South Carolina face the toughest nonconference schedules in the SEC heading into the 2019-20 football season.
Here are the rankings from toughest to easiest:
Aug. 31 Georgia Southern; Sept. 7 at Texas; Sept. 14 Northwestern State; Oct. 5 Utah State
Overview: LSU is coming off its first 10-win season since 2013 with the Tigers winning five nonconference games including wins over ranked teams in Miami and UCF. Ed Orgeron’s team travels to Austin for the first time since the mid-1950s with the Tigers looking to snap a four-game road losing streak to the Longhorns with the last road win coming in 1938.
2. South Carolina
Aug. 31 vs. North Carolina (Charlotte); Sept. 7 Charleston Southern; Nov. 9 Appalachian State; Nov. 30 Clemson
Overview: This is the third time in the last six seasons in which South Carolina has opened up the season against rival North Carolina. The Gamecocks have won three straight in the series and six out of the last seven meetings. The out-of-conference schedule wraps up with a home contest against in-state rival Clemson with the Tigers winning five straight in the series.
Aug. 31 at Wyoming; Sept. 7 West Virginia; Sept. 14 Southeast Missouri; Oct. 5 Troy
Overview: Missouri is 1-4 against Power 5 opponents in the three seasons under coach Barry Odom with the lone win coming against Purdue last season. The Tigers will look to improve on that mark when they host West Virginia for the first time since the mid-1990s. About a month later, the team hosts a Troy team coming off a 10-win season in 2018.
Sept. 7 Murray State; Sept. 14 Arkansas State; Sept. 21 Notre Dame; Nov. 30 at Georgia Tech
Overview: Georgia has been outstanding against nonconference opponents in the three seasons under coach Kirby Smart with the Bulldogs putting together a 13-2 mark. The two losses were against Georgia Tech (2016) and Texas (2018). Notre Dame makes its first visit to Sanford Stadium looking to avenge a 20-19 home loss to Smart and the Bulldogs in 2017.
5. Texas A&M
Aug. 29 Texas State; Sept. 7 at Clemson; Sept. 14 Lamar; Nov. 2 UTSA
Overview: Clemson’s 28-26 win over Texas A&M was the closest the Tigers came to losing a game last season and the Aggies would like nothing better to shock the defending national champs early next season. The last time Jimbo Fisher beat a Dabo Swinney-led team in Memorial Stadium was back in 2014 when he was still at Florida State.
Aug. 31 Georgia State; Sept. 7 BYU; Sept. 14 Chattanooga; Nov. 2 UAB
Overview: Tennessee has been outstanding in its out-of-conference schedule over the past eight years, winning 31 out of the last 35 games including a 3-1 record in 2018. Year 2 under coach Jeremy Pruitt features a schedule that includes the first meeting with BYU in the second week and a showdown with a UAB program coming off a school-best 11-win season.
Sept. 7 at Purdue; Sept. 28 Northern Illinois; Oct. 12 UNLV; Nov. 23 ETSU
Overview: After losing five straight season-openers, Vanderbilt has won two straight games, both over Middle Tennessee. The Commodores, who were 1-4 on the road last season, open up next season away from Nashville at Purdue. Derek Mason’s team hosts Northern Illinois and UNLV hoping to extend a winning streak over Group of 5 teams to six games going back to 2015.
8. Mississippi State
Aug. 31 vs. Louisiana (New Orleans); Sept. 7 Southern Miss; Sept. 14 Kansas State; Nov. 23 Abilene Christian
Overview: Mississippi State hasn’t lost more than two nonconference games in a season since 2003 and the Bulldogs schedule in 2019 features just one Power 5 showdown against a Kansas State team coming off a disappointing 5-7 season and a coaching change. The last time the program lost a home game to an out-of-conference foe was 2016.
Aug. 31 vs. Oregon (Arlington); Sept. 7 Tulane; Sept. 14 Kent State; Nov. 23 Samford
Overview: This is the second straight year in which Auburn has opened up at a neutral site against a Pac-12 opponent. The Tigers knocked off No. 6 Washington in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta last season. This time around, Gus Malzahn’s team will face Oregon in a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
10. Ole Miss
Aug. 31 at Memphis; Sept. 14 Southeastern Louisiana; Sept. 21 California; Nov. 9 New Mexico State
Overview: The last time Ole Miss ventured north to Memphis, the Rebels left with a 37-24 loss to the Tigers in 2015. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak in the occasional series that dates back to 1921. Three weeks later, the team hosts a team from the Pac-12 for the first time in school history when Cal travels to Oxford.
Aug. 24 vs. Miami (Orlando); Sept. 7 UT Martin; Sept. 28 Towson; Nov. 30 Florida State
Overview: Florida opens up a season away from the Swamp for the second time in three seasons when the teams travels to Orlando for an in-state showdown with Miami at Camping World Stadium. The Gators have lost seven out of the last eight meetings with the Hurricanes. Dan Mullen’s team looks to make it two-in-a-row after snapping a five-game losing streak to rival FSU.
Aug. 31 vs. Duke (Atlanta); Sept. 7 New Mexico State; Sept. 21 Southern Miss; Nov. 23 Western Carolina
Overview: For the eighth straight year, Alabama kicks off a college football season at a neutral-site venue, this time in Atlanta against Duke. The Crimson Tide is 7-0 in those games, outscoring their opponents 271-91. This is the fifth time these programs have met with ‘Bama holding a 3-1 advantage. The Tide is 55-7 against nonconference opponents under Nick Saban with the last regular-season loss coming in 2007.
Aug. 31 Toledo; Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan; Nov. 23 UT Martin; Nov. 30 Louisville
Overview: Kentucky went undefeated in its nonconference schedule last season (5-0) for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats open things up with back-to-back matchups against Mid-American Conference opponents, looking to extend their 10-game winning streak against the league. Mark Stoops’ team wraps things up Thanksgiving weekend looking to make it two straight against Louisville.
Aug. 31 Portland State; Sept. 14 Colorado State; Sept. 21 San Jose State; Nov. 9 Western Kentucky
Overview: The Razorbacks are the only team in the SEC to face a nonconference slate that doesn’t feature a game against a Power 5 opponent. That’s good news for a program that is coming off a two-win season in 2018 with both of those wins coming out-of-conference.