It’s never too early to start looking way ahead, and the SEC provided the fodder Tuesday afternoon when it dropped its 2018 schedule on the college football world.
The schedule features a fun Week 1 with home and neutral site matchups that will define the early landscape of the season, a conference schedule that is loaded with monster matchups, and the traditional rivalry matchups to close the season in style.
Here’s how the 2018 schedule looks for all 14 SEC teams.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Takeaway: Can you imagine the hype if
decides to stay at Louisville? A full offseason for Nick Saban’s defense to prepare for the most electric player in college football would be extra-spicy.
Takeaway: Arkansas has to get through that Auburn-Texas A&M stretch with just one loss. Chalk up a home loss to Alabama to open October, but the rest of the month will be relatively easy and they don’t have to leave home.
Takeaway: A neutral-site opener just up I-85 against a team that has to cross the country, followed by four straight home games gives Auburn a chance to make a big statement early in the season.
Takeaway: Florida will be in business if it can get through those four games leading up to the bye week with three wins. One loss over that stretch — which includes three road games — should be tolerable.
Takeaway: There isn’t a gauntlet on this schedule. Sure, there are tough games and tricky spots in consecutive weeks. But nothing that jumps out and screams “there’s no way they can get through this.”
Takeaway: Florida, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Louisville all on the road. Good luck, Wildcats.
Takeaway: That Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State stretch leading into the bye week is going to be what makes or breaks the 2018 Tigers.
Ole Miss Rebels
Takeaway: So a team that could incur even more scholarship losses, could see players transfer and could have a new coach has to play high-scoring Texas Tech, Alabama and LSU in the first month of the season? Yikes.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Takeaway: Getting Auburn at home, a bye week before LSU and Louisiana Tech before the Alabama game makes this a manageable schedule for the Bulldogs.
Takeaway: Missouri would have been much better off if its bye week could have come the week after Alabama. Not many breaks after Sept. 29.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Takeaway: If South Carolina can get to that bye week in contention, it comes at a perfect time to gear up for a relatively brutal stretch run. That Georgia game in Week 2 is huge for this crew.
Takeaway: So Tennessee and Butch Jones (maybe) will play Florida, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama over a five-week span? That’s not going to work at all.
Texas A&M Aggies
Takeaway: Either the new head coach at Texas A&M is in for a rude awakening with Clemson and Alabama in September, or those two games bring a close to the Kevin Sumlin era. Either way, it’s bad.
Takeaway: This sets up for Vanderbilt to gain a ton of confidence in September, even if it includes a loss at Notre Dame in one of the more enjoyable road trips in recent Vandy history.