By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
With Texas and Oklahoma entering the SEC in 2024 the conference will move to a 9-game SEC football slate.
Most are speculating that the SEC could adopt a 3+6 scheduling model. Under that model you would have three permanent opponents that you would play annually and six other conference opponents.
Also, under that model every team in the SEC would play each other every two years and play home and home with every non-permanent opponent every four years.
The current SEC scheduling format has some flaws. Example Georgia has only played Texas A&M once since they joined the conference in 2012. The Dawgs have yet to make a trip to College Station to play the Aggies. A 3+6 model will eliminate that.
There are rivalry games in the SEC that need to be protected at all costs under any new scheduling format. Here are my top six annual rivalry games that need to be protected by the expanding SEC.
Alabama vs Auburn: The Iron Bowl is the most iconic rivalry game in all of college football. To tinker with this one is a sign of the pending Rapture.
The Iron Bowl has given us some of the greatest moments in college football history.
Georgia vs Florida: The best border war in all of college football. The “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” currently resides in Jacksonville.
I would like to see it stay there forever. It could end up going to a home and home series, but frankly I would hate it. The game is not going anywhere however and is an SEC staple.
Auburn vs Georgia: The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has lost some of its luster lately with UGA winning fifteen of the last eighteen games, but there is too much history in place to discontinue playing this contest on an annual basis.
Alabama vs Tennessee: The Third Saturday in October is a classic SEC Rivalry game that needs to stay in place.
The 2022 game in Knoxville was a classic with Tennessee breaking a 15-year losing streak to Alabama. You saw the passion for the contest in the Tennessee postgame celebration.
Oklahoma vs Texas: There is no conceivable way the SEC does not keep The Red River Shootout in place once these two teams join next year.
A huge game played in Dallas every year during the Texas State Fair in the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Mississippi State vs Ole Miss: The Egg Bowl is very intense and usually played on Thanksgiving Night.
The intensity and passion this game displays must not be touched.
These six games mentioned above are the fabric of the historic SEC and the newly expanded SEC.
The SEC must decide everyone’s three permanent opponents. Other big games that we could see annually depending in the SEC:
Florida vs Tennessee: This was the SEC in the 1990’s. It has lost some luster lately but is still a huge game.
Alabama vs LSU: This has become the matchup that determines the SEC West Champion often.
Texas vs Texas A&M: What a shame this game ended when A&M joined the SEC. I suspect it will get back on track.
Georgia vs South Carolina: Georgia is South Carolina’s biggest SEC rival.
Kentucky vs Tennessee: Kentucky will want Tennessee as one of its permanent opponents and Tennessee will jump for joy.
Tennessee vs Vanderbilt: See Kentucky vs Tennessee above.
Florida vs LSU: This is an underrated rivalry game.
Auburn vs Florida: This was a classic rivalry game that got lost in the shuffle when the SEC reshuffled permanent opponents after the 2002 season. These teams have played 84 times, but only 4 times since 2002.
Arkansas vs Texas: Old Southwest Conference rivals could reunite annually.
You never know how it will all shake out. Some folks will be happy, and some will not. We shall see.