The SEC released its 2020 football schedule on Monday night, which is good news in and of itself.
However, not all 14 of the SEC schedules are created equal. Some teams got a relatively easy road, while some frankly got jobbed.
As a refresher, here is the complete schedule in fancy helmet logo form (via SB Nation’s Nicholas Carr):
With the caveat that all SEC schedules are inherently tough, here are the 2020 versions, ranked from most- to least-difficult:
14. Arkansas: From the moment we found out the SEC was going to a 10-game, conference-only schedule, we had a feeling the Razorbacks might go 0-10. And then we saw the schedule. Arkansas opens with Georgia and closes with Alabama (albeit both at home). The Hogs also have Florida and LSU back-to-back in November. Worst of all, they don’t play Vandy.
13. Missouri: The Tigers have about as rough a first five weeks as you can imagine, though at least they get Vanderbilt in Week 4. Trouble is, that game is crammed in between road games with LSU and Florida. And Mizzou also opens with Alabama and then travels to Tennessee. At least Georgia and Kentucky visit Columbia, and the ending two-game stretch of Arkansas and Mississippi State is winnable.
12. South Carolina: The opener vs. Tennessee is as close to a toss-up as we’ll see in what is shaping up as a garbage Week 1, but if the Gamecocks lose that one, they’re almost certainly staring at 1-4. Week 3 vs. Vandy looks like a win, but you can’t say the same about road games at Florida (Week 2), Auburn (Week 4) and LSU (Week 5). Things lighten up a bit toward the end, but it might be too late by then.
11. Vanderbilt: As with Arkansas, we figured the Commodores would be hard-pressed to win a game even before we saw the complete schedule. Vandy opens at Texas A&M and then hosts LSU, which is a near-guaranteed 0-2. The next two games, however, are their best shots at victories, South Carolina in Nashville and at Missouri. The finishing stretch of Florida, Tennessee and at Georgia is capital BR-utal, however.
10. Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin’s Rebels play arguably three of the top five teams in the SEC in the season’s first five weeks, hosting Florida in Week 1 and Alabama in Week 3 and traveling to Auburn in Week 5. The season-ender at LSU will be no picnic either. At least the Egg Bowl is in Oxford.
9. Texas A&M: After easing into the schedule with Vanderbilt in Week 1, the Aggies turn around and travel to Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State the next three weeks. The middle of the schedule is relatively soft, but ending with LSU and Auburn won’t be easy. Will A&M fans be able to stomach a 6-4 or 7-3 mark this year?
8. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are trying to install a new offense without having had spring practice, which is difficult enough. They open with defending national champion LSU in Baton Rouge, following by two more road games at Arkansas and Kentucky. State also plays at Alabama and Georgia, as well as arch-rival Ole Miss.
7. Tennessee: The Volunteers have a very good shot at being 2-0 with South Carolina and Missouri out of the gate, but then things get difficult, with Georgia and Alabama in two of the three next weeks. In November, they play Texas A&M and Auburn from the West and end the season at home against Florida. At least they get Arkansas and Vanderbilt, too.
6. Kentucky: The Wildcats will be a significant underdog at Auburn in Week 1, but should be on pretty even footing with four of their next five opponents — Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Missouri (Kentucky hosts Georgia in between the latter two). Back-to-back at Alabama and Florida in November is rough, though.
5. LSU: The defending national champions have two of the toughest road trips in the SEC this year, playing at Florida and Auburn. Alabama is at home, however. And the Tigers open with three straight games (Mississippi State, at Vanderbilt, Missouri) in which they will be double-digit favorites, before the trip to Gainesville.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs get a veritable layup in Week 1 at Arkansas, but things get serious with Auburn coming to Athens in Week 2. Then come Tennessee and Alabama, so you certainly can’t say Georgia will have many emotional letdowns the rest of the way. Once they get past the neutral-site (but not really) game vs. Florida in Jacksonville on Nov. 7, the Bulldogs can coast the rest of the way with Missouri, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt to end the year. The Jacksonville game also means Georgia has only four true home games in 2020.
3. Auburn: The bad news is that Auburn is one of the few teams in the SEC that does not have back-to-back home games at any point. The good news is that the Tigers’ toughest games — at Georgia in Week 2, vs. LSU in Week 6 and at Alabama in Week 10 — are spaced out pretty well. The danger is Tennessee in Week 9 and/or Texas A&M in Week 11 end up as “trap” games.
2. Alabama: Get your conspiracy theories ready — the Crimson Tide is one of only two SEC teams that does not play back-to-back road games this season. Alabama also gets a bye week before LSU (as does LSU before Alabama). The toughest stretch is probably Georgia and Tennessee back-to-back in October. And it’s worth noting that Alabama’s schedule is by definition easier than some, simply because it doesn’t have “Alabama” on it.
1. Florida: The Gators have a Charmin-soft schedule, with five true home games plus a neutral (but not really neutral) site game with Georgia. Florida doesn’t play Alabama or Auburn, with its toughest road trip probably to Texas A&M. After the Georgia game, the Gators finish with Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee. The last two might be competitive, but the Gators either completely avoid the SEC West heavy hitters, or get them out of the way early.