Huge Slate Of Games On Tap
Among the many things, COVID-19 took from us in 2020 was the SEC’s annual slate of non-conference games. When the league decided on a ten-game all-conference schedule it also took away the ACC-SEC rivalry games. However, in a made for tv event on Wednesday, the SEC announced its 2021 schedules. As another step towards normalcy in this country, the schools are back to their regular eight conference games plus four out of the league. Starting in week one there are some great match-ups. Let’s go through them with the SEC’s top non-conference games of 2021.
A Loaded Week One
The league wastes no time with four huge games on Labor Day weekend. Heading the list is the game that will get the most hype all summer. Georgia and Clemson kick off the season in a game played in Charlotte. The Tigers will of course be without Trevor Lawrence, who’s most likely off to Jacksonville. However, they’re still the odds on favorite in the ACC. On the other side of the ball, Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs look to bounce back in the SEC East.
Alabama and Miami meet in the first of two Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Games in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide are in a familiar place, not only reloading but coming off yet another national championship. Coming off an 8-3 season in 2020 Manny Diaz’s Hurricanes are the likely second pick behind Clemson in the ACC. It’s the first meeting between these two schools since the 1993 Sugar Bowl.
Two days later Louisville and Ole Miss also meet in Atlanta. The Rebels finished last season strong and Lane Kiffin’s Rebels are an SEC West dark horse. Things haven’t gone as Cardinal fans thought they would so far under Scott Satterfield. As a result, they need a big win to jump-start not only the season but revive the fan base.
Finally, the fourth big game of opening weekend features LSU traveling to UCLA. The Tigers definitely had that “championship hangover” for much of 2020 but finished strong. Had most of the Pac-12 bowl games not been canceled, Chip Kelly had the Bruins in line for the postseason.
Up next in our look at the SEC’s top non-conference games of 2021 is some interesting week two matchups featuring old foes.
Big 12 Reunion
The marquee matchups in week two feature battles of former Big 12 teams. In the first Texas A&M and Colorado meet in Denver. The last time these two squads met was in 2009 when the Aggies were still in the league. Overall the Buffaloes lead the all-time series 6-3.
A game we kept trying to set up in the Texas Bowl all last year highlights the second game. When Texas comes to Fayetteville for a battle against Arkansas it will be the first meeting between these two schools since 2014. The Longhorns hold a 56-22 advantage all-time in the series.
Two more interesting games in week two feature North Carolina State visiting Mississippi State and Pittsburgh traveling to Tennessee.
Week three features something usually not seen with the SEC, two true road games. Auburn and new coach Bryan Harsin head to Happy Valley for a battle against Penn State. The Nittany Lions won their last four a season ago after starting 0-5. The other features Mississippi State making the short trip to Memphis to face the Tigers. These two schools last played in 2011 and the Bulldogs are on a 12 game winning streak against Memphis.
Two other non-conference matchups in week three feature Vanderbilt hosting Stanford in the first of a four-game series between the two schools. In addition another sneaky good week three contest features Ole Miss hosting Tulane.
Very Interesting Homecoming
Other than Missouri traveling to Boston College on September 25th things are pretty status quo with mostly all-league games. That changes on November 6th with Mississippi hosts Liberty. Hugh Freeze returns to the school that fired him back in 2017. You may remember school officials discovered phone calls to a number associated with a female escort service. However, Freeze rebounded and is 18-6 in two years since becoming the Flames’ head coach.
Rivalry Games Return
As mentioned earlier the ACC-SEC rivalry games return during the final week of the year. That means we get Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, and Clemson-South Carolina. In addition, the “Battle For The Governor’s Cup” is back as Kentucky travels to Louisville. The Cats have won three of the last four after the Cards won the previous five. Furthermore, UK’s won the last two by a combined 101-23 margin.
Thanks for checking out our look at the SEC’s top non-conference games of 2021 here at Last Word On College Football. Which games are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment in the section below. As a reminder, National Signing Day is coming up on Wednesday and Last Word has all your favorite teams covered.