The SEC is slacking! The supposed nation's best conference hasn't won a national title since the 2012 season and didn't even have a finalist last year. Here are the three easiest & hardest schedules by NCAA rankings for SEC teams in 2015.
It's almost easy to forget that the Tigers are two-time SEC East Division champions. They have the easiest schedule in the SEC but it's the "hardest" easiest of any Power-5 Conference, ranking No. 73 nationally. Missouri's opponents last season were a combined 78-73 (51.6 percent -- no FCS opponents are included when applicable on that category but would be on winning records). Eight of the Tigers' foes finished 2014 with a winning record, eight were bowl eligible and two were ranked (that's surprisingly low). Non-conference, the Tigers should open 3-0 as they are home to Southeast Missouri State, at Arkansas State and home to UConn. Their fourth non-conference game is late in the season, Nov. 14 against BYU in Kansas City. Mizzou catches a major break in that it doesn't play West Division powers Alabama, Auburn or LSU (or Ole Miss, which could be very good in 2015). Toughest SEC road games: at Georgia, at Arkansas.
5Dimes Win Total: 7, with 'over' a -180 favorite. This is about as nice of an SEC schedule you can ask for. Go 'over' with your college football picks,
The Gators had arguably the best coaching job opening in the nation this offseason and got a rather ho-hum response to hiring Colorado State's Jim McElwain. UF's schedule ranks No. 41 in the country with their opponents going 86-68 last season (55.8 percent), eight with winning records, eight bowl eligible and five ranked. McElwain's debut should be a romp at home against New Mexico State. Week 2 will be a bit tougher at home against East Carolina. The other two non-conference games are also at home: Nov. 21 against Florida Atlantic and the annual season-ender against Florida State. The Gators do avoid Alabama and Auburn from the West Division but face Ole Miss and LSU. Toughest SEC road games: Missouri, LSU, South Carolina.
5Dimes Win Total: 7, with 'under' a -150 favorite. Pretty good schedule all things considered, but that offense still looks so shaky. Go 'under.'
The Rebels might have more NFL first-round picks next season than any school in the country. But who is their quarterback? Ole Miss' schedule ranks No. 33 nationally as its opponents were 87-67 last season (56.5 percent) with eight finishing with winning records, nine bowl eligible and six ranked. It's a very weak non-conference schedule. Go ahead and mark down a 2-0 start as Mississippi opens at home vs. UT Martin and Fresno State. The other two come in the middle of the season: vs. New Mexico State and at Memphis. So that's four wins. Obviously the Rebels have to play every team in the murderous SEC West. They do avoid Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina from the East. Toughest SEC road games: Alabama, Florida, Auburn.
5Dimes Win Total: 8, with 'under' a -130 favorite. Go ' over.'
The Razorbacks, whom I believe would win the SEC East if they were in it, have the nation's second-toughest schedule as their opponents were 99-57 last season (63.4 percent), with 10 finishing with winning records, 10 bowl eligible and seven ranked. Yikes! Arkansas will run the table in its non-conference slate, home to UTEP, Toledo (in Little Rock), Texas Tech and UT Martin (later in season). The Hogs open SEC play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Texas A&M. They avoid Georgia, Florida and South Carolina from the East Division but that's about the only good news. Toughest SEC road games: Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU (so all of them).
5Dimes Win Total: 8, with 'under' a -190 favorite on the college football odds. I believe this pushes. But I'll go 'over.'
The Tide have the No. 4 schedule in the country, with their opponents at 96-58 last season (62.3 percent), with 10 concluding with winning records, 10 bowl eligible and seven ranked. Alabama opens the season as a 13-point favorite a`gainst what will be a ranked Wisconsin team at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The other three non-conference games are at home and a joke: Middle Tennessee, UL Monroe and Charleston Southern. Come on, Nick Saban! Alabama doesn't get to avoid SEC East favorite Georgia in the regular season or Tennessee. Does miss Florida and South Carolina. Toughest SEC road games: Georgia, Texas A&M, Auburn.
5Dimes Win Total: 9, with 'over' a -145 favorite. Probably 10-2 so 'over.'
The Wildcats have the No. 5 schedule in the nation with their opponents going 95-58 (62.1 percent) last season, 10 with winning records, 10 bowl eligible and five ranked. Coach Mark Stoops' club has three non-conference cupcakes at home in Louisiana-Lafayette (opener), Eastern Kentucky and Charlotte and closes the regular season at home against a good Louisville team from the ACC. Of course Kentucky plays all the SEC East teams. From the West, no Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss, which is nice, but Auburn is on there. Toughest SEC road games: South Carolina, Georgia.
5Dimes Win Total: 6, with 'under' a -135 favorite. I see 5-7 again so go 'under.'