SEC football will have a new look in 2012 but that won’t change the fact that it’s still America’s premier college football conference. With the last six National Champions coming from the SEC fold, it is obviously the conference to watch in 2012. Not only to see which team emerges as the BCS favorite, but also to see how former Big XII teams, Texas A&M and Missouri, fare in their first year. Here is a list of the conference matchups that you just can’t afford to miss in 2012.
Florida Gators at Texas A&M Aggies – September 8th
The Aggies welcome the Florida Gators to Kyle Field in their very first conference game as a member of the SEC. The Aggies enter the SEC after a very disappointing season that ended with the firing of head coach Mike Sherman and “dismissal” of athletic director Bill Byrne. The Gators have seen similar disappointment since the departure of Tim Tebow. The September 8th matchup will pit two teams with plenty of potential and two teams that are desperately in need of a win to open their conference schedule.
Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks – September 15th
The 2012 BCS National Champions get a stiff test in their conference opener on the road in Fayetteville against what could be one of the surprise teams in the SEC, even without offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino. The Crimson Tide only return 13 total starters from their National Championship squad, tying them for dead last in the SEC along with Kentucky, Mississippi State, and Missouri. Meanwhile, Arkansas returns 15 total starters including senior quarterback Tyler Wilson and senior running back Dennis Johnson. An inside track to claiming the difficult SEC West title is on the line.
Tennessee Volunteers at Georgia Bulldogs – September 29th
This could very well be a matchup of the SEC’s two best quarterbacks. Last season, Tyler Bray showed he could be the efficient quarterback the Volunteers have needed, breaking multiple records set by former Tennessee quarterback, Peyton Manning. However, injuries to the wide receiver corp and several close losses landed the Volunteers at 5-7 for the year. Meanwhile, Aaron Murray led the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship game, beating rivals Florida and Tennessee along the way. Once again, Georgia misses the three toughest teams out of the West in Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama. If Tennessee wants to make the push to return to the SEC Championship game for the first time since 2007, beating the Bulldogs is a must.
Florida Gators vs Georgia Bulldogs (Jacksonville, FL) – October 27th
One of the best rivalries in the SEC will once again likely have heavy SEC East implications when the two meet in late October. Florida’s defense was good last year, but failed to create enough turnovers to overcome the underachieving offense. The offense should be better in Will Muschamp’s second season as head coach and the defense has the potential to be one of the top ten units in the country with 10 defensive starters returning. The Bulldogs beat the Gators last year, going onto claim the SEC East title. The last two matchups have been nail-biters, and 2012 looks to continue the trend.
Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers – November 3rd
Both teams have some retooling to do, but this could once again be the game that determines the favorite to win the entire conference. The Tigers got the better of the Tide in Tuscaloosa last year, only to experience the Alabama’s revenge in the National Championship. Tiger Stadium is one of the rowdiest and most unfriendly stadiums I have been to. Pure insanity will likely be an understatement when Nick Saban visits his former team on the first Saturday in November.