These are the can't-miss games of what will be a different-yet-exciting season
The SEC released its revamped 2020 college football schedule on Monday night, setting the stage for a 10-game, conference-only slate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each team added two conference opponents from its original slate to get to 10 games, and there’s no shortage of interesting matchups. Week 1 (Sept. 26) begins with an intriguing crossover contest between Florida and Ole Miss, while showdowns between Georgia and Alabama and LSU and Florida are primed for mid-October. The final Saturday of action takes place on Dec. 5, with Florida at Tennessee and Texas A&M at Auburn headlining the last weekend of games before the conference title matchup.
Here are the best matchups each week of the 2020 SEC football season.
SEC Football: Best Game Every Week of the Proposed 2020 Schedule
Week 1 (for SEC) – Florida at Ole Miss
The SEC’s revamped schedule doesn’t feature a marquee matchup for “Week 1” of the 2020 season. However, Lane Kiffin’s home opener in Oxford against Florida – a team picked by some to win the SEC East – is intriguing. Can the Gators contain the one-two punch of quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and running back Jerrion Ealy? And how fast can Florida’s offense fire on all cylinders under quarterback Kyle Trask with the unusual offseason?
Next Up: Mississippi State at LSU; Kentucky at Auburn
Week 2 – Auburn at Georgia (Oct. 3)
For the first time since 1937, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry won’t play in the month of November. The matchup was slated to move out of its traditional spot prior to the revamped slate, but the updated schedule moved the Tigers-Bulldogs battle up a week to Oct. 3. Georgia has won six out of the last seven in this series, and the early October matchup is a good litmus test for coach Kirby Smart’s new quarterback – Jamie Newman or JT Daniels. Auburn needs a big year from quarterback Bo Nix, but the rebuilding effort on both lines of scrimmage is going to play a key role in determining the outcome of this game.
Next Up: Texas A&M at Alabama; Ole Miss at Kentucky
Week 3 – Florida at Texas A&M (Oct. 10)
This matchup is the best of the SEC’s new games on the 2020 schedule. The Gators were the first opponent for Texas A&M when it joined the SEC in 2012, and the stakes in ’20 will be high with both teams hoping to earn a trip to Atlanta in December. Much of the offseason focus surrounding the Aggies has been on the play of quarterback Kellen Mond. If the senior is ready to take a step forward in his development, this game would be a good opportunity to shine.
Next Up: Alabama at Ole Miss; Tennessee at Georgia
Week 4 – Georgia at Alabama (Oct. 17)
The stakes in Week 4 are massive around the SEC. Two huge crossover games – Georgia at Alabama and LSU at Florida – dot the schedule for Oct. 17. Either of these matchups could be a preview of the SEC title game in December. Both Georgia and Alabama enter the 2020 season with question marks but also have the pieces to win it all. How will the Bulldogs’ revamped offense look four weeks into the season? And by Week 4, will Mac Jones have a firm grip on the starting job over true freshman Bryce Young for the Crimson Tide? This matchup has the potential to be one of the best games of 2020.
Next Up: LSU at Florida; Texas A&M at Mississippi State; Kentucky at Tennessee
Week 5 – Alabama at Tennessee
It’s not quite the “Third Saturday in October,” but an Oct. 24 meeting between Alabama and Tennessee is close enough. This game marks the fourth consecutive week Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban will take on a team with a former assistant as its head coach. The Volunteers fought hard in Tuscaloosa against Alabama last fall and will be looking to earn their first win over Alabama since 2006.
Next Up: Auburn at Ole Miss; Georgia at Kentucky
Week 6 – LSU at Auburn (Oct. 31)
Each of the last four meetings in this series has been decided by five points or less. And with this contest taking place on Halloween, who knows what tricks Auburn coach Gus Malzahn has in store for LSU. For Ed Orgeron’s team to repeat as SEC champion, quarterback Myles Brennan has to deliver a big season in replacing Joe Burrow. With road tests at Auburn and Florida within the first six games, he will be battle-tested for the Nov. 14 matchup against Alabama.
Next Up: Mississippi State at Alabama
Week 7 – Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Fla. – Nov. 7)
Mark the calendars: Nov. 7 is when the SEC East will be won. There’s little separation between Florida and Georgia in most predictions for the East Division this fall, and with both teams facing tough crossovers, the annual showdown in Jacksonville will have massive implications. Florida has lost three in a row to Georgia, and coach Dan Mullen’s offenses have struggled against Kirby Smart’s defenses. The November date should allow plenty of time for Georgia to work out the wrinkles in its new offense, while its defense could be the best in college football for 2020.
Next Up: Texas A&M at South Carolina
Week 8 – Alabama at LSU (Nov. 14)
This game will likely decide which team comes out on top in the SEC West. LSU got the better of the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa last season, so revenge will be on the mind of Nick Saban’s team in Baton Rouge. Additionally, keeping this date late in the schedule (and following a bye week) provides plenty of time for both Alabama and LSU to settle any uncertainty at quarterback and plug in the gaps on defense. The Tigers' last victory over the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge took place in 2010.
Next Up: Auburn at Mississippi State; Texas A&M at Tennessee
Week 9 – Tennessee at Auburn (Nov. 21)
Tennessee didn’t catch a break when it added Texas A&M and Auburn to the revamped 2020 SEC slate. However, the Volunteers won the last matchup at Jordan-Hare Stadium and are catching the Tigers at a good time with the Iron Bowl the following Saturday. With the crowded race atop the SEC West, Auburn can’t afford a loss here and expect to challenge for the division title.
Next Up: Ole Miss at Texas A&M; Kentucky at Alabama
Week 10 – Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 28)
The Iron Bowl. Do we need to say more? Some of the biggest rivalries in the SEC take place in late November, as indicated by Auburn-Alabama and Mississippi State-Ole Miss matchups. The Iron Bowl is always long on intrigue, but there will be some extra motivation on Alabama’s side after how last year’s game transpired. Also, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this matchup played a huge role in determining how the top of the SEC West looks at the end of the year.
Next Up: Mississippi State at Ole Miss; LSU at Texas A&M; Kentucky at Florida
Week 11 – Florida at Tennessee (Dec. 5)
Take your pick here: Florida at Tennessee or Texas A&M at Auburn. Both games have intrigue and potential division title implications. But if Florida heads into the last week of the season atop the East, a road trip to Rocky Top to win the division isn’t going to be easy. A victory over Florida would be a good way for coach Jeremy Pruitt to end his third season in Knoxville.
Next Up: Ole Miss at LSU; Texas A&M at Auburn