I don’t know about you, but on days like this it feels like the season is never going to get here. I mean, we’ve been talking and speculating about this stuff non-stop since SEC Media Days in early July.
So let’s take a break from the grind of training camp and answer today’s question: If you could travel every week of the 2017 season and money was no object, where would you choose to go in the SEC? Here is my list. Just so you know, as an old reporter I’m looking for great story lines and not necessarily the best games:
Sept. 2–Alabama vs. Florida State (Atlanta): Based on the preseason rankings, the game will match No. 1 vs. No. 2 or No. 1 vs. No. 3, which be the biggest opening game in the modern era of college football. It will be the first college football game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The winner will be ranked No. 1 and the loser can still make the playoffs. That’s a pretty strong way to get things started.
Sept. 9—Georgia at Notre Dame: They’ve only played once, with Herschel Walker and the Bulldogs beating the Irish (17-10) in the Sugar Bowl to win the 1980 national championship. The Bulldog Nation, many of them without tickets, will invade South Bend in full force.
Sept. 16—Tennessee at Florida: Tennessee broke an 11-game losing streak to the Gators last season but couldn’t close the deal in the SEC East. If Tennessee has previously beaten Georgia Tech on Sept. 4 then Butch Jones can absorb a loss here. If the Vols are 1-2 after this game then things are going to be a little tense on Rocky Top.
Sept. 23—Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, Arlington, Tex: The 2014 and 2015 games went into overtime but last season the Aggies spanked the Hogs 45-24 at Jerry World. Texas A&M has won five straight in the series. Bret Bielema could really use this game.
Sept. 30—Georgia at Tennessee: After the back-to-back Hail Marys that ended last year’s game in Athens, this has a chance to be very interesting.
Oct. 7—LSU at Florida: After last year’s weather postponement and the ultimate Gator victory at Baton Rouge (with a goal line stand on the one-yard line), these two schools officially don’t like each other. And did I mention that it will be Homecoming in Gainesville?
Oct. 14—South Carolina at Tennessee: Last year Tennessee received a crushing loss in Columbia in the first SEC start for Gamecock QB Jake Bentley. Focus could be an issue for Tennessee because coming up the following week is:
Oct. 21—Alabama at Tennessee: The Crimson Tide has won 10 straight in the series. Still there is something special about “The Third Saturday in October.”
Oct. 28—Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville): Will the SEC East come down to 60 minutes of football by the St. John’s River? The Gators have won three straight in the “Cocktail Party” and none of those games were close.
Nov. 4—LSU at Alabama: This game always delivers and there are usually more pros on the field for this one than in any other SEC matchup you can name. Alabama has won six straight against the Tigers.
Nov. 11—Georgia at Auburn: The Deep South’s longest continuous rivalry has decided a bunch of SEC championships. In fact, Auburn has never won an SEC championship without first beating Georgia.
Nov. 18—LSU at Tennessee: LSU has a brutal five SEC road games this season. This trip to Knoxville will be the last of those. They don’t play much but it is usually entertaining. LSU has won four straight in the series.
Nov. 25—Alabama at Auburn: There ain’t nothing like the Iron Bowl when the SEC West, a possible SEC championship, and a possible national championship are hanging in the balance. It happened in 2013. Can it happen again in 2017?
Dec. 2—SEC Championship game: This will be SEC Championship Game No. 26 and the first in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There hasn’t been a competitive SEC championship game since Alabama-Georgia in 2012. In fact, the SEC East hasn’t won this game since 2008 (Florida 31-20).
That’s my list. What’s yours?