published Friday, October 19th, 2012

SEC has another 'bridge' schedule in 2013

SEC 
Southeastern Conference
SEC Southeastern Conference

DISSECTING THE 2013 SEC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

See you later: Alabama will host Arkansas next season on Oct. 19, making it the first October matchup between the Crimson Tide and Razorbacks since the Hogs joined the SEC in 1992.

Breaking them up: Georgia has played Tennessee and Vanderbilt consecutively every year since 1996, but the Bulldogs will host Missouri next season between trips to Knoxville and Nashville.

Not you again: Tennessee's first five league opponents this season — Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina -- are ranked. It should be more of the name in 2013, when the Vols open at Florida, host Georgia and South Carolina and visit Alabama.

The best start: Rapidly rising Florida has the most accommodating SEC introduction next season, hosting Tennessee, traveling to Kentucky and hosting Arkansas.

The toughest stretch: Mississippi State has a three-week stretch next November in which the Bulldogs will visit South Carolina and Texas A&M before hosting Alabama.

The Southeastern Conference is operating under a stand-alone football schedule this season and released another stand-alone schedule Thursday for 2013.

There will be seven different divisional crossover matchups next season, including Auburn at Tennessee, LSU at Georgia and Alabama at Kentucky. SEC athletic directors will map out scheduling formats for the 2014 season and beyond during the league's spring meetings next May.

"As we began working on the 2013 football schedule, it became apparent that the conference would need another year of the 'bridge' schedule to make everything work," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "I appreciate the SEC transition team and our athletics directors, who came together to put this schedule in place. We look forward to starting with our new scheduling rotation in 2014."

This year's schedule, which was revealed last December after the announcements that Texas A&M and Missouri would be joining the league, contains several oddities.

Alabama is playing four of its six West Division counterparts at home and only two on the road, but the Crimson Tide are having to play their two East foes — Missouri and Tennessee — on the road. Texas A&M gets to play just two West teams at home this year but is hosting Florida and Missouri from the East.

In order to maintain balance for the '14 schedule and beyond, three league games this season — Ole Miss at Alabama, Texas A&M at Ole Miss and Georgia at Auburn — will take place in the same locations next season. Auburn and Georgia have met 115 times in the Deep South's oldest rivalry, and the Tigers and Bulldogs have been alternating between Athens and Auburn every year since 1959, when the game moved from the neutral site of Columbus.

"There were so many variables in dealing with conference games," Slive said, "and the three repeat venue games, while not desired, provided the only solution to the complex scheduling issues."

Next year's schedule will include an SEC matchup every weekend, beginning with Ole Miss at Vanderbilt on Aug. 31. Every league school will play 12 games total and have two open dates.

Auburn and Tennessee were annual rivals from 1956 to '91, and the Tigers have won all six matchups this century. The Vols are hosting Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama out of conference next season and will visit Oregon and Florida on consecutive weekends next September.

Georgia's two West opponents this season — Ole Miss and Auburn — are bringing up the rear in their division, but hosting LSU next Sept. 28 will add to a challenging start for the Bulldogs. They open next season at Clemson and host South Carolina the next week.

The Bulldogs had started SEC play with the Gamecocks for 20 consecutive seasons until this year's schedule, when Georgia opened at Missouri.

"Every institution is going to have some quirks, just like this year, but at the end of the day, the ADs are moving forward and understand all the dynamics involved," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. "The ADs had no say on who they preferred to play. That was strictly up to the conference scheduling procedure."

Alabama and Kentucky are at the opposite ends of this year's league spectrum, and the Wildcats have defeated the Crimson Tide once in 26 tries since the formation of the SEC in 1933. The Tide will open next season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta, and they are scheduled to host Georgia State, UT-Chattanooga and an opponent yet to be announced.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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