The Southeastern Conference isn't scheduled to kick off its 10-game football season until Sept. 26, but Friday evening certainly provided some winners and losers.
Needing the addition of two extra cross-divisional games for each program to complete the league schedules that have been altered by the coronavirus-related cancellations of nonconference games, the league revealed those selections Friday night on the SEC Network.
"We made every effort to create a schedule that is as competitive as possible and builds on the existing eight conference games that had already been scheduled for 2020," league commissioner Greg Sankey said in a release. "This schedule is a one-year anomaly that we have developed under unique circumstances presented by the impact of COVID-19."
Missouri's schedule went from competitive to incredibly competitive, as the league added a home game against Alabama, No. 3 in the Amway coaches preseason poll, and a trip to No. 5 LSU for Eli Drinkwitz's Tigers. Since joining the SEC in 2012, Mizzou is 0-4 against Alabama and LSU by the combined score of 165-40.
Tennessee had a pair of preseason top-15 teams added to its schedule, with the Volunteers getting a home date with No. 13 Texas A&M and a journey to No. 11 Auburn. The Vols and Aggies have met three times but never inside Neyland Stadium, but Tennessee has a lot of tradition with Auburn, an annual rival from 1956 to 1991.
Auburn had won six straight series meetings against the Vols until Tennessee pulled a 30-24 upset at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2018.
"Let's gooooo!!!" Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt posted on Twitter after learning of the additions.
Alabama and Georgia, which is No. 4 in the preseason poll, received much more favorable draws from the league office. Nick Saban's Crimson Tide landed a home game against Kentucky in addition to the trip to Missouri, while Kirby Smart's Bulldogs added a home game against Mississippi State and a trek to Arkansas, which has lost 19 consecutive conference games.
The additions of Georgia and Florida to the Arkansas slate resulted in Razorbacks athletic director Hunter Yurachek claiming, "We now have the most challenging schedule in the history of college football."
The SEC plans to announce the dates for all contests within the next two weeks.
Earlier Friday, the SEC revealed its initial guidelines to manage COVID-19 for its 10-game season.
EAST VS. WEST
The cross-divisional pairings for each SEC member for the upcoming 10-game season:
Previously scheduled: vs. Georgia, at Tennessee
Added opponents: vs. Kentucky, at Missouri
Previously scheduled: vs. Tennessee, at Missouri
Added opponents: vs. Georgia, at Florida
Previously scheduled: vs. Kentucky, at Georgia
Added opponents: vs. Tennessee, at South Carolina
Previously scheduled: vs. LSU, at Ole Miss
Added opponents: vs. Arkansas, at Texas A&M
Previously scheduled: vs. Auburn, at Alabama
Added opponents: vs. Mississippi State, at Arkansas
Previously scheduled: vs. Mississippi State, at Auburn
Added opponents: vs. Ole Miss, at Alabama
Previously scheduled: vs. South Carolina, at Florida
Added opponents: vs. Missouri, at Vanderbilt
Previously scheduled: vs. Missouri, at Kentucky
Added opponents: vs. Vanderbilt, at Georgia
Previously scheduled: vs. Arkansas, at Mississippi State
Added opponents: vs. Alabama, at LSU
Previously scheduled: vs. Florida, at Vanderbilt
Added opponents: vs. South Carolina, at Kentucky
Previously scheduled: vs. Texas A&M, at LSU
Added opponents: vs. Auburn, at Ole Miss
Previously scheduled: vs. Alabama, at Arkansas
Added opponents: vs. Texas A&M, at Auburn
Previously scheduled: vs. Vanderbilt, at South Carolina
Added opponents: vs. Florida, at Tennessee
Previously scheduled: vs. Ole Miss, at Texas A&M
Added opponents: vs. LSU, at Mississippi State
Saban, Smart, Pruitt and other SEC football coaches required to wear masks on sideline as part of initial coronavirus guidelines