One of the biggest offseason topics in college football was how the Southeastern Conference would handle the maiden voyage for Oklahoma and Texas into America’s premier league. Wednesday night’s announcement that everyone in the SEC would play either the Sooners or Longhorns once, alongside the continuation of the Red River Rivalry, was as good as the conference could’ve drawn up. The long debate between an eight- or nine-game league schedule stalled, keeping the current octagon in place.
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The reshuffling of the SEC was long overdue, with countless projections being made since the addition of Texas and Oklahoma was first rumored in July 2021. Under the old format of eight league games, each team played the six schools in their division, alongside a yearly crossover opponent. The ocho were rounded out by a rotation of the remaining six teams from the opposite division, meaning there were nearly half of the league’s stadiums any given team would play in once every dozen years, like an Alabama road trip to play between the hedges of Georgia, or Tennessee going to the Bayou to play LSU. The lack of continuity made for incomplete togetherness, as this year’s model, and thank goodness it’s the finale, debuted after Texas A&M and Missouri’s addition to the conference in 2012. Now they’ll reunite with their former Big 12 colleagues as Texas travels to College Station and Oklahoma will play at Mizzou.
Releasing next season’s schedule usually doesn’t happen this early for the SEC, or any college football conference, but there’s something brewing for the SEC where there’s a public attempt to extend its lock atop college football. With the ACC and Big Ten representing the only other leagues that could hold a candle to the SEC, hyping up the additions of the Sooners and Longhorns can only be a positive. It’s laughable to make the case for the Big 12 or Pac-12, who haven’t had a team win a title in the last decade. How soon we forget this year’s national championship game between SEC and Big 12 competition that ended 58 points top the better of Georgia, not the Horned Frogs?
Some of the most interesting matchups include Alabama hosting Georgia and going on the road to face Oklahoma, Texas getting a home game against Florida in a battle of two programs who are shells of their former selves and the Sooners visiting LSU. Oddly enough Georgia doesn’t get a marquee home game as a two-time defending national champion, hosting Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee in Athens, while traveling to Jacksonville to play Florida. Without the SEC East and West in place in 2024, the two teams with the best conference records will play for the title, so Alabama and Georgia, congratulations.
As for 2025 and beyond, the switch to a nine-game conference schedule is inevitable. As the SEC wants to make more money, it’ll be what decides the switch. Let’s take Missouri’s 2024 schedule for example. The Tigers only play one other Power Five Conference school outside of SEC play, possibly in hopes to pad their record for bowl eligibility. There’s the annual FCS opponent, Boston College, and two other FBS teams that don’t move a needle in Buffalo and UMass. How on Earth is playing the Bulls or Minutemen better than another game against the likes of Ole Miss? It’s not. And proving yourself against conference competition would be best for all involved. But for now, the SEC nailed this eight-gamer.