Photo credit ABCNews4.com
by Lisa Horne
In the fourth part of our series on non-conference schedule power rankings, we evaluate the Southeastern Conference. In the past, the SEC has used its conference strength as an excuse to schedule cupcakes (with extra sprinkles) for its non-conference slate.
Last year the SEC was exposed. It was not the SEC's fault-- blame the hypnotized media for not paying very good attention to other Power 5 teams. Still, SEC fans have been critical of the Big Ten, particularly regarding its non-conference schedules and alleged soft conference play. Will the tables turn this year?
You be the judge.
Wisconsin (at Arlington), Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern
Three gimmees and a Big Ten team at a neutral venue? Nope, we're not buying this. Playing an FCS team in late November (when most teams are banged up and playing rivalry games) is also weak.
UTEP, Toledo (at Little Rock), Texas Tech, UT Martin
The Razorbacks are sending a strong message: We only have to win two conference games to go bowling with this non-conference schedule.
Louisville, Jacksonville State, San Jose State, Idaho
Louisville saves this schedule from getting an F.
New Mexico State, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida State
No FCS teams, a Power 5 team and an excellent Group of 5 team make this one of the best SEC schedules. Major kudos to the Gators for stepping up to the plate.
Louisiana Monroe, Southern, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech
How will the CFP committee view a team that leaves the state of Georgia only four times in the regular season?
Louisiana Lafayette, Eastern Kentucky, Charlotte, Louisville
Charlotte is a new member of C-USA so the intent of this schedule is clear: to play the lowest-tiered teams possible without having two FCS teams on the schedule. Shameful, Kentucky.
McNeese State, at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Western Kentucky
This is a very disappointing schedule from LSU. Go ahead, Tiger fans, tell us which one of these games you're even slightly excited about.
UT Martin, Fresno State, New Mexico State, at Memphis
So Memphis is the big hitter here?
At Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, Louisiana Tech
Did the Bulldogs schedule FCS team Northwestern State to lighten the load? Seriously?
Southeast Missouri State, at Arkansas State, UConn, BYU
How bad is the SEC's non-conference slate? UConn actually bumps up Mizzou's power ranking.
North Carolina (at Charlotte), Central Florida, The Citadel, Clemson
If not for The Citadel, this would have been an A+ schedule. Still, major props. The fans get some great games to watch at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Bowling Green State, Oklahoma, Western Carolina, North Texas
Scheduling three cupcakes around a powerhouse really diminishes this schedule, which is a shame. There was some potential.
Arizona State (at Houston), Ball State, Nevada, Western Carolina
This isn't too bad of a schedule but the Aggies were supposed to play USC this year. They *cough* canceled when they joined the SEC.
Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, at Middle Tennessee State, at Houston
When Stanford--a school with high academic standards--was losing almost every game it played from 2002 to 2007, it still scheduled decent teams. It had pride. What is Vanderbilt's excuse?
2015 Non-conference Power Rankings
1- South Carolina
4- Texas A&M
14- Mississippi State