By JOHN ZENOR
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —
The Southeastern Convention has lengthy touted itself because the nation’s hardest soccer league from prime to backside.
That begs the query: How onerous will or not it’s to win the SEC this season? The league introduced Thursday its 14 groups will every play a 10-game schedule towards fellow opponents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gone will not be just some marquee out-of-conference matchups but additionally the FCS and lower-level video games that fill the schedule with typically simple wins.
Specifics of the league-wide schedules nonetheless must be labored out and authorized by the SEC’s athletic administrators. However a 10-game schedule performed inside a league that has claimed 10 nationwide championships since 2006 may make it a brutal scramble for the SEC title recreation, now scheduled for Dec. 19 in Atlanta.
It is potential that one of many contenders may have a better path total, or that the shakeup may make it extra treacherous in a league the place groups are identified for beating up on one another. That is very true within the deep Western Division. Alabama missed the playoffs for the primary time final season after shedding by a mixed eight factors to eventual nationwide champion LSU and extra surprisingly in-state rival Auburn.
Common division customary bearers Alabama and Georgia, for example, already had been set to fulfill in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 19 for the primary time since 2007. The Crimson Tide’s unique opener towards USC was already canceled and so are presumed mismatches with Georgia State, Kent State and Tennessee-Martin.
Two of these video games will probably be crammed in with SEC groups. The highest crew Alabama wasn’t scheduled to play was Florida.
“The protection of our crew will probably be our highest precedence all through the season, however we’re additionally excited that our gamers could have the chance to compete and play this season,” Tide coach Nick Saban stated.
Georgia, the defending SEC East champion, will not play in-state rival Georgia Tech — a straightforward win the previous three seasons — but additionally loses video games with Virginia, East Tennessee State and Louisiana-Monroe.
The Bulldogs weren’t scheduled to face both Texas A&M or LSU from the West — or a much less extremely regarded Arkansas.
“The one factor for sure is we’ll play our Jap opponents, and we have now Auburn and Alabama from the West,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity stated. “Then we’ll have two extra.
“However we’ve not even began that dialogue but. It was not our intent to go there first. Which may have swayed a number of the decision-making when you knew who you had been going to play. So, we’ll begin that dialogue very quickly with the commissioner.”
Issues may get harder for different potential SEC contenders, like Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn.
LSU dropped a recreation towards conventional energy Texas, together with Texas-San Antonio, Rice and Nicholls. Potential SEC provides embody Georgia and Tennessee.
Worn out for Florida had been the standard regular-season finale towards Florida State but additionally a lot much less interesting matchups with Jap Washington, South Alabama and New Mexico State.
Florida’s schedule will virtually actually get more durable because the Gators weren’t scheduled to play both Alabama, Texas A&M or Auburn from the West.
The Tigers had already misplaced their opening recreation towards Alcorn State because the Southwestern Athletic Convention is about to play a shortened season within the spring.
Additionally gone are North Carolina, Southern Miss and Massachusetts.
Texas A&M presumably had a better highway after going through each Clemson and Georgia on the highway final season. Gone now are Abilene Christian, North Texas, Colorado and Fresno State.
The Bulldogs, Gators and Tennessee are doubtlessly harder replacements.
If the SEC is certainly the hardest soccer convention, which means the groups have the toughest highway to a title. The highest precedence now’s simply making an attempt to play the season amid a pandemic.
“A conference-only schedule provides us the most effective alternative to have an entire season due to the flexibleness it gives with management over convention video games and the power to make changes, when there’s a chance of disruption,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner stated.
___ AP Sports activities Writers Paul Newberry and Pete Iacobelli contributed to this report.
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