Alabama Football: On schedules and easy paths for LSU and Georgia

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Alabama Football: Crimson Tide should have the best team but LSU and Georgia have easier paths to SEC Championship.

Along with Alabama football, 75 other college football teams have new ‘strength of schedule’ projections. The latest projections come by way of college football expert, Phil Steele.

Most interesting from the updated Phil Steele rankings are the rankings of SEC schools. Every SEC school is in Steele’s 25 toughest schedules. More noteworthy is the first 11 on Steele’s list are SEC teams.

Alabama football and other top programs always benefit in schedule strength rankings from not having to play themselves. Clemson, for example, is way down Steele’s list, with a typical run against mostly, ACC creampuffs, plus a somewhat more credible, Notre Dame.

Phil Steele has Dabo’s Tigers with No. 42 toughest among the 76 teams. Just behind Clemson, At No. 43 are the Oklahoma Sooners. If Steele’s projections are accurate, no teams have easier paths to a CFB Playoff berth than Clemson and Oklahoma. Such is the advantage of being the ‘Big Dog’ in an easier conference. A few college football pundits think The Fighting Irish might be the ACC’s toughest out in the 2020 season.

Who does Steele project as having the toughest schedules? At the top of his list are the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Vanderbilt Commodores. Life in the SEC will be brutal for the Hogs and the Dores. The eleven SEC schools at the top of Steele’s list are:

  1. Arkansas Razorbacks
  2. Vanderbilt Commodores
  3. Auburn Tigers
  4. South Carolina Gamecocks
  5. Missouri Tigers
  6. Mississippi State Bulldogs
  7. Ole Miss Rebels
  8. Tennessee Volunteers
  9. Alabama Crimson Tide
  10. Kentucky Wildcats
  11. Texas A&M Aggies

The Florida Gators are the next SEC team in Steele’s ranking, at No. 17. The SEC’s easiest schedules go to the Georgia Bulldogs at No. 23 and the LSU Tigers at No. 25. Kirby may need all the schedule help afforded his team, after losing his ‘Heisman Shoo-in’ quarterback, Jamie Newman (cough-cough). At LSU, Coach O is also facing some serious attrition, losing two top players (and others) to opt-out.

Based on Steele’s projection, LSU should have the inside track to win the SEC West. Georgia has a somewhat more demanding challenge but with an inside track to win the SEC East. Even with an easier path, oddsmakers project the LSU wins, over/under at 6.5 wins. Georgia is at 7.5 wins and the Alabama Crimson Tide at 8 wins in the over/under.

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LSU and Georgia in Atlanta? Not likely, though Georgia could lose to the Crimson Tide and still get to the SEC Championship game.