A couple of SEC football teams have the easiest paths to Atlanta

The 2024 goals for top SEC football teams are winning 10 games and getting to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

In the new world of SEC Football, getting to 10 wins in the regular season is almost as important as playing in the SEC Championship Game. Winning SEC Championships will continue to matter (and hopefully always will) but in reality, making the 12-team CFB Playoff will define success or failure going forward.

The SEC's eight-game conference schedule is not balanced in terms of strength of opponents. It would not be at nine games either. Some teams will have an easier path to Atlanta than others.

For most SEC teams, excluding Vanderbilt, out-of-conference schedules (OOC) are filled with easy or guaranteed win games. From that perspective, getting to 10 wins for the CFB Playoff is best served by four OOC wins plus going 6-2 in SEC play. But not every SEC title contender has four, OOC locked wins.

The Alabama Crimson Tide must travel to Madison, WI in week three. Georgia opens with Clemson and LSU opens with USC. Both games are at neutral sites. In week two The Texas Longhorns travel to Ann Arbor and the Tennessee Vols play North Carolina State at a neutral site. The SEC may well go 5-0 in those games but in particular, a USC win or NCSU win would not be a shock.

For this post measuring which SEC teams have the easiest paths to Atlanta, only considers eight teams as SEC Championship contenders. They are Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Ole Miss, LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Subjectively assessed, Texas and Missouri have the easiest paths. The third easiest is Ole Miss. The hardest path group, (not ranked by degree of difficulty) are Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU, and Tennessee.

SEC Football Paths to Atlanta

  • Texas Longhorns - The Longhorns have what should be six wins in Mississippi State, at Vanderbilt, Florida, at Arkansas, Kentucky, and at Texas A&M. Oklahoma in Dallas and Georgia in Austin should be the toughest challenges for Texas.
  • Missouri Tigers - Missouri should be 3-0 to start with Vandy, at Texas A&M and Auburn. After taking on Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the Tigers have Oklahoma at home, and what should be three wins, at South Carolina, at Mississippi State, and Arkansas.
  • Ole Miss Rebels - Ole Miss should be 6-0 when it travels to LSU in October, including SEC wins over Kentucky and South Carolina. Sandwiched around what should be a home win over Arkansas, the Rebels will host Oklahoma and Georgia. Two wins should complete the Ole Miss regular season, at Florida and Mississippi State.

The next five teams are listed alphabetically.

  • Alabama Crimson Tide - Making this simple I can agree with many Bama fans who claim the Tide can go 8-0 in SEC play. Balanced against that optimism are challenges not to be ignored: Georgia in Tuscaloosa, Tennessee, LSU, and Oklahoma on the road, even the home game against Missouri.
  • Georgia Bulldogs - Before coming to Tuscaloosa in September, The Dawgs should open with a road win at Kentucky. After the war in Bryant-Denny, Georgia has two easy home wins against Auburn and Mississippi State, followed by a tough trip to Austin to take on Texas. A win over Florida in Jacksonville follows, then a trip to Oxford to battle Lane Kiffin, followed by what should be a home win against Tennessee.
  • LSU Bengal Tigers - LSU has only one SEC game until Oct. 12 when they host Ole Miss. The September SEC opener will be a win at South Carolina, or Brian Kelly will be in big trouble. After Ole Miss, LSU should get two road wins over Arkansas and Texas A&M, followed by a bye and Bama in Baton Rouge. The next two, at Florida and Vanderbilt should be wins, before closing with Oklahoma in Baton Rouge.
  • Oklahoma Sooners - The Sooner can make a credible claim of the toughest schedule among the eight contenders. They have Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama in Norman; Texas in Dallas, along with road games against Auburn, Ole Miss, Missouri, and LSU.
  • Tennessee Vols - Tennessee opens the SEC against Oklahoma in Norman. Other tough challenges are Alabama in Knoxville and Georgia in Athens. Wins should come away to Arkansas, home for Florida, Kentucky, and Mississippi State, and in Nashville against Vandy.

There will be surprises and even major upsets. Florida and Oklahoma are particularly difficult to predict. One thing is certain. 2024 is going to be an exciting season for SEC Football.

The complete 2024 SEC Football schedule is available here.