The ultimate SEC road trip is back. The best games. The best venues. The best atmospheres. If you could pick your destination every Saturday, where would you go?
This year, we're taking two road trips, both hypothetical of course. Our writers might end up at the same game some weeks, but this should allow us to see more teams and more campuses across the SEC.
Let's check in on what's in store for Week 8.
Road trip 1: Auburn at Arkansas
Oh, this game takes the cake in Week 8. Outside of the obvious SEC Western Division implications, you have two coaches who have had no problem tossing verbal barbs each other’s way since they took over at their respective programs in 2013.
Arkansas’ Bret Bielema has mentioned the possible safety hazards that come with Gus Malzahn’s uptempo, spread attack. Malzahn said that any cry (from Bielema) about the uptempo being unsafe was a “joke.” Bielema insists he’s “no comedian.”
Oh, and don’t forget about the whole “faking an injury” issue combined with the “swinging gate” controversy and Bielema’s claim during his first year that Auburn’s required game tape didn’t exactly add up when you watched TV.
This relationship is salty at best, and it’s great for college football. We need some back and forth between some of the SEC coaches. It just makes things more exciting and entertaining, especially when you have a guy like Bielema, who isn’t afraid to say, well anything, sparing with someone like Malzahn, who never really says much at all.
Get your popcorn ready to see a downhill, bullish Arkansas attack collide with speed, power and speed from the Tigers. This is going to be a great destination for football on Oct. 24.
-- Edward Aschoff
Road trip 2: Texas A&M at Ole Miss
It’s Week 8 and neither road trip has been to The Grove yet. Are we crazy?
And no, we’re not just going for the tailgating, though a Saturday at Ole Miss in the fall is about as good as it gets. If you haven’t been yet, I recommend you go. But this trip is just as much about the game as it is the tailgating.
As is the case with just about every team in the SEC West, both Ole Miss and Texas A&M are contenders in their division. Maybe I’m a little more bullish than most on these two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the winner of this game still in the mix for Atlanta when it’s over. Both have deficiencies, but both also have the talent to make a run.
The Rebels have at least four players on their roster projected to go in the first round of next year’s NFL draft. There aren’t many schools in college football, let alone the SEC, that can say that. The quarterback position might be a concern now, but by this time in the season, somebody will have likely emerged.
As for Texas A&M, we all know how bad the defense was last season, but this is a unit that should improve every week under new coordinator John Chavis. And with all of the playmakers on offense, Kyle Allen (and possibly Kyler Murray) at quarterback, and Jake Spavital calling the shots, the Aggies are going to score points.
It’s a new venue, two relatively new teams to the road trip, and yet, it’s a game that could eventually shape the outcome in the West. What more could you want?
-- Greg Ostendorf