SEC's toughest September schedules

May, 11, 2011
5/11/11
2:00
PM ET
Now that we’ve analyzed the 2011 schedules for all 12 SEC teams, who has the toughest road to navigate by month?

We’ll start with September, ranking the three hardest schedules in the first month of the season and making special note of the easiest.

1. LSU: Oregon in Arlington Texas on Sept. 3, Northwestern State on Sept. 10, at Mississippi State on Sept. 15 and at West Virginia on Sept. 24.

The skinny: Playing two BCS nonconference opponents away from home, including the opener against top 5-ranked Oregon, speaks for itself. Plus, there’s a trip to Mississippi State on a Thursday night. The Tigers will need to be on top of their game from the jump.

2. Georgia: Boise State in Atlanta on Sept. 3, South Carolina on Sept. 10, Coastal Carolina on Sept. 17 and at Ole Miss on Sept. 24.

The skinny: The first two games are enough to earn the Bulldogs a spot near the top of these rankings. Boise State will start the season ranked in the top 10 nationally, and South Carolina will be the preseason favorite to repeat in the East. We'll know a lot more about the direction of the Georgia program following those first two weeks.

3. Alabama: Kent State on Sept. 3, at Penn State on Sept. 10, North Texas on Sept. 17 and Arkansas on Sept. 24.

The skinny: Look past the two gimmies against Kent State and North Texas. Any time you have to go to State College the second week of the season and play Penn State and then come back to play what should be Bobby Petrino’s best Arkansas team yet two weeks later, you’re taking on a full load.

The cushiest path in the month of September belongs to Florida. The Gators open the season with their annual warm-ups -- Florida Atlantic and UAB. They remain at home to face Tennessee the third week of the season and have won six straight against the Vols. The only time Florida leaves the Swamp that first month is to play Kentucky on Sept. 24, and the Gators have won 24 in a row against the Wildcats.

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