- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Wednesday, we looked at and ranked the SEC Eastern Division crossover schedules. Today, we're heading out West, to see how the other half of the conference is set up to play its eastern counterparts.
Here's how we ranked the Western Division's 2012 crossover schedules, starting with the most difficult:
1. LSU (at Florida, South Carolina): If LSU is going to make another run to the BCS title game, it'll have to get through the already tough SEC West AND tackle two teams that could contend for the SEC East title in consecutive weeks. Florida should be improved, and the Swamp has historically been one of the toughest college football venues to play in, while South Carolina enters the year as one of the top overall teams in the SEC.
2. Alabama (at Missouri, at Tennessee): The defending champs have to go on the road for both of their crossover games. Neither school is currently on Alabama's level, but road games are never easy in the SEC, especially back to back, and this Alabama team is missing some key players/leaders from last year's squad. Missouri's high-flying offense could give Bama's younger defense some fits, while Tennessee has the potential to have a pretty potent passing game.
3. Arkansas (Kentucky, at South Carolina): The Razorbacks should get by Kentucky, but that game at South Carolina will be no walk in the park. Sure, Arkansas has had the Gamecocks' number recently, but South Carolina is on a mission to get back to Atlanta for the SEC championship game. Williams-Brice Stadium will no doubt be rocking when the Hogs come to town.
4. Ole Miss (at Georgia, Vanderbilt): The Rebels weren't done any favors by having to go on the road to play a Georgia team that should be favored to win the East for the second straight year. Ole Miss hasn't won in Athens since 1996. The Commodores were a surprise last year and are looking to build off of that success. They've also won two straight in Oxford. Ole Miss plays these games back to back.
5. Auburn (at Vanderbilt, Georgia): Vandy is still looking to develop a more intimidating home-field atmosphere, but the Commodores definitely have a team that will give other SEC teams fits again in 2012. Georgia rolled over the Tigers in Athens last fall, but Auburn gets the Dawgs in its own house this time. No one will have to encourage Auburn's fan base to get rowdy for this one.
6. Texas A&M (Florida, Missouri): The good news is that the Aggies get both of these teams at home. And they come at the beginning (Florida) and end (Missouri) of the season. Texas A&M will face an unproven Florida offense, but must get by a loaded Gators defense. Missouri, which won in College Station in 2011, returns a handful of solid pieces on both sides of the ball from last season. Still, having both at home is an advantage for A&M.
7. Mississippi State (at Kentucky, Tennessee): These Bulldogs have developed a fun little rivalry with Kentucky, but the Wildcats should still be a little overmatched in this one with so many questions on both sides of the ball. Tennessee has the weapons in place to have one of the top passing games in the conference, but Mississippi State's defense won't be intimidated and neither will the home crowd in Starkville.
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