- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Tuesday, we checked out the SEC's nonconference schedules, thanks to Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman. So today it's time to check out SEC schedules on a month-by-month basis and ranking the five toughest and five easiest schedules for each month.
Easy probably doesn't do some of the schedules much justice, so just consider them less difficult.
September is the first month of the college football season, so we'll start there.
TOUGHEST SEPTEMBER SCHEDULES
1. Alabama (Michigan at Arlington, Texas, Western Kentucky, at Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss): The opener has a BCS feel to it with a Michigan team that is top-10 material. Western Kentucky and FAU don't stand much of a chance, but that game at Arkansas will be huge. A younger Alabama defense versus arguably the SEC's top offense. Should be fun.
2. Florida (Bowling Green, at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Kentucky): The Gators will be heavily favored against Bowling Green and Kentucky, but back-to-back SEC road games won't be easy. Florida and its young, unproven offense will be a part of Texas A&M's first SEC game -- and that environment should be beyond electric -- while the Tennessee game will be crucial for both the Gators and Vols.
3. Ole Miss (Central Arkansas, UTEP, Texas, at Tulane, at Alabama): With the way the Rebels have really struggled the past two years, a 2-0 start would be refreshing. However, the rest of the month should take a toll on Ole Miss. Texas should be better and could compete for the Big 12 title and back-to-back road games with a new coach will be challenging, especially when you end with the defending champs.
4. Auburn (Clemson at Atlanta, at Mississippi State, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU): Auburn might deserve to be higher, but the Tigers figure to be a better team than the Rebels this fall and Ole Miss has two true road games back to back. Clemson got the best of Auburn last year, and Auburn is still young and went through a lot of offseason changes. Traveling to Starkville, Miss., will be no picnic and LSU is looking to make back-to-back national championship runs.
5. Arkansas (Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe at Little Rock, Ark., Alabama, Rutgers, at Texas A&M): The Hogs should roll the first two weeks, but then have three interesting matchups. We all know how big the Alabama game is, Rutgers is no slouch and Texas A&M will no doubt be looking for revenge after the Aggies' meltdown against Arkansas last year.
EASIEST SEPTEMBER SCHEDULES
1. Mississippi State (Jackson State, Auburn, at Troy, South Alabama): Outside of the home game against Auburn, it should be smooth sailing for the Bulldogs with two non-FBS opponents. Troy puts up a fight against the big boys, but Mississippi State should be favored heading into that game.
2. LSU (North Texas, Washington, Idaho, at Auburn, Towson): Not exactly the start the Tigers had in 2011. Washington wasn't bad last year, but the Huskies were far from great and LSU should have its way with Idaho and Towson.
3. South Carolina: (at Vanderbilt, East Carolina, UAB, Missouri, at Kentucky): Starting the season at Vandy will present some challenges for the Gamecocks, but South Carolina is the better team. Having Mizzou at home is a plus for the Gamecocks and South Carolina should handle its other three opponents.
4. Texas A&M (Louisiana Tech at Shreveport, La. (Aug. 30), Florida, at SMU, South Carolina State, Arkansas): Louisiana Tech might not be a real cupcake, but the Aggies have more overall talent. Florida will bring a young, unproven QB to the Aggies' first SEC game. SMU could be tricky, but South Carolina State is a gimmie. Fortunately for the Aggies, Arkansas is at home.
5. Tennessee (NC State at Atlanta, Georgia State, Florida, Akron, at Georgia): NC State could give the Vols some issues, but Tennessee can't start the season with a loss to the Wolfpack. Tennessee should take care of Georgia State and Akron relatively easily, while Florida is coming off the road to travel to Knoxville. That game at Georgia is worrisome.
3hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough