- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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We've already checked out what September has in store for SEC teams. Now, it's time to check out October's slate. It's the heart of the SEC season, so we'll use the term "easiest" loosely here:
TOUGHEST OCTOBER SCHEDULES
1. South Carolina (Georgia, at LSU, at Florida, Tennessee): The Gamecocks' road to Atlanta is brutal in October. Georgia appears to be South Carolina's biggest challenge for the East title. The rumble with the Bulldogs also comes a week before the Gamecocks go on the road in consecutive weeks to LSU and Florida before coming home to a Tennessee team that could possess one of the best passing games in the SEC.
2. Florida (LSU, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia at Jacksonville, Fla.): The Gators get two home games, but they're against an LSU team looking for another national championship berth and a South Carolina team that will enter the season as one of the league's best. Playing at Vandy won't be easy and the annual Cocktail Party with Georgia has been extremely competitive the past two years.
3. Tennessee (at Mississippi State, Alabama, at South Carolina): The Vols only have three games to play in October, but all three will be tough. Starkville, Miss., can always be frustrating for opponents. Alabama is at home, but the Tide are still one of the top teams in the country. Oh, and that trip to Columbia, S.C., to end the month could be draining.
4. Kentucky (Mississippi State, at Arkansas, Georgia, at Missouri): Having to play Mississippi State and Georgia at home is certainly better than being on the road, but it's not like these games will be any easier. Taking an unproven offense into Fayetteville, Ark., sounds like a bad recipe for the Cats. And Missouri's offense should have a lot in store for Kentucky's defense, which is replacing a lot from last year.
5. Alabama (at Missouri, at Tennessee, Mississippi State): The defending champs aren't getting many favors in 2012. After having the toughest September, the Crimson Tide must play two consecutive SEC games on the road before coming home to play what should be a tough Mississippi State squad.
EASIEST OCTOBER SCHEDULES
1. Arkansas (at Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss at Little Rock): I'm still convinced that Auburn will put up a few fights this season in the West, but that youth is worrisome against this talented Arkansas team. It's hard to see either Kentucky's or Ole Miss' defense having much success against that high-powered Hogs offense. Arkansas also gets a bye before Ole Miss.
2. Missouri (Vanderbilt, Alabama, Kentucky): The good news is that Missouri gets all of its games at home in October and a bye. Unfortunately, that bye doesn't come before the Alabama game. But the Tigers should be favored against Vandy and Kentucky.
3. Vanderbilt (at Missouri, Florida, Auburn, Massachusetts): The Commodores have three home games in October, but start on the road against a Missouri team that could challenge in the East. Florida and Auburn will no doubt be tough, but surely UMass won't be much of a problem for the Dores.
4. Mississippi State (at Kentucky, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, at Alabama): You could say this is kind of a toss up with Vandy, but the Bulldogs do go on the road twice. The Bulldogs haven't lost to Kentucky during the Dan Mullen era, but the final game of the month is at Alabama. Middle Tennessee shouldn't be too much of an issue, but that Tennessee game should be fun to watch.
5. Texas A&M (at Ole Miss, LSU, at Auburn): The Aggies only have three games and a bye week before they host LSU, but must go on the road to two new SEC environments. Ole Miss will have its hands full, but the Aggies will be coming off of a tough game against Arkansas. Auburn is young, but will have the advantage of playing at home.
We've already checked out what September has in store for SEC teams. Now, it's time to check out October's slate. It's the heart of the SEC season, so we'll use the term "easiest" loosely here:TOUGHEST OCTOBER SCHEDULES1.