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Friday, May 10, 2013
Looking ahead to nonconference matchups

By Chris Low

With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, I think we’ll start to see even more marquee nonconference matchups.

Coaches might not like the idea, but fans will.

There’s nothing worse than the national race heating up in November and having to sit through a 50-point rout against some FCS team that has absolutely no chance.

The tricky part for SEC schools is whether or not the league will go to nine conference games down the road. It’s going to be discussed this month at the spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and my sense is that it’s going to happen … just not in the next couple of years.

We’re already seeing several schools in the SEC lining up high-profile nonconference games.

Arkansas and TCU will meet in a home-and-home series in 2016 and 2017. The Hogs have also had discussions about playing Texas Tech beginning next year, and are scheduled to play Michigan in a home-and-home series in 2018 and 2019.

LSU is in conversations with Wisconsin about facing the Badgers in Houston’s Reliant Stadium to open the 2014 season.

The neutral-site games will continue to be popular among SEC schools. It counts as a win away from home, and beating top teams away from home will undoubtedly carry significant weight with the selection committee.

This coming season will be the fifth time under Nick Saban that Alabama has played a high-profile nonconference game at a neutral site. The Crimson Tide will open the season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. They will also open the 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against West Virginia. And in 2015, Alabama will open the season against Wisconsin in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Below is a look at some of the other attractive nonconference matchups involving SEC teams coming up over the next several years (not counting annual matchups such as Florida vs. Florida State or South Carolina vs. Clemson). Obviously, this is subject to change:

2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019