In what was easily the most highly anticipated schedule announcement of Missouri's history (since, for most of Missouri's history, there has been no anticipation for schedules -- one day, they simply exist), the 2012 SEC football schedule was revealed today at the SEC's official website.
Here is Missouri's first SEC slate:
September 8: Georgia
September 22: at South Carolina
October 6: Vanderbilt
October 13: Alabama
October 27: Kentucky
November 3: at Florida
November 10: at Tennessee
November 24: at Texas A&M
It's on, eh?
Here are the 2011 F/+ rankings for next year's conference opponents: No. 2 Alabama, No. 11 Georgia, No. 15 South Carolina, No. 19 Texas A&M, No. 45 Florida, No. 46 Vanderbilt, No. 52 Tennessee, No. 91 Kentucky.
Average rank : 35.1
Average rank (without max and min): 31.3
Here are the average 2011 F/+ rankings for this year's conference opponents: No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 19 Texas A&M, No. 23 Baylor, No. 27 Texas, No. 36 Kansas State, No. 73 Iowa State, No. 77 Texas Tech, No. 112 Kansas.
Average rank : 42.0
Average rank (without max and min): 37.6
So the SEC slate is a little more difficult ... except for one thing: the Big 12 schedule featured nine games. Add what will probably be a second FCS opponent to the mix (for these purposes, we'll say they rank 121st out of 120 FBS teams) as Game No. 9, and here are the new averages for next year's SEC slate:
Average rank: 44.7
Average rank (without max and min): 39.9
Mizzou faces a rough slate of opponents in in 2012. But they did in 2011, too. And as long as the SEC sticks with an eight-game schedule (which probably won't be forever, mind you), the schedules really won't be any more difficult than they looked in what really was a pretty loaded Big 12. The SEC is a little better at the top and, usually, the bottom, but the Big 12 was probably the strongest "middle portion" conference in the country this year.
The major difference, of course: there is no "non-conference season" anymore. By October 1, Mizzou will have already hosted Georgia and Arizona State (probably) and traveled to South Carolina, and at least one, and maybe two, of the usual "tuneup" games versus lesser opponents won't happen until the back half of the schedule. And for better or worse, Senior Day will likely be against Directional Tech.
The major remaining questions on the table:
- Who fills out the non-conference schedule? Mizzou initially had Arizona State (9/15, home), Southern Illinois (9/8, home) and Miami-Ohio (9/22, road) lined up, with one more non-conference game needed. Now, with some dates getting seirously shuffled, it is unclear whether Mizzou will retain SIU and Miami. They could be in the market for numerous new non-conference opponents (and on short notice). One thing is quite likely: Mizzou will almost certainly have to dig into the FCS ranks more than once to fill the schedule. This is almost certainly a one-time-only thing, but such is life.
- Who comes to town for Homecoming? On the Big 12 schedule, Mizzou was scheduled to host Texas A&M for Homecoming on October 27. Now, they appear to have two options: Alabama on October 13 and Kentucky on October 27. As The Beef mentioned to me in e-mail this morning, making Alabama the Homecoming opponent would be a bit stupid, as it will sell out regardless; making Kentucky the Homecoming opponent would likely make for back-to-back home sellouts. Oh, but Bama would be a ballsy, if indeed dumb, choice, wouldn't it?
- What are the expectations for next year? There are, presumably, three potential East Division heavyweights in 2012: Georgia, South Carolina and maybe Florida. Mizzou faces two of the three on the road. What are your optimistic expectations, and what do you figure are the more reasonable expectations?
- How fun would it be to win in College Station for a third straight year?