Welcome back to another installment of Three by Three, where I identify interesting things going on in the college football world in the following format: three about Mizzou, three about the SEC, and then three about the nation at large. With the release of the 2024 SEC football schedule last night, I’m going to draw your attention to nine games I’m excited for, three on Mizzou’s schedule, three intraleague games, and three SEC vs the nation matchups. [Side Note: I just realized I never wrote one of these about the 2023 schedule! Hmmm, maybe I’ll circle back to that in the dog days.]
Anyway, right now we are all about the 2024 docket. Let’s get it on!
Hosting Oklahoma – This is the good stuff. The last time the Sooners played at Faurot, Gahn McGaffie did his thing and College Gameday history was made. I will be excited to watch an SEC Network broadcast that revisits that kind of storied Big 12 tradition all night. Also, one of my favorite new SEC traditions is when teams fire their coaches after losing to Mizzou; fanbases HATE when that happens. So now I’m just thinking about how Oklahoma can become a real SEC team in 2024.
Hosting Arkansas – Honestly, I am glad they are sticking with this. I know it is fun for both fanbases to proclaim this is not a real rivalry, but these things are not built overnight. The Hogs are easily the closest thing Mizzou will ever have to a geographic, program peer, and cultural rival in the SEC. Just keep playing every year until the rivalry is “real” after a few generations of fans have grown up hating a loss to the other school.
At Mississippi State – Both of Mizzou’s SEC contests against the Starkville Bulldogs were dismal blowouts. First, there was the rain-soaked effort in 2015, and then the COVID-soaked slog in 2020. It will be nice to get these guys in a (hopefully) normal scenario. Unless the cowbells drive me insane first.
Oklahoma at LSU – This is the first regular season matchup ever between these two historic programs; they have previously only played in three bowl games. You remember the last one, when Joe Burrow and company incinerated Lincoln Riley’s outfit in the playoffs. The Sooners at Death Valley will be special.
Georgia at Texas – A few weeks ago the college football internet lost their collective minds about the SEC staying at eight game schedules for 2024. But the vision was always clear: why go to nine if ESPN was refusing to make the contract richer? What would be the point of giving them free inventory? Instead, this is Greg Sankey’s power play: giving the mouse a slate absolutely loaded with helmet games, and dare them to say no to buying more after the ratings come in.
Texas against Arkansas/Texas A&M – I mean, come on. The return of the rivalry between the Longhorns and the Aggies is the first thing you thought of when you heard about this round of realignment. And don’t sleep on the Texas/Arkansas rivalry, a matchup that has not been played a lot in recent years but is steeped in history and bad blood. The eyes of the nation will be upon you, Texas.
SEC vs the Nation
Note: I am skipping all the neutral site games (LSU vs USC is a humdinger, but it should be on campus, not in Vegas), and I am skipping all the ACC rivalry games that happen every year.
Alabama at Wisconsin – This is a powerhouse matchup of “grown man football,” two teams that love to get big, strong, fast guys and lean on each other. It should be a righteous collision of agile beef.
Georgia Southern at Ole Miss – Now this is a fun little game. Georgia Southern won at Nebraska last year, and also beat a ranked James Madison team. Their offense under Clay Helton has been an RPO frenzy and they are keeping the skill position rooms well-stocked. Ole Miss will likely win comfortably in the end, but not before both teams put up a heaping pile of points and yards.
Miami at Florida – For college football fans of a certain age – you know, like me – these teams just should always be good. It feels right when they are good, and when they play each other. In 2024 both teams will be entering year three of their current regime, and one or both of Billy Napier and Mario Cristobal could be feeling a little hot seat pressure. A fun in-state rivalry game that doubles as an Anxiety Bowl? Sign me up!