Power Ranking Non-Conference Schedules in the SEC West
1. Arkansas Razorbacks: Sept. 6, Nicholls State Colonels (4-8)*; Sept. 13, Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-5); Sept. 20, Northern Illinois Huskies (12-2); Oct. 25, UAB Blazers (2-10).
Why: It’s kind of sad that this is the strongest non-conference schedule in the SEC West, but when you’re from the best division in college football, you get a free pass.
2. Auburn Tigers: Sept. 6, San Jose State Spartans (6-6); Sept. 18, Kansas State Wildcats (9-4); Sept. 27, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-8); Nov. 22, Samford Bulldogs (8-5)*.
Why: If Gus Malzahn and the Tigers are going to make another national title run, it’s going to have to start by beating Kansas State on Sept. 18.
3. LSU Tigers: Aug. 30, Wisconsin Badgers (9-4); Sept. 6, Sam Houston State Bearkats (9-5)*; Sept. 6, ULM Warhawks (6-6); Sept. 27, New Mexico State Aggies (2-10).
Why: Wisconsin went toe-to-toe with South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl before quarterback Joel Stave left with injury. The Badgers will be a huge test for a new-look LSU offense.
4. Ole Miss Rebels: Aug. 28, Boise State Broncos (8-5); Sept. 13, ULL Ragin’ Cajuns (9-4); Sept. 27, Memphis Tigers (3-9); Nov. 8, Presbyterian Blue Hose (3-8)*.
Why: Ole Miss will get the first look of the post-Chris Petersen era in Boise.
5. Texas A&M Aggies: Sept. 6, Lamar Cardinals (5-7)*; Sept. 13, Rice Owls (10-4); Sept. 20, SMU Mustangs (5-7); Nov. 1, ULM Warhawks (6-6).
Why: They may no longer have Johnny Manziel, but whoever is starting under center for the Aggies will get some time to figure things out against some lesser opponents.
6. Alabama Crimson Tide: Aug. 30, West Virginia Mountaineers (4-8); Sept. 6, Florida Atlantic Owls (6-6); Sept. 13, Southern Miss Golden Eagles (1-11); Nov. 22, Western Carolina Catamounts (2-10)*.
Why: We saw something we’re not used to seeing when Alabama lost its final two games of the 2013 season. Man, I feel bad for Dana Holgorsen.
7. Mississippi State Bulldogs: Aug. 30, Southern Miss Golden Eagles (1-11); Sept. 6, UAB Blazers (2-10); Sept. 13, South Alabama Jaguars (6-6); Nov. 8, UT Martin Skyhawks (7-5)*.
Why: It doesn’t get much easier than Southern Miss, UAB and South Alabama all in a row to start the season. If Mississippi State doesn’t go 4-0 in non-conference play, 2014 will be a bust.
*denotes FCS team
What do you think about these non-conference schedule rankings? Let us know in the comment box below! Hit me up on Twitter or follow the FanIQ College Football blog!