Who Has the Toughest Schedule in the SEC West?
With two national title contenders and three other teams that could make a run at a Top 10 ranking if all play to their potential, navigating the waters in the West will be tougher than ever.
However, thanks to the schedule, doing so will be much easier for some than others. Having a favorable schedule can go a long way towards determining a team's success, and for the title contenders, it's all about having a manageable road to a championship.
We've already ran through the schedules in the SEC East to determine which team would face the toughest slate of games next season, so it only makes sense to do the same with the SEC West.
Can Auburn repeat as SEC champions? Does Alabama have a nice road to get back to the national title game? Or will another team benefit from the schedule and surprise us all?
Let's rank the schedules in the West from easiest to toughest to find out.
Non-Conference: West Virginia, Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Western Carolina
SEC Home: Florida, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn
SEC Away: Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU
Nick Saban and company have a great path to another SEC championship. The Crimson Tide get Auburn at home, and road games at Ole Miss and LSU could be the most crucial games on the schedule.
6. Ole Miss
Non-Conference: Boise State, LA-Lafayette, Memphis, Presbyterian
SEC Home: Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State
SEC Away: Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas
What stands out most about the Rebels' schedule is that they could be favorites in all four SEC road games. Getting Bama, Auburn, and Mississippi State at home is simply outstanding.
5. Mississippi State
Non-Conference: Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, UT Martin
SEC Home: Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Vanderbilt
SEC Away: LSU, Kentucky, Alabama, Ole Miss
The Bulldogs have the softest non-conference slate in the league, and not getting Georgia or South Carolina from the East helps. The SEC road schedule looks rather daunting, though.
Non-Conference: Wisconsin, Sam Houston State, UL Monroe, New Mexico State
SEC Home: Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Alabama
SEC Away: Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Although LSU may take a step back next season, the schedule isn't all that horrible. Opening with Wisconsin won't be easy, and playing at Auburn and Florida in consecutive weeks is pretty difficult. Otherwise, getting Bama and the Mississippi schools at home is nice.
Non-Conference: Nicholls State, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, UAB
SEC Home: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss
SEC Away: Auburn, Texas A&M (Neutral), Mississippi State, Missouri
The Razorbacks' home schedule certainly stands out, but it's much better than getting those teams on the road. A non-conference tilt with Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium should be fun.
2. Texas A&M
Non-Conference: Lamar, Rice, SMU, UL Monroe
SEC Home: Ole Miss, Missouri, LSU
SEC Away: South Carolina, Arkansas (Neutral), Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn
Texas A&M's road schedule is less than ideal. Every true road game could result in a shellacking considering that the four teams on the schedule could all win at least 10 games.
Non-Conference: San Jose State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Samford
SEC Home: Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M
SEC Away: Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama
Auburn may be better overall than Alabama, but it's the schedule that separates these two rivals. Every single road game on the schedule -- Kansas State included -- is going to test the Tigers. And when you consider that Auburn gets the two toughest teams by far in the East, it may take a couple of more miracles for this team to return to the national title game.
Who do you think has the toughest schedule in the SEC West? Let us know your thoughts on the schedules by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!