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Guilbeau: SEC Weekends Like This Are Why There Should Be A 10-Game League Schedule

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It’s almost Thanksgiving – a time for football, family, cold weather, warm turkey, cold turkey and Wild Turkey.

Even in the Deep South, it’s crisp and cool outside – perfect football weather amid the leaves changing colors, tea leaves revealing the next LSU coach, and key games on the horizon to decide the College Football Playoffs final four.

And Saturday in Athens, Georgia, at that Sanford Stadium college football cathedral between the hedges we have No. 1 Georgia (10-0) against?

Why, No. 189 Charleston Southern (4-5)!

Yes, what a classic game it will be. So classic, Las Vegas oddsmakers have refused to put a betting line on it because it would stretch into the 50s. So big, the game will not be televised on the SEC Network, and the SEC Network televises just about everything. It will be streaming at 11 a.m. central time on SEC+ and ESPN+, which is kind of the minus channel.

Yes, the Buccaneers, who are 3-4 in the FCS Big South Conference, are No. 189 by the Sagarin rankings, which lists teams 1 through 258. Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., by the way, is No. 258 at 2-8 on the season. Their nickname is not the Comeback Kids, rather, the Blue Hose. Insert your own joke here ___________________. But the Hose will probably be watering down an SEC stadium near you soon.

And Charleston Southern is not even the worst team making an SEC schedule Saturday, because the SEC just means more, as we all know, except apparently in November, because that’s just not a football month.

No. 214 Tennessee State (5-5) will play at No. 25 (College Football Playoff ranking) Mississippi State (6-4, 4-3 SEC) at 11 a.m., also streaming on SEC+ and ESPN+. No Vegas line on this one either. So, if you’re still drinking Wild Turkey, set your VCRs now.

Also streaming at 11 a.m. on SEC+ and ESPN+ will be No. 197 Prairie View (7-2) at No. 16 Texas A&M (7-3, 4-3 SEC). The Aggies are a 45-point favorite. Maybe they’re clogging all these games at 11 a.m., so fewer folks will notice.

In still another 11 a.m. game is No. 185 New Mexico State (1-9) on the second leg of its SEC tour at Kentucky (7-3, 5-3 SEC) on the SEC Network. The Aggies lost at No. 2 Alabama last week, 59-3 as a 51-point underdog, which had a little to do with there being no line on the Georgia-Charleston Southern and the Mississippi State-Tennessee State games. Kentucky is a 35-point favorite.

New Mexico State is referred to as Whew Mexico State and is No. 1 in the latest Bottom 10 rankings by ESPN’s Ryan McGee, who has been carrying on in recent years a tradition brilliantly started by Steve Harvey of the Los Angeles Times in 1972.

And there are still more on this fabulous football weekend, brought to you by the nation’s best football conference, apparently because it knows how to schedule.

No. 12 Ole Miss (8-2, 4-2 SEC) will get non-conference breather Vanderbilt (2-8), which is No. 150 in Sagarin and No. 9 in the Bottom 10, which lists it as the Commode Doors instead of the Commodores. They are No. 150 in Sagarin. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. on the SEC Network.

Oh, wait, sorry, Vanderbilt is in the SEC. Shoot. Always forget. Maybe because of the non-conference-like point spreads. Ole Miss, for example, is a 36-point favorite by FanDuel over 0-6 Vandy.

No. 133 South Alabama (5-5), which would be favored over Vanderbilt, plays at Tennessee (5-5, 3-4 SEC) at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU as a 27-point underdog.

And in the nightcap, No. 153 Louisiana-Monroe plays at LSU (4-6, 2-5 SEC) at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 as a 28-point underdog.

There are some decent games – No. 21 Arkansas (7-3, 3-3 SEC) at No. 2 Alabama (9-1, 5-1 SEC) in the 2:30 p.m. CBS game, and Auburn (6-4, 3-3 SEC) at South Carolina (5-5, 2-5 SEC) at 6 p.m. on ESPN. And we may get to see more of Florida coach Dan Mullen’s incremental meltdown as the Gators (5-5, 2-5 SEC) play at Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC) in a battle of mediocre programs and excellent journalism schools.

There are 14 teams in the SEC, and all of them play four non-conference games and eight league games. Most of them play one or two very good non-conference teams and two or three really bad ones. With the playoffs increasing from four teams to eight or 12 in the future, it would make better sense for there to just be 11 regular season games with 10 conference games.

This would work because there will always be two or three in-league breathers, even excluding Vanderbilt. That’s the natural order of things. There are never double-digit strong SEC teams. In this plan, then each SEC team can schedule one non-conference breather instead of nearly a month of them.

When the league expands to include Texas and Oklahoma soon, the league must go to 10 games. It would be ridiculous to have 16 teams and play eight league games.

If the SEC is truly the best football conference, it should schedule like one, and quit doing the Charleston around it.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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  1. Those games are part of the financial security of the athletic departments at those schools. New Mexico State playing ‘Bama and Kentucky probably keeps the football program operating.

    I agree there should be more conference games when the SEC moves to a 16 team league.

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