Power Ranking the SEC’s 2015 Cross-Division Schedules

By Amy Daughters -

Is playing Georgia on the road the same thing as drawing Kentucky at home?

It’s a ridiculous question, right? True, but it’s precisely the difference between two SEC West teams’ cross-division schedules in 2015.

Where Mississippi State draws Kentucky in Starkville and then travels to Missouri, Alabama will hit the road to play Georgia between the hedges and then hosts Tennessee in Tuscaloosa.

So, while both teams are in the same conference and the same division, their SEC schedules aren’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison.

Remember that SEC teams have “permanent cross-division rivals”, opponents they will play each and every season. So in reality, teams only get one opponent from the other division on a rotating basis.

Here’s a look at the SEC cross-division opponents from the easiest to most difficult, both for the West and the East. It’s another lesson in how all schedules are not created equal and therefore, one team’s 8-5 record is not the same as another’s 8-5 finish.

West Division

7. Mississippi State

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Kentucky
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Missouri

The Bulldogs scored big by landing Kentucky as their permanent dance partner from the East, beating the Wildcats six straight and seven out of the last eight tries.

Mississippi State will travel to Columbia to face Mizzou this season, where it’s only visited once previously, in 1984, losing 47-30. The Tigers are 14-4 in SEC play since 2013, but curiously both of their regular-season losses have come at home.

6. Texas A&M

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: South Carolina
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Vanderbilt

The Gamecocks will be looking for revenge when they show up in College Station for the first time in history, the memory of the 52-28 beat down from last season still raw and festering.

Though we don’t know whether 7-6 South Carolina from 2014 or the 11-2 version from the year before will turn up, it’s safe to say that Texas A&M should be able to handle a Vanderbilt team that is fresh off a 3-9 finish.

5. Ole Miss

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Vanderbilt
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Florida

The other lottery winner from the West in cross-division partners, Ole Miss gets Vandy every year, a team it’s won two straight against, scoring a 41-3 thrashing last season in Nashville.

Things get dicier with Florida on the road. The Gators may have slid to a 7-5 finish in 2014, but they have a new coach and as much talent as any team in the country. The Rebels have won two straight in the Swamp (2003 and 2008), but before that hadn’t won there since 1989.

4. Auburn

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Georgia
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Kentucky

In 2015, Auburn has a best-case scenario in its cross-division slate, combining its difficult permanent fixture with Georgia, arguably the best team from the East, with Kentucky, arguably the weakest.

The Tigers have only fallen to the Wildcats once in the last 17 years, a 21-14 loss in 2009 in Auburn. They haven’t lost in Lexington since 1966.

3. Arkansas

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Missouri
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Tennessee

Though Mizzou/Tennessee might not look like a knock-out punch, at 18-9 the two hooked up for the best combined record of any duo from the East in 2014.

Add in that Arkansas’ back-to-back wins over LSU and Ole Miss last season where it’s first SEC victories since 2012 and you get the picture: These games won’t be a picnic for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas hasn’t faced Missouri since losing the 2008 Cotton Bowl, it hasn’t played a regular-season game vs. the Tigers since 1963. The Hogs haven’t squared off with Tennessee since 2011 and have dropped six straight in Knoxville, last winning there in 1992.

2. Alabama

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Tennessee
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at Georgia

For now, it seems like Alabama has dodged a bullet by drawing Tennessee as its permanent fixture from the East. But if the Vols continue to improve under Butch Jones, posting a bowl-eligible record in 2014 for the first time since 2009, all bets are off.

The Crimson Tide have won eight straight vs. Tennessee, last falling in 2006 in Knoxville and last losing in Tuscaloosa in 2003.

Alabama hasn’t met Georgia in the regular season since 2008, a game it won 41-30 in Athens.

1.  LSU

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: Florida
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: at South Carolina

Other than Auburn who meets Georgia annually, the other West school which will continue to work against a stacked deck is LSU, forced to face Florida on a year-in, year-out basis.

The Tigers have won four of the last five vs. the Gators, but again, Florida is one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

Add in a road trip to South Carolina, and it’s a lethal combination.

The good news is, LSU hasn’t fallen to the Gamecocks since 1994, one of only two all-time losses. It’s worth mentioning that the last two games, in 2008 and 2012, where decided by a total of nine points.

East Division

7. Missouri

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Arkansas
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Mississippi State

Even though Arkansas looks to be an up-and-coming program, it’s still been the weakest link in the West for several seasons running. That, for now, gives Mizzou what’s technically the easiest permanent fixture.

The Tigers have never lost to Mississippi State, but the two teams have only met twice previously, in 1981 and 1984.

6. Vanderbilt

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Ole Miss
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Texas A&M

The SEC West is arguably the toughest division in all of college football, meaning that after the Arkansas-Mississippi State combo that Missouri drew, it’s splitting hairs ranking the next six slates.

Vandy’s permanent foe from the West is Ole Miss, a team it’s lost two straight to, but before that scored three consecutive victories. Though the Rebels won’t be easy, it’s certainly not Alabama or LSU.

In 2015, the Commodores get Texas A&M in the rotation, a school it’s only faced once in history, a 56-24 loss in 2013. Again, though the Aggies aren’t anywhere near a pushover, it’s also not like squaring off with Nick Saban and friends.

5. South Carolina

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Texas A&M
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: LSU

The reason South Carolina’s cross-over slate is rated one step below Florida’s is twofold. First, they get Texas A&M instead of Ole Miss. Yes, the Aggies did embarrass the Gamecocks last season, but on paper the 9-4 Rebels were one game better than 8-5 A&M was in 2014. Plus, this year’s game is in late October, so don’t look for an early-season surprise.

Next up, South Carolina gets LSU, the common opponent between the two schools, at home in Columbia as opposed to in Baton Rouge.

4. Florida

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at LSU
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Ole Miss

Florida’s attempt to return to national prominence under new head coach Jim McElwain will be hampered by its permanent status with LSU, a team it’s dropped two straight to and four of the last five.

Other than that in 2015 its Ole Miss, a squad the Gators have surprisingly lost three of the last four to. That said, keep in mind that they’ve not met since 2008.

3. Tennessee

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Alabama
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Arkansas

Despite drawing Arkansas in its rotation game, Tennessee earns the No. 3 slot in the East by virtue of its road trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama, a team it has lost eight straight to. The last time the Vols won on the road vs. the Crimson Tide was 2003.

Tennessee is another team whose attempts to right the ship will be seriously hamstringed by the concept of a permanent cross-division rival, a foe that in this case just so happens to be Alabama.

2. Kentucky

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Mississippi State
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Auburn

Can Mark Stoops get Kentucky to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010? Well, it’s a job that will more difficult with a road trip to Mississippi State and a home match with Auburn.

The Wildcats have lost six straight to the Bulldogs, last winning in 2008 in Starkville. As for Auburn, Kentucky did beat the Tigers as recently as 2009, but that was the sole win in almost 50 years. The Wildcats are 1-16 vs. Auburn since 1967.

1. Georgia

Permanent Cross-Division Rival: at Auburn
Additional 2015 Cross-Division Game: Alabama

If Georgia makes it back to the SEC title game for the first time since 2012, it will likely have to knock off both Auburn and Alabama.

The Bulldogs are 3-2 vs. the Tigers since 2010 and won in Auburn as recently as 2012. Georgia hasn’t faced Alabama in the regular season since 2008 and haven’t scored a win at home vs. the Tide since 2007.

No matter how you slice it, at 20-7, the Bulldogs won’t only play the two cross-division teams with the best record of any team in the East, they’ll play the best duo in the entire SEC.

Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.

  1. Hank
    April 14, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Good job on these rankings, Amy. I think you nailed it.

  2. Schoup
    April 14, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Having 14 teams in 6-1-1 format is stupid or better put perfect for the Sisters Equal Cousins Conference, The inbreeding leads to stupidity such as thinking it makes since to play 6 teams in your conference twice every 12 years.

    • SECStrong
      April 14, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      Brutal comments about the South. I believe your envy is showing.

    • Travis B
      April 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      With 14 teams, they should play 9 conference games mr. SECstrong. I am not a hater, I am just a huge college football fan wanting to see better games. It’s pretty logical to realize that you play the same 7 opponents every season and then you play the other 6 twice every 12 years. That is a little ridiculous. I am not here to critique the schedules for being weak, I would just like to see more SEC teams play each other more often….

    • Evan
      April 14, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Yes they should go to a 9 game schedule. That way, Mizzou can go to the west and Auburn to the east, and Auburn can still have LSU and Bama as permanent opponents, and room for 1 rotating opponent.
      Personally, I would like to see all conferences only have 10 teams so everyone plays everyone, and there would be no conference championship games, and there could be more room for an 8 team playoff.

    • David
      April 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Evan, you’re so right but you’d have a problem going to 6-2 locked-1. True, Auburn has always belonged in the East, but because Alabama wanted to play Tennessee and Auburn every year, they got their way. Tenn wasn’t going to go to the West, so Auburn it was. It sucks not to play Tenn and UF every year like it used to be. I’d argue that LSU isn’t really a rivalry. AU hardly ever played LSU until divisional play days. Sure it’s a “battle of the Tigers” now, but it doesn’t make up for not seeing UF and Tenn every year. 6-1-1 would be fine if Mizzou and Auburn traded places, but then Bama has to choose Tenn or Auburn. See, doesn’t work. Bama sucks the life out of any arrangement. Just go to 10 conference games and go 6-2-2? Or add two teams and go 7-2-1? Yuck.

    • SECStrong
      April 15, 2015 at 8:50 am

      I agree that I would like to see more SEC games played (at least 9), I just thought Mr. Schoup’s comments about the South were a little over the top

    • Schoup
      April 15, 2015 at 9:54 am


      Sorry the truth hurts. The south are a collection of the poorest and least educated people. 14 of the 15 poorest states in the country are in the south. They as a whole dominate the bottom of every economic, health, social well being statistic. They are low income, low gdp, low education, etc…They elect people to federal office who complain about govt spending, when the money is disproportionately going to their dirt poor states. They are just too stupid to know the money is going to their states, The blue states these tootheles yokles hate pay their states bills, as they are all receiver states. CA, IL, NY, CT, MA, etc..the liberal states are all massive donor states to these toothless yokles. Simple solution to shut the idiots up they elect would be, when they whine about spending say great, you love to talk about supporting themselves, hate welfare, lets cut your states federal welfare. No state can receive back more than 15cents on the dollar than they pay in federal taxes and no less than 10 cents in taxes paid The red states would be twice as poor and even worse they they are now. States like CA who ave donated a trillion dollars over the last 30 years would get their money back.

    • Kevin Kelley
      April 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Please keep the discussion to football. Thanks.

    • Kevin Kelley
      April 15, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Please discontinue the attacks, stereotypes, etc. and keep the discussion to football.

    • Day
      April 15, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      I think it would be hard to discontinue the attacks on the south because that’s all schoup knows how to do. If he was to re-read what he said then he may find how low educated he actually is. Bashing the south about being low income, low educated does not help the matter. There are a lot of poor kids that rely on sports or a scholarship to college to better their lives with basketball or football. Calling the south stupid, idiots, toothless just shows your ignorant & if you ever made your way down here then you may be surprised on how it is not. Yes, we also have electricity & running water & the last time I checked California was not doing all that great either & please don’t blame that on the south as well. The south is very passionate about college football & they have every right to be as your passionate about bashing them.

    • schoup
      April 15, 2015 at 5:04 pm


      Sorry facts hurt and you can’t refute them.

  3. Travis B
    April 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Ohh and Arkansas/Missouri played last season FYI to the author…

  4. Dan
    April 15, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Not to take anything away from Alabama (because they have been a dynasty since Saban’s second year) but anyone can see they have a sizable advantage getting to play Tennessee every single season whereas LSU had to play Florida, and Auburn had to play Georgia over the last near-decade.

    When the SEC went to 14 teams they should have done one of two things – went to 9 conference games (but that gives them a higher probability of no one going undefeated) OR they should have eliminated the permanent cross division games. Unfortunately for the game, they decided to do neither and stuck with an asinine system that protects the status quo.

    I know it would suck for a fans of a few historic rivalries like ‘Bama vs Tenn or Auburn vs Georgia),but most of these games (Ole Miss vs Vandy, Miss State vs Kentucky, So Car vs aTM, for instance) are hot trash. Not worthy of an annual matchup – they were just thrown together so every team could have a cross-divisional rivalry.

    From an outside perspective, it makes absolutely no sense to have teams within the same conference that play one time every 6 or 7 years.

    • Day
      April 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I understand where you’re coming from but the Alabama/Tennessee rivalry is very deep. Yes right now Saban own’s Tennessee but there was a time when Philip Fulmer owned Alabama, this is a weird rivalry. Tennessee will win seven straight then Bama will win eight straight, it used to be known as The Third Saturday in October but due to scheduling issues, they had to cancel that. There is more money that can be drawn in from this game then a Bama vs Vandy or Bama vs Kentucky. Also Florida has not been hot since Meyer left five years ago so it really depends of late how good LSU is.

    • The Doctor
      April 20, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      For Vandy and Ole Miss fans, we like our annual matchup, regardless of whatever the rest of the league seems to care. Ole Miss is Vandy’s 2nd most-played opponent all-time.

  5. Fritze
    April 22, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks Amy, I know we all enjoy a good subjective power ranking to chew on in the offseason.

    One small correction for you – Georgia defeated Alabama 26 to 23 in 2007, but it was in Tuscaloosa and not at home. That was a great overtime game if any of yall are looking for something to listen to at work:


    The last time that Georgia beat an Alabama team at home was in 2003 by a score of 37 to 23 (that game wasn’t quite as good as the one above).

    Go Dawgs!

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