This week the SEC released their 2021 football schedule. After all the uncertainty of last year’s offseason and the anxiety that it gave me not knowing if we would have any college football at all, it’s so refreshing to see a normal schedule on paper. Please make it happen!
Everybody loves a good schedule – there is nothing quite like breaking down Fall matchups in January…. So let’s dive in!
Winner: Missouri Tigers
Missouri is a team that has reason for optimism heading into the 2021 season. They are coming off a respectable 5-5 season in 2020 (all SEC games) under first year head coach Eli Drinkwitz. Freshman QB Connor Bazelak was really impressive at times (29-for-34 for 406 yards and 4 TD vs LSU, 30-for-37 for 318 yards vs Vanderbilt, and 32-for-49 for 380 yards vs Arkansas) and you would expect him to continue to progress now that he has a year of experience under his belt and will have his first normal offseason with Coach Drinkwitz.
I think they caught a couple breaks with the way the schedule breaks down for them. I’m particularly interested in the way they get to play several teams the week following a big game. By my count they catch FIVE opponents in a let-down spot (having a huge game the week before playing Missouri):
• Tennessee: Plays @ Florida the week before
• Texas A&M: Plays Alabama the week before
• Georgia: Plays Florida the week before
• South Carolina: Plays Florida the week before
• Arkansas: Plays @ Alabama the week before
Not only are these games potential mental letdown spots, but also potentially physically about playing such strong opponents the week before.
Another small thing I like about their schedule is that one of their SEC “road” games is not a true road game. Rather than playing Arkansas on Campus in Fayetteville, that game is being played in Little Rock. I think getting that game off campus increases Missouri’s win expectancy in that game slightly.
Early Lean: Missouri Season Win Total Over (haven’t seen a line yet)
Loser: Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas was a bit of a surprise team in Sam Pittman’s first season as the Razborback head coach. After going 2-10 (0-8) in 2019 they started the 2020 season 3-3 with wins over Mississippi State, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Not only that but they also should have beaten Auburn during that stretch as well, but a blown call by the officials cost them that game. They limped to the finish line a little bit though finishing the season with 4 straight losses (2 blowouts against Florida & Alabama and 2 close losses against LSU & Missouri).
As a result of their fast start on 2020 and their eccentric head coach Sam Pittman, I think it’s possible Arkansas might be slightly overhyped heading in to 2021. What stands out to me the most when looking at their 2021 schedule is that they only have two SEC games on campus in Fayetteville. I mentioned in my Missouri write-up that they are playing that game in Little Rock but they are also playing the Texas A&M game in Arlington, TX. These are both technically Arkansas home games. They are doing this by choice, so I don’t feel bad for them but I do think it creates a slight competitive disadvantage for them. They also have a very tough non-conference game against Texas in Week 2.
Early Lean: Arkansas Season Win Total Under (but let’s wait and see where the line is set)
Winner: All of Us on Labor Day Weekend!
For College Football junkies like me, this past Labor Day weekend felt a little sad. None of the Big Conferences had started playing yet (and we didn’t think the Big Ten or Pac 12 was going to play at all) so our biggest games that weekend we’re SMU-Texas St, Memphis-Arkansas St and BYU-Navy. Don’t get me wrong, I watched the heck out of those games but it wasn’t close to the normal excitement level. Just looking at the first column of that schedule grid above has me so excited! What an opening weekend slate: Alabama vs Miami and Georgia vs. Clemson highlighting a full slate of College Football! Please let it happen!
• Missouri Season Win Total OVER
• Arkansas Season Win Total UNDER