Thursday, May 25, 2017

SEC/Big 12 Challenge Field Announced

The match-ups for the 5th annual 2018 SEC/Big 12 Challenge have been announced. Alabama will host the Oklahoma Sooners. The games will take place on Saturday, January 27, and will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. It will be Alabama's first appearance in the event since the 13-14 season, which was the first season the event took place. Oklahoma holds a 5-2 advantage in the series history between the two schools. The Big 12 holds an overall advantage of 25-15 in the challenge.

For Alabama, this is another good home game to add to the non-conference schedule. The Sooners finished a dismal 11-20 a year ago, but Lon Kruger is a top 20 coach and I expect the Sooners to be a much better team in 17-18. If Alabama is off to a great start, this should be an easy sellout in late January.

The other match-ups:

Texas A&M at Kansas
Kentucky at West Virginia
Baylor at Florida
TCU at Vanderbilt
Oklahoma State at Arkansas
Ole Miss at Texas
Tennessee at Iowa State
Georgia at Kansas State
Texas Tech at South Carolina

The logic used in pairing the match-ups seems dubious. West Virginia and Vanderbilt receive a home game for the second straight season, while Baylor has to travel for the second straight season. Also, there should never be a rematch in these types of events (okay, I'll forgive consecutive Kentucky/Kansas matchups), but that's what we get with Arkansas/Oklahoma State. Also conspicuous is the absence of Missouri and Mississippi State. This will be the third straight season Missouri has been left out, and the fourth for Mississippi State. In recent years that wouldn't be a bad thing for the league, but Missouri could be one of the more improved teams in the league next season thanks to a top 10 recruiting class, while Mississippi State is expected to be better in Ben Howland's third season.

That said, the match-ups look really fun on paper. Morgantown should be lit when the Cats come to town; Baylor at Florida is a really meaty game; and if A&M has the type of bounce-back season I expect, that should be a great game in Lawrence. The SEC is as deep as it's been in a decade, if not longer. If they're going to win this event outright for the first time in five tries, this is the year.

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