Week Three of the 2017 college football season sees SEC play start to take over as there are three conference games in the schedule (including the much-hyped matchup between Tennessee and Florida). Arkansas is on a bye week, but the other seven teams in the league are getting their non-con on.
Again, there are a bunch of nothing games such Mercer at Auburn and Samford at Georgia. There are though a number of games that will be important if the SEC is going to get back to being considered the number one conference in the land.
With weeks one and two in the books, here are the three most important games for SEC schools over the third weekend of the 2017 season.
Sat. Sept. 16 – Ole Miss at Cal
This is going to be something a culture clash. The Rebels will embark on the furthest west road trip in program history when they visit Berkeley to take on Cal.
If we are looking at this on paper it shouldn’t be much of a problem for Ole Miss. The Rebels are a dark horse in the SEC West race and they should have far too much for a Pac-12 team that figures to finish near (or at) the bottom of that conference. Any problems then will come with the logistics. Playing in the Pacific Time Zone is never easy for teams and if the Rebels haven’t tightened up their leaky defense from last year then they could struggle.
Losing to good Power 5 teams is a problem, but losing to bad one just shouldn’t happen.
Sat. Sept 16 – Purdue at Missouri
This is not a battle of programs that are expected to fare well in their respective conferences in 2017. It is, however, a chance for a SEC team in Missouri to beat a team that rarely plays anyone from the conference in Purdue.
Missouri slipped from 5-7 in 2015 to 4-8 last season and the team will know that games like this one against the Boilermakers are key to their hopes of turning that slide around and making it back to a bowl game. The Tigers are at home – which is crucial – as the team is trying to get its offense and defense working together in equilibrium for the first time in a couple of years. This one has the feeling of a shootout and it is a shootout the Tigers will need to win for the SEC.
Sat. Sept. 16 – Kansas State at Vanderbilt
It would say a lot if a team that is historically one of the worst in the SEC could beat a team that is projected to finish in the top half of the Big 12. Oklahoma is everyone’s choice to win that conference, but Kansas State is one of four or five teams that are expected to finish anywhere from second to sixth in the 10 team league.
The Wildcats are likely to fall on the back end of that scale, but they are a dangerous squad. Running back Ralph Webb will be important in this one as the Commodores will need to control tempo against a traditional Big 12 offense that likes to fire the ball around.