Following Week 3 of the 2017 college football season we see conference play begin in earnest and the chances for marquee non-conference wins are much more sporadic until we hit those rivalry games in the last couple of weeks of the season.
Many of the remaining non-con games are of the cupcake type. That is why we see games such as Idaho at Missouri (Week 8), Coastal Carolina at Arkansas (Week 10), and Mercer at Alabama (Week 12) on the schedule. These all feature SEC teams taking on a school that they should beat by five touchdowns at least.
With that being said there are still some games out there that the SEC need’s its schools to win. Here are three more matchups that fit that bill.
Sat. Sept. 23 (Week 4) – Syracuse at LSU
These two last matched up in 2015 and LSU picked up a 34-24 victory on the back of Leonard Fournette rushing for a then career high 244 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
This year the result will be the same, but if LSU is to be taken seriously as a contender in the SEC West then the margin of victory should be far greater. Syracuse has fallen away quickly and in 2016 the Orange finished 4-8 under first-year head coach Dino Babers. Syracuse is picked to finish sixth in the seven team Atlantic Division of the ACC, partly because their road slate (games at LSU, Louisville, Miami, and Florida State) is amongst the most brutal in the country.
Sat. Nov. 25 (Week 13) – Florida State at Florida
It is easy to see a scenario where this is the most important matchup between the Seminoles and the Gators in years.
Florida State takes on Alabama on the opening weekend in a game between two schools that are predicted to win their conferences. If the Seminoles lose to the Crimson Tide, then they will go into this one knowing that two losses to SEC teams in 2017 could kill their College Football Playoff hopes.
The SEC East is in need of a team to emerge to really challenge the SEC West winner in the SEC Title game and many think that Florida is finally in a position to make that happen. A win here for the Gators would be huge both for the SEC and the school itself.
Sat. Nov. 25 (Week 13) – Clemson at South Carolina
Clemson is another ACC power that faces two SEC schools this season as they have added a game with Auburn in Week 2 to their traditional battle with South Carolina to close out the season. No one seems quite sure what to expect out of the Tigers in 2017, but you bet that the reigning National Champions will not want to relinquish their title without a fight.
South Carolina is another team that seems in flux as we head towards fall camp. The Gamecocks seem to have a lot of the pieces in place to be a force in the SEC East, but their offensive production has to get better than it was in 2016 if they are to have any chance of being competitive in this game. If they can, and if the SEC can claim a couple of wins over Clemson, then it will be a great look for the league.