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2024 SEC College Football Schedule - Best Matchups Following Conference Expansion

Steve Sarkisian - College Football Football, Head Coach, Texas

The 2024 college football season will bring a ton of unique matchups. The SEC added two big-time programs this season, and Oklahoma and Texas should fit right in. There has never been a more challenging time to try to win the SEC, even after the retirement of Nick Saban. Georgia and Texas are rolling, while schools like Ole Miss, Missouri, and Tennessee are seemingly rising.

For the first time since 1991, there will be no divisions in the SEC. That said, new rivalries are likely to form, and programs will square off with one another more often. In this article, we'll dive into the top matchups in the first year of the new-look SEC.

The rankings listed below are taken from our Way-Too-Early College Football Power Rankings For 2024. The wait for the 2024 season is going to feel like forever, but let's waste no time looking ahead!

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Notable Non-Conference Games

  • Miami (FL) at Florida - Aug. 31
  • Georgia vs. Clemson (Atlanta) - Aug. 31
  • Notre Dame at Texas A&M - Aug. 31
  • LSU vs. USC (Las Vegas) - Sep. 3
  • Tennessee vs. NC State (Charlotte) - Sep. 7
  • Alabama at Wisconsin - Sep. 14
  • UCLA at LSU - Sep. 21

 

(10) Tennessee at (15) Oklahoma - Sep. 21

This early season matchup between the Vols and Sooners should be a fun offensive contest. Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel won a National Championship with Oklahoma as a quarterback in 2000 and was a Heisman Trophy runner-up. He spent 10 seasons on Bob Stoops' in the mid-2000s and early 2010s, but he was ultimately let go by the program.

Tennessee's Nico Iamaleava and Oklahoma's Jackson Arnold were five-star quarterback prospects in the class of 2023, and they'll get to battle it out on the field in September. Both are top-eight contenders for the 2024 Heisman Trophy. This will be Oklahoma's first conference game in the league, so it'll be a fun way to kick it off.

 

(1) Georgia at (3) Alabama - Sep. 28

Although the Georgia versus Alabama game takes a hit after the departure of Nick Saban, we'll get to see what Kalen DeBoer is made of in his first matchup with Kirby Smart. Alabama has lost a ton of talent in the transfer portal, but when the dust settles, they'll have plenty of firepower led by an elite offensive coach. Getting blown out by Georgia early in DeBoer's coaching tenure would not be a great way to positively ignite the fan base -- especially at home.

Meanwhile, Smart's only two losses since 2020 have been to Saban and the Crimson Tide, so he'll have his players ready to initiate the new guy in town. Both UGA's Carson Beck and UA's Jalen Milroe are back for the 2024 season.

 

(7) Ole Miss at (12) LSU - Oct. 12

Last year's Rebels versus Tigers game included 104 combined points, 1,343 total yards, and a game-winning Ole Miss touchdown with 39 seconds remaining. Although LSU's offense will look far different in 2024 without Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, and Brian Thomas Jr., they will be out for revenge in this mid-October home bout.

Jaxson Dart is heading into his third season as the Rebels' starting signal-caller, while LSU's Garrett Nussmeier will try to replace the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner. LSU has had one of the most talented rosters in the country every season since the Nick Saban era, but Ole Miss picked up a ton of talent in the transfer portal. Get ready for another classic game.

 

(2) Texas vs. (15) Oklahoma (Dallas) - Oct. 12

The Red River Rivalry has been played 119 times, and the 120th edition will be in a new conference. Last season, the Sooners handed Texas its only regular-season loss. Even if Texas is elite and Oklahoma is struggling in 2024, records often go out the window in this grudge match.

Quinn Ewers is expected to be one of the best signal-callers in the nation, so this will be another opportunity for Oklahoma's Jackson Arnold to announce his presence to the college football world. Steve Sarkisian and Brent Venables earn their keep on opposite sides of the ball, so this could be a great matchup for years to come. Both programs are eager to prove they belong in the SEC. The head-to-head bout will be crucial for both squads.

 

(3) Alabama at (10) Tennessee - Oct. 19

After more than a dozen years of Alabama dominance over Tennessee, the Third Saturday of October rivalry is finally interesting again. Tennessee beat the Crimson Tide the last time the teams squared off in Neyland Stadium behind five Jalin Hyatt receiving touchdowns in 2022. In 2023, the Vols held a 20-7 halftime lead on the road, but ultimately lost 34-20.

With Saban out of the picture, Tennessee must capitalize. Both teams will be led by creative, offensive head coaches and highly-touted quarterbacks. Let's see if Josh Heupel can beat Alabama two times in three years. Tennessee has failed to do that since the 2004 and 2006 seasons.

 

(1) Georgia at (2) Texas - Oct. 19

The Bulldogs versus the Longhorns could be the premier heavyweight fight in the SEC this year. This matchup pits the team with the best preseason odds and third-best preseason odds to win the 2024-25 College Football Playoff National Championship against each other. It also features two potential first-round quarterbacks in the 2025 NFL Draft. Quinn Ewers and Carson Beck are the headliners, but both defenses are likely to be elite, too.

Georgia did not win the title last year, which is essentially a lost season in the eyes of Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs' fan base. Meanwhile, Texas suffered a crushing loss to Washington in last year's semifinal round. Both programs know they are prime contenders, and seeding will matter in the new 12-team format.

 

(8) Missouri at (3) Alabama - Oct. 26

Missouri is often forgotten in the SEC mix, but it's important to recognize the incredible season it had last year. Eliah Drinkwitz seems to have something special brewing in Columbia, as last year's losses came to LSU and Georgia. The Tigers gave Georgia all it could handle in Athens, but they ultimately lost by nine points.

Quarterback Brady Cook is back for another year, and so is the potential top-10 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft, Luther Burden III. Alabama has an unpredictable outlook in Kalen DeBoer's first season, so who's to say Missouri can't pull off the upset in Bryant-Denny Stadium?

 

(15) Oklahoma at (7) Ole Miss - Oct. 26

The Rebels vs. Sooners should be another fun offensive bout, as both teams finished in the top 12 nationally in total offense last season. Ole Miss isn't known as having one of the best home-field advantages in the SEC, but it's going to be interesting to watch Oklahoma play any conference foe on the road all season.

Lane Kiffin's squad is a popular sleeper pick to make a run at a national title in 2024, but could Oklahoma actually be the underrated team that could emerge out of nowhere? We shall see.

 

(3) Alabama at (12) LSU - Nov. 9

When the Crimson Tide and Tigers meet, there are usually high stakes. Since 2003, one or both teams have been ranked inside the top five for their annual matchup. This year's game will obviously have a different feel with Saban gone, but LSU has seemingly become the biggest thorn in Alabama's side among SEC opponents.

This matchup has featured Heisman Trophy winners Jayden Daniels, Joe Burrow, DeVonta Smith, Derrick Henry, and Mark Ingram II over the last 15 years. And don't forget about Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, Jaylen Waddle, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Quinnen Williams, Tyrann Mathieu, and many more. This game is always a preview of players we will watch on Sundays in the coming years. That should not change regardless of who is leading either program.

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