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Top SEC Non-Conference Games

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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A look at the top ten new out of conference games for the SEC this season.

Note: list does not include traditional November rivalry games. 

1. Georgia vs Clemson, September 4th (Charlotte)
Simply put, this is as good as it gets. Charlotte's non-conference showcase is the college football standard and awaits as the regular season game of the year. A certain top five pairing, the winner here emerges as one of the obvious national favorites, perhaps the favorite. Quarterbacks J.T. Daniels and D.J. Uiagalelei will both face elite defensive competition. The entire nation will be watching. What a way to start the year.    

2. Alabama vs Miami, September 4th (Atlanta)
Two iconic brands will be on display as the Crimson Tide and Hurricanes have combined for 14 national championships over the last 45 years alone. The soon-to-be top-ranked defending national champions have to replace some superstar power, though that is no new challenge. If he is fully healthy, the Alabama defense will have to be ready for Miami quarterback D'Eriq King, one of the best in the game. 

3. Auburn at Penn State, September 18th
A national spotlight awaits new head coach Bryan Harsin before the Tigers even step into SEC play, where consecutive opening games against LSU and Georgia will later formally welcome the former Boise State head coach into his new league. The Nittany Lions will be a pre-season top 15-20 road opponent for Auburn in September. Notably, Penn State won four straight contests to finish last season. 

4. Ole Miss vs Liberty, November 6th
The storylines will be many for Hugh Freeze's return to Oxford. This could be a really good football game, too. Freeze's Flames dropped just one contest in 2020, losing on a last-second blocked field goal attempt in a one-point defeat at NC State. They will be a preseason top 25 team. Matt Corral and Malik Willis, a former Auburn-transfer for Liberty, are two of the best quarterbacks in all of college football.  

5. Arkansas vs Texas, September 11th
An old Southwest Conference rivalry, this will be a throwback clash between two long-time rivals. The former foes last played in the regular season in 2008 and last met in Fayetteville in 2004. In addition to this being a major opportunity for Sam Pittman's Razorbacks, this will also be the first road and Power Five game for former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian with the Longhorns. 

6. Texas A&M vs Colorado, September 11th (Denver)
Expectations are high for Jimbo Fisher's Aggies, who return plenty of talent after being the first team out of the College Football Playoff a year ago. Reigning Pac-12 Coach of the Year Karl Dorrell will have the Buffaloes ready to go. Rescheduled from a year ago, Empower FIeld at Mile High, home of the Broncos, will be the venue for this meeting. The last contest between the two was a dramatic 35-34 win for Colorado in 2009.  

7. LSU at UCLA, September 4th
This will be an true road challenge for the 2019 national champions, who are clearly looking for a return to form. Though Chip Kelly's Bruins went just 3-4 last season, all of their losses were by one score. Before taking over the Tigers, Ed Orgeron was obviously quite familiar with UCLA as he coached at rival Southern Cal from 1998-2004 and 2010-2013, where he was briefly the Trojans' interim head coach.  

8. Tennessee vs Pittsburgh, September 11th
A matchup of history with two traditional powers will be both a tough early test and a chance at some early momentum for the Volunteers. As Josh Huepel looks to jumpstart the offense for Tennessee, his first Power Five challenge will be a Panthers defense that has ranked first and second in college football in sacks the past two years. In two all-time meetings with Pittsburgh, the 'Vols have scored only nine total points.

9. Ole Miss vs Louisville, September 6th (Atlanta)
Monday Night Football, college style. In year two under Lane Kiffin, the expectation is that the Rebels, led by quarterback Matt Corral, are ready to emerge as a national name. This stand-alone SEC-ACC showcase in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the very first step. The quarterback matchup, featuring Corral and Micale Cunningham for the Cardinals, will be an excellent one.   

10. Missouri at Boston College, September 25th
Keep an eye on this one. In their first seasons with the Tigers and Eagles, respectively, Eli Drinkwitz and Jeff Hafley both exceeded expectations. Boston College lost only twice at home a year ago, to 12th ranked North Carolina by four points and to 2nd ranked Notre Dame. There is a good chance this game features two undefeated teams at the end of college football's first month, meaning top 25 implications could be at play.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports