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Top Ten 2019 “Can’t Miss” SEC Games

By Dave Holcomb
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From top to bottom, there isn’t a conference that has more programs with rich traditions and long-standing rivalries.

In college football, it’s hard to top the SEC. From top to bottom, there isn’t a conference that has more programs with rich traditions and long-standing rivalries. An argument can be made that three-quarters or more of the conference’s games are must-watch television for the big SEC fan.

However, our list can’t be that long. We had to narrow it down to 10 contests that can’t be missed this fall. With all the rivalries and potential big showdowns in rare matchups, it was a hard list to compose.

But without further ado, here are the Top 10 “Can’t Miss” games of the 2019 SEC season:

10. Tennessee at Florida, Sept. 21

In the first matchup of this rivalry between Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt last season, this game was an utter disaster for Tennessee. In primetime at home, the Volunteers committed five giveaways and allowed a safety ... in the first half.

That wasn’t how the Volunteers wanted the first SEC game of the Pruitt era to go, but Tennessee did rebound with nice wins against Auburn and Kentucky. Florida won 10 games, but the Gators didn’t necessarily close the gap between them and Georgia, who has won each of the last two SEC East titles.

This September rivalry matchup could determine, though, who has the best chance of dethroning Georgia in the East.

9. Auburn at Florida, Oct. 5

I’m a sucker for rare cross-divisional matchups, and in the SEC, this is one of the most interesting in 2019. Auburn will play in the Swamp for the first time since 2007.

These two SEC schools have only played each other three times since 2003. During that stretch, Auburn and Florida have combined to win three national championships.

Neither is really a national contender, but each fan base is very hopeful they can compete with Alabama and Georgia in each division. The winner of this contest will be much more likely to making that goal a reality.

8. Texas A&M at LSU, Nov. 30

This matchup has become one of the most underrated SEC contests on the final Saturday of the regular season.

With every other program playing an old-school rival, many of which from the ACC, Texas A&M and LSU began facing each other on the last week of the season in 2014. Texas A&M and LSU have also been squaring off every year since 2011.

LSU was on a seven-game winning streak in the series before Texas A&M came back to win in seven overtimes, 74-72, last fall. Sign us up for that again.

7. Florida at LSU, Oct. 12

These cross-divisional rivals will finally begin rotating who plays host in this series again. LSU was home in both 2015 and 2016 after a hurricane rescheduled the 2016 matchup while Florida hosted the rivalry in 2017 and 2018.

In addition to seeking revenge for the loss to Texas A&M, LSU is looking for retribution against Florida, who beat the Tigers, 27-19, at the Swamp last fall. Again, the winner of this matchup will be in a much better position to compete with the favorites, Alabama and Georgia, for the division titles.

6. Texas A&M at Georgia

The Aggies were better than everyone expected in their first season under Jimbo Fisher, winning nine games for the first time since Johnny Manziel was the team’s starter in 2013. Some consider Texas A&M to be the biggest threat to Alabama in the SEC West.

If that’s the case, and Texas A&M upsets Alabama, could this possibly be a SEC Championship Game preview? Maybe.

Even if it isn’t, it could have ramifications beyond even the SEC title since Georgia is eyeing a second playoff appearance in two years. Last year, it was the rotating cross-divisional foe (loss to LSU) that ultimately killed their national championship hopes following a defeat in the SEC Championship Game.

5. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9

Five years ago, this contest would have been No. 1. It’s fallen from that perch, but it remains in the Top 5.

Since 1999, Alabama and LSU have combined to win 13 SEC West crowns and 11 SEC Championships. The success of each program has raised the stakes in this rivalry, which dates back to 1895.

However, it’s mostly been a lopsided rivalry. Alabama holds a 53-25-5 edge and has won eight straight in the series.

4. Mississippi State at Ole Miss

There’s a lot of hatred between schools in the SEC. This rivalry might top them all.

Mississippi State and Ole Miss have faced each other every year since 1944. Dating back to 1915, the Bulldogs and Rebels have squared off each year except in just one season (1943). Ole Miss leads the overall series, 62-45-6, but Mississippi State is 6-4 against its in-state rival since 2009.

Over the last four years, these two Mississippi schools have alternated wins in the series, and in last season’s Mississippi State blowout victory, a fight broke out on the field. This matchup will be must-watch television on Thanksgiving.

3. Alabama at Auburn

This rivalry could be No. 1 on this list every single season. Why? Three words -- The Iron Bowl.

It’s one of the best rivalries in college football, and in each of the last seven seasons, the winner of this game has played in the SEC Championship Game.

Assuming Alabama is again a national contender, and Auburn enters this game with one loss or undefeated, this contest will have national implications too. The Crimson Tide or Tigers have played in nine of the last 10 National Championship Games.

2. Georgia at Florida

This matchup is one of the top three SEC games every season. Maybe I’m also a sucker for rivalry nicknames, and this one has a great one -- “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”

The tradition of playing Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville makes it special as well. This isn’t the usual neutral site game, either, as both teams come very well represented.

In addition to the rivalry intrigue, this one is expected to decide the SEC East this fall.

1. Alabama at Texas A&M

Maybe this is overhyping Texas A&M, but it was very impressive how they won nine games under Fisher in his first season. He left Florida State a bit in shambles, but Fisher appears to have the building blocks in place to make Texas A&M a national contender.

In order to win a championship or even a division title, the Aggies will have to beat Alabama. That’s something Texas A&M hasn’t done since 2012. Alabama has won six straight in the series.

If Texas A&M takes another step forward as a program, this will be one of the most hyped SEC games of the 2019 season.