Tennessee starts conference play with games against Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn, vs. Alabama and vs. South Carolina with a bye between the Georgia and Auburn games. This is a brutal start for Scott Pruitt’s first year team. Tennessee could go 2-3 in those games but Georgia, Auburn and Bama are all ranked in the top 10, so beating the powerhouses will be difficult. The Volunteers will be banged up after that stretch. The rest of the season, while easy could change depending of the health of Tennessee after the brutal start to the conference season.
Rutgers plays Northwestern, at Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and at Michigan State to end the season. The Scarlet Knights do have a BYE after Northwestern but it is still a pretty brutal end of season stretch. Rutgers also has Ohio State, IU, Maryland and Illinois to round out the B1G schedule. The young Scarlet Knights have a tough season ahead of them.
3. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State plays Iowa State, at K-State, Texas, at Baylor, at Oklahoma, vs. West Virginia and at TCU. Iowa State surprised us last year and should do well again this year. K-State, Baylor, TCU and the Battle of Bedlam are always tough games. Texas and West Virginia will be tough and physical games. If Oklahoma State wants to reach the Big 12 Championship, they will have to to win all of the games in that stretch. With all the travel and the physicality, the October/November stretch will be brutal, especially with Mason Rudolph getting drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Lastly, LSU has a tough October/November as well, playing at Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State coming off a bye, Alabama coming off a bye and at Arkansas coming off a bye. Coach O is already on the coaching hot seat. If the Tigers are winless in those 5 games, LSU might as well start a coaching search. At that point the Tigers would have already played Miami (FL) and Auburn. LSU should be able to come into this stretch with a 2-2 record and pick up wins against Mississippi State and Arkansas.