RTI contributor Noah Taylor is the author of this article
SEC football is must-see TV.
If you look at just about every “most watched” college football game list from the previous season, a contest involving at least one SEC team is at or near the top.
In 2019, more than 11 million viewers watched Alabama and Auburn’s classic Iron Bowl clash, and 13 million more saw LSU and Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.
Expect more of that in 2020.
The league will once again feature a plethora of titanic match-ups with conference championship and College Football Playoff implications as well as entertaining story lines.
Here are a few that you’ll likely want to tune into this season.
Georgia at Alabama – Sept. 19
If the regular season meeting between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide is anything like the last two times these two teams have played, this one has the potential of being one the best games of the regular season.
Georgia visits Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2007, looking to avenge two heartbreaking losses in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and the 2018 SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
Kirby Smart will have the opportunity to get the proverbial monkey off of his back against his former boss Nick Saban and score a signature win. It could also show that Georgia isn’t just a serious SEC title contender, but a national champion favorite.
For Alabama, it would be an opportunity to establish dominance early in the SEC instead of having to wait until the Texas A&M or LSU games in October to prove themselves against a worthy opponent.
A big home win for the Crimson Tide will also silence the “Saban’s run is over” talk that has persisted over the past two seasons when Alabama failed to win a national championship.
Florida vs Georgia – Oct. 31
This is another game involving the Bulldogs that you presumably won’t want to miss.
The SEC East has been on the line each of the last two seasons down in Jacksonville, and this year’s edition of the Florida-Georgia rivalry should be no different.
The Gators have lost the last three contests to Georgia, with the last two games coming under head coach Dan Mullen. The games haven’t been particularly close, either.
The Bulldogs ran away with it in 2018, 38-17, in a game that was more competitive than the final score indicated. A season ago, the contest finished as a one-score game that never really felt like Georgia was going to lose regardless.
This will be big for both teams, especially if both squads can stroll into TIAA Bank Field undefeated, which might be more possible for Florida than Georgia.
Smart has yet to lose to Mullen and is 3-1 against the Gators during his time at Georgia. Florida has enjoyed back-to-back double-digit win seasons and New Years Six Bowl wins, but there may be some questions if Mullen can’t beat Georgia on his third go-round.
If Georgia’s lone loss coming into the game is at Alabama and the Bulldogs can beat the Gators, they’ll head to Atlanta for the fourth-straight season and have a shot at their second playoff appearance in four seasons.
Tennessee at Oklahoma – Sept. 12
Speaking of opportunities for signature wins, that is what Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols will have if they can beat the Sooners in Norman in Week 2.
Tennessee turned a 1-4 start last season into an 8-5 finish, and with successful recruiting and pieces starting to fit, there is a little bit of hype surrounding the Vols heading into 2020.
Beating Oklahoma on the road won’t be an easy task, and the closer the season gets, Tennessee likely won’t be a popular pick. But the Sooners will be breaking in redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler, and an improved Vols defense will be his first major test of his young career.
Tennessee and Oklahoma will also be one of the bigger non-conference match-ups this season. The two teams will share a Saturday slate with Auburn-North Carolina, Ohio State-Oregon, and LSU-Texas.
A win for the Vols won’t only establish Tennessee as a serious threat in the SEC, but it will help assert the conference’s dominance if LSU and Auburn can also score wins against non-conference foes that day.
Texas at LSU – Sept. 12
Before kick-starting one of the greatest single season runs in college football history that ended with a Heisman Trophy winner and a national championship, LSU had to go on the road and beat Texas first.
They did, in a shootout, and it was one the best games the regular season had to offer in 2019.
The two programs will meet again in 2020, this time at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge with both teams having a lot to prove.
For Texas, the Tom Herman era hasn’t exactly been elite outside of a win over arch rival Oklahoma and a victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in 2018, but beating the defending national champs in Death Valley could go a long way in changing the perception in Austin.
As for the Tigers, a win over the Longhorns in Week 2 could also change perceptions. LSU lost most of their key pieces from their national championship team and are expected to take a step back in 2020.
Beating Texas wouldn’t guarantee a repeat of 2019, but it would show that LSU could once again be a factor in the SEC West race.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss – Nov. 26
Aside from the how last season’s Egg Bowl ended with the Rebels’ Elijah Moore likely costing his team the game after being flagged for an extremely excessive touchdown celebration, the Ole Miss-Mississippi State game has a little more intrigue added to it this season.
Both programs will feature new head coaches in 2020 after the Bulldogs lured Mike Leach away from Washington State and the Rebels brought Lane Kiffin back to the SEC from Florida Atlantic.
Two big-time personalities will meet head-to-head in Oxford, and regardless of the teams’ records that Thanksgiving weekend, there is no doubt that college football fans will want to tune in.
The lead up to the game and the post-game may be more entertaining than the game itself, and that’s saying something.
Mississippi State has won three of the last five contests against Ole Miss, and each of the last two meetings ended either in a brawl or a player hiking his leg up and pretending to pee on the pylon after scoring what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown.
Add names like Kiffin and Leach into the mix, and the 2020 Egg Bowl becomes even weirder.