Spring games may just be wrapping up, but our eyes are already on next fall when the SEC will kick off some of the country’s most highly-anticipated matchups.
At Rent Like A Champion, we help fans find college football vacation rentals for their gameday trips – giving them huge homes walking distance to the stadium for their team’s biggest games.
Here are the games we can’t WAIT for fans to see this season…
#5: Mississippi State at Ole Miss (November 22, 2018 in Oxford, MS)
Last year, this rivalry game gave us one of the biggest surprises of the conference season when interim head coach Matt Luke led a rebuilding Ole Miss team to an upset win on the road against Mississippi State.
This year, the tables are somewhat turned – as it will be Mississippi State and its new head coach, Joe Moorhead, that will head into Vaught-Hemingway behind Nick Fitzgerald, whose presence was sorely missed following his season-ending injury in the first half of last year’s classic.
But JUCO standout Jordan Ta’amu will look to build on his 2017 campaign when the Bulldogs come to town. And for a team without the opportunity for a bowl game birth this season… you can bet the chance to once again play spoiler for their in-state rivals – and give their coach his second straight Egg Bowl win – will be motivation enough.
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#4: LSU vs. Miami (September 2, 2018 in Dallas, TX)
It’s no secret that LSU has work to do this off-season – after all, replacing 12 significant starters in the course of one off-season will fill up your to-do list in a hurry.
But it’s for just this reason that this early season matchup against ACC power (and possessor of the fabled “Turnover Chain”) Miami presents such an interesting opportunity to see what Ed Orgeron’s squad will have for us in 2018.
Running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Nick Brossette will attempt to replace heralded duo Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams – and could have a surprise breakout performance against a defensive line replacing key personnel at the tackle positions.
Meanwhile, the winner of LSU’s three-way battle at QB (Myles Brennan, Lowell Narcisse, Justin McMillan) will have his hands full against a secondary that returns many of the top contributors that made the “Turnover Chain” a national icon in 2017.
#3: South Carolina at Clemson (November 24, 2018 in Clemson, SC)
Speaking of some highly anticipated SEC/ACC action, let’s talk about the 2018 Palmetto Bowl.
Strange things can happen during rivalry games, and with one of the SEC’s best QBs in Jake Bentley under center for South Carolina… don’t just chalk this one up as an “L” for the Gamecocks, who look like a team poised to take the next step this season.
Bentley will be joined by a more seasoned offensive line that is likely to improve in 2018 – which could lead to a more balanced attack behind running backs AJ Turner, Ty’Son Williams, and Rico Dowdle, all of whom will look to make strides in their junior campaigns.
Meanwhile, the defense has a few question marks, but they return four of their key players in D.J. Wonnum, T.J. Brunson, Rashad Fenton, and Jamyest Williams, which could lay the groundwork for some emerging stars that fill the gaps for the defense.
Will Clemson once again be amongst the best teams in college football? Of course. But for SEC upstart South Carolina, there’s plenty to be excited for this season… and it could culminate in a surprise turning of the tides in the Palmetto Bowl.
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#2: Auburn at Alabama (November 24, 2018 in Tuscaloosa, AL)
The Iron Bowl will no doubt find its way onto the list of “most anticipated SEC games” in any given season… but there’s a little extra subtext this season.
Auburn’s surprise run in November last year culminated in the Tigers handing their in-state rivals their only loss of 2017 – but, of course, a subsequent Auburn loss in the SEC Championship Game and an at-large College Football Playoff birth by Alabama flipped the script and gave the Crimson Tide the last laugh.
It’s easy to imagine, then, that both of these squads will come into this storied rivalry game with a little added incentive.
But beyond the storylines, these are two teams that both have their sights set on college football’s grandest prize.
Both the Tigers (9th in Athlon pre-season poll, 5th in S&P+) and the Crimson Tide (1st in Athlon, 2nd in S&P+) will have among the most complete squads in the country, meaning that the Iron Bowl could once again serve as a de facto play-in game for the SEC Championship game… and beyond.
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#1: Auburn at Georgia (November 10, 2018 in Athens, GA)
Bring on the grudge match.
To say that Georgia and Auburn “split their season series” wouldn’t do it justice. These two teams played in two of college football’s most significant games over the course of just three weeks – with Auburn winning one blowout at Jordan-Hare, and Georgia winning another in Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.
And as was the case when they met last fall, come next season Georgia and Auburn will be virtually mirror images of one another: two teams that will be replacing major contributors in the rushing and defensive attacks, but that will lean on young QBs who over-performed in 2017.
Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Georgia’s Jake Fromm are on their way to being two of the top quarterbacks in the country, let alone the SEC… but this year they’ll no longer be “young overachievers” – they’ll be going against one another as the primary offensive options for two elite college football teams, in one of November’s most anticipated games.
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