Team-by-Team Look at the 2021 SEC Football Schedule
Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference released the 2021 football schedule. In a way, it is optimistic to see teams with a full schedule, but we probably should wait until we see how the COVID-19 fight is going before we count the chickens. Still, if the full schedules are played, we have some interesting games – both in and out of conference play.
If the pandemic allows, this could be one of the most entertaining seasons in years.
Here is a team-by-team look at each SEC team’s upcoming 2021 schedule as well as the highlights and lowlights from last year:
Final 2020 record: 12-0
Best win in 2020: all of them
Worst loss in 2020: none of them
2021 most entertaining SEC game: The Tide gets Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa Oct. 2, so that will be a good one with the possibility of matching up two undefeated teams. Other than that, obviously the Iron Bowl Nov. 27.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Alabama opens the year Sept. 4 against Miami in Atlanta, so we get to see Bama’s defenses chase Canes’ quarterback D’Eriq King.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Mercer. The Bears are an FCS team and not that good in that division. But a quick drive from Macon to Tuscaloosa will fund a lot of sports at Mercer.
Final 2020 record: 3-7
Best win in 2020: Beating Mississippi State just after the Bulldogs shocked LSU.
Worst loss in 2020: Losing in the last seconds against Missouri.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: The Battle for the Boot with LSU. We get to find out Nov. 13 which team has rebounded best from last year. A bowl bid could be on the line in this one.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Sept. 11, Texas visits Fayetteville and that should be fun.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Arkansas-Pine Bluff. UAPB is in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and did not even play in 2020. Hey, money talks.
Final 2020 record: 6-5
Best win in 2020: Beating up on a beleaguered LSU. Auburn fans loved that.
Worst loss in 2020: Getting crushed by your arch-rival is never good, but the Tigers were steamrolled by Alabama.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: LSU Oct. 2 in Baton Rouge. Can the LSU brand of Tigers avenge a loss to their fellow Tigers from last season?
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Sept. 18 at Penn State. Nittany Lions’ coach James Franklin must be licking his chops knowing Auburn is not playing his former team, Vanderbilt.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Alabama State. The Hornets will get a nice check and stay on their own campus in Montgomery, about a 30-minute drive to Auburn.
Final 2020 record: 5-5
Best win in 2020: Easily Florida. It revolved around shoes. A Gator throws one to keep the game-winning drive live and the LSU kicker used his shoe to break Florida hearts everywhere.
Worst loss in 2020: Opening with a loss to Mississippi State. LSU proved that if most of your roster from the national championship team from the previous season it gone, it can be back to the drawing board quickly.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Sept. 25 at Mississippi State. The Tigers would like to get a little payback for last year’s embarrassment.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: The season opener at UCLA. At least the Tigers can say they played in the Rose Bowl this season.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: McNeese. Sure, they are a state school located in Lake Charles, but if LSU is going to play a lower-division school from Louisiana, Southern is right there in Baton Rouge.
Final 2020 record: 4-7
Best win in 2020: The season-opening rout of defending national champs, LSU
Worst loss in 2020: The Egg Bowl at Ole Miss. State was in it until a Hail Mary fell incomplete with seconds left.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Of course, it is the Egg Bowl. Round two with Mike Leach vs. Lane Kiffin.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Sept. 11 State plays North Carolina State in a cool SEC-ACC matchup.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule game: Tennessee State. Sure, the Bulldogs need a pushover before playing Ole Miss, but TSU is in Nashville. The only question is which Music City team can the Bulldogs beat worse, Tennessee State or Vanderbilt?
Final 2020 record: 5-5
Best win in 2020: The Egg Bowl. The offense kept clicking and the defense came up with stops and turnovers for a change.
Worst loss in 2020: Pick one. Auburn, Arkansas, LSU. Each could have been won by the Rebels.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Ole Miss visits Alabama and last season, the Rebels scored more points than any other team against Bama. Can the Landshark defense get a few stops to give the offense a chance?
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Liberty. Hugh Freeze comes back to Oxford. Imagine the headlines during that week.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Austin Peay. The Governors are playing a spring schedule in the Ohio Valley Conference. Should APSU make the playoffs and advance, they could be playing until late May. That would give the Govs about eight weeks to heal and report for fall camp.
Final 2020 record: 9-1
Best win in 2020: Florida. The Gators came into Kyle Field with thoughts of the College Football Playoffs. They left College Station wondering what happened.
Worst loss in 2020: The only one, Alabama.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: The game that is on the Aggies’ minds is Bama. But they better be weary of some other teams.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Colorado. A&M head to Boulder for a really cool intersectional game.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Kent State. Well, if you have problems beating Alabama, go after his alma mater. Prairie View might have been a better answer, but then the Saban line could not have been used.
Final 2020 record: 8-4
Best win in 2020: Florida always enjoys beating Georgia in Jacksonville. Not only did the Gators get the win, but it was also one of the most-entertaining game of the season.
Worst loss in 2020: The LSU game had to hurt more than losing to Alabama in the SEC title game and Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Georgia. The Gators do play Alabama, but arguably, the Bulldogs playing Georgia is more important as it is a divisional game.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Florida State. The Gators would have loved a shot at the reeling Seminoles last season, but the conference-only schedule did not allow it. It is not the Egg Bowl nor Iron Bowl, but this one means a lot in the Sunshine State.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Samford. That is Samford, not Stanford. It is a small Baptist school in Birmingham. A cool thing, Samford’s two winningest coaches? Bobby Bowden and Terry Bowden. Again, go after the alma maters.
Final 2020 record: 8-2
Best win in 2020: Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl. For over three quarters, the Bulldogs napped on a really good football team. Then rallied late to earn the win.
Worst loss in 2020: The Florida game had to hurt more than losing to Alabama. The Gators are an arch-rival and it knocked UGA out of a shot at the East title.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Georgia. Once again, Florida. South Carolina might be a not-so-distant second.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Clemson. The former rivals play in the opener in Charlotte. There will be no Trevor Lawrence. Upset, anyone?
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: UAB. Not because the Blazers are pushovers, but Bill Clark’s team is good and might sneak out of Samford Stadium with a win.
Final 2020 record: 5-6
Best win in 2020: Mississippi State. The Wildcats held MSU’s air-raid offense to no points. Zero. The only way the Bulldogs scored was via safety.
Worst loss in 2020: Ole Miss. Losing a game you had in the bag in overtime with a missed extra point is brutal.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Tennessee. With the Vols hiring a coach known for scoring a lot of points, this one could give the scoreboard operator a workout.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Louisville. Look at the schedule, the only choice.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: UL-Monroe. The Warhawks were winless last year and the first game in 2021 for new coach Terry Bowden is an SEC road game.
Final 2020 record: 5-5
Best win in 2020: LSU. The Tigers came into the game nationally ranked but left with a loss. Mizzou held four times at the goal line at the end of the game to win.
Worst loss in 2020: Florida. It was not that long ago Kentucky broke a long-losing streak to the Gators. Well back to the old days.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: South Carolina. These two are evenly matched so should be a good one.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Boston College. Another SEC-ACC game. And a good one.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Southeast Missouri State. At least Mizzou is keeping the money in state.
Final 2020 record: 2-8
Best win in 2020: Out of the two choices, Auburn. On paper, there is no way South Carolina was supposed to hang with the Tigers. The Gamecocks did not hang with Auburn, USC beat them.
Worst loss in 2020: Tennessee. A loss to the 16th ranked Vols started a domino affect and not a good one.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Auburn. Could the Gamecocks do it again?
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Clemson. If there is a time to get to the Tigers, this is it.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Troy and East Carolina. If a team is going to play a group of five team, do not pick two of them that can beat you.
Final 2020 record: 3-7
Best win in 2020: South Carolina. The Vols opened with a four-point win. It was the highlight of the season.
Worst loss in 2020: Arkansas. An 11-point loss to a team with a new coach and transfer quarterback looked like they could be handled. The Hogs could, just not by Tennessee.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: Florida. The Gators are the first SEC team new UT coach Josh Heupel will face.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: Pitt. It could be the Johnny Majors’ Bowl as the former Tennessee All-American coached at both schools.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: South Alabama. The Jaguars did not perform well, and it cost the USA coach his job. New South coach Kane Wommack is not getting a break in the schedule department in his rookie year.
Final 2020 record: 0-9
Best win in 2020: Well, Vandy did not win, but Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in an SEC game.
Worst loss in 2020: Texas A&M. The Commodores opened the game in College Station and gave the No. 10 Aggies all they could handle before falling 17-12.
2021 most entertaining SEC game: South Carolina. Perhaps Vandy can be competitive against the Gamecocks.
2021 most entertaining out-of-conference game: UConn. Now this one, the Commodores can win.
The what-the-heck-are-they-doing-on-the-schedule-game: Stanford. Wow. Vandy has a shot if it is comparing algorithms instead of playing football.
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Athletics)
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.