SEC Strength of Schedule: Billy Napier’s Gators in for a Long 2024

    With the 2024 season drawing near, there's no better time to analyze each team's odds of success. Which SEC teams have the toughest strength of schedules?

    There will be 134 FBS teams competing in 2024, with more than a dozen making their debuts in new conferences. The SEC welcomes Texas and Oklahoma, but those two are on opposite ends of the league’s strength of schedule rankings. Who owns the hardest road ahead, and who has the easiest?

    SEC Strength of Schedule Ranked for the 2024 Season

    CFN’s SOS model was crafted with careful consideration, using as many resources as possible ahead of the 2024 season. Using a bevy of metrics such as returning production, roster projections, coaching staffs, incoming talent, and home-field advantage, as well as other factors, the CFN SOS analyzes which teams have the most and least difficult schedules this season.

    CFN’s strength of schedule metric included teams’ transfer portal classes, valued quarterbacks returning to their school, and continuation among the coaching staff into the ranking. These factors all awarded schedule difficulty more heavily based on merit and projection, as opposed to looking back at results from last season, though those results were factored in moderately.

    16) Missouri Tigers | 16.08

    Following two straight 6-7 campaigns, the Tigers blitzed to an 11-2 finish and a Cotton Bowl victory last year. Eli Drinkwitz’s squad enjoys a light early season, with Murray State, Buffalo, Boston College, and Vanderbilt comprising their first four games, all at home.

    With their key offensive playmakers back, an infusion of transfer portal talent, and the easiest schedule in the conference, expect Missouri to have a repeat performance in 2024.

    15) Ole Miss Rebels | 18.71

    One team giving Missouri’s early-season schedule a run for its money is Ole Miss, which faces Furman, Middle Tennessee State, Wake Forest, and Georgia Southern to open the year. LSU, Oklahoma, and Georgia are landmines down the road, but the Rebels at least face the last two at home.

    14) Tennessee Volunteers | 19.08

    Starting the year with Chattanooga and ending it with Vanderbilt is exactly what Tennessee could hope for, but they won’t escape Oklahoma, Alabama, and Georgia. Still, matchups with Kent State and UTEP certainly lower the difficulty level.

    13) Auburn Tigers | 19.50

    Even with a bottom-half-of-the-conference schedule, Auburn may not improve much on Hugh Freeze’s 6-7 debut. Payton Thorne limits the program’s ceiling, and the three-game stretch of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Georgia could force a changing of the guard under center.

    Still, the Tigers’ four out-of-conference games against Alabama A&M, Cal, New Mexico, and UL Monroe should be easy victories, and coming out with wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt is more than doable.

    12) Texas Longhorns | 20.29

    Texas will embark on its inaugural SEC campaign in 2024, and it will do so with a favorable schedule. The Longhorns face Oklahoma and Georgia at home while avoiding Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama. Even their bout with Michigan in Week 2 could be easier than expected if the Wolverins’ question mark at QB becomes a known negative.

    T-10) Texas A&M Aggies | 21.21

    If Conner Weigman returns to his pre-injury form from last season, the Aggies could shock the conference this season. Texas A&M will spar with their toughest opponents at home (Missouri, LSU, and Texas) and steer clear of the top dogs in the SEC: Alabama and Georgia.

    T-10) LSU Tigers | 21.21

    No more Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, or Brian Thomas Jr., no problem? Garrett Nussmeier has patiently waited in the wings for the last two years and comes equipped with one of the strongest arms in the country. Georgia and Texas are nowhere to be seen on his schedule as the QB1 and the Tigers get to play Alabama at home.

    USC lost Caleb Williams, UCLA is undergoing massive coaching staff and roster turnover, and Nicholls and South Alabama shouldn’t provide much resistance. As long as LSU doesn’t completely fall off offensively, it should remain in the race for the SEC title.

    T-8) South Carolina Gamecocks | 22.58

    Old Dominion, Akron, and Wofford lower South Carolina’s strength of schedule, but the Gamecocks play Clemson in Death Valley and must travel to Alabama and Oklahoma.

    MORE: 2024 Top 100 College Football Players

    That said, taking on LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Missouri at home is a plus. If RB Raheim Sanders returns to his 1,000-yard form, and QB LaNorris Sellers lives up to the hype, the Gamecocks could near eight to nine wins after posting a 5-7 record last year.

    T-8) Kentucky Wildcats | 22.58

    Much of Kentucky’s season rests on the shoulders of inexperienced Georgia transfer QB Brock Vandagriff. He’ll face his former squad in Week 3, but he’ll have a chance to right the ship against Ohio in the following contest. Traveling to Ole Miss, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas is less than ideal, but at least the Wildcats miss Alabama, LSU, and Missouri.

    7) Georgia Bulldogs | 23.00

    Kirby Smart and Co. begin and end the year with two out-of-conference games. How the Bulldogs perform against Clemson in Week 1 will set the tone for the rest of the year. Tennessee Tech should allow Georgia to get their reserves some valuable on-field reps, and concluding the season with UMass and Georgia Tech will keep the roster fresh for the College Football Playoff.

    6) Mississippi State Bulldogs | 23.33

    The Jeff Lebby era begins in 2024, and he brought in former Baylor QB Blake Shapen to operate his offense. They’ll have three weeks to iron out the kinks against Eastern Kentucky, Arizona State, and Toledo. However, if the Bulldogs aren’t firing on all cylinders at that point, the wheels could fall off against Florida, Texas, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Arkansas.

    5) Arkansas Razorbacks | 23.71

    Sam Pittman will trot out an entirely new backfield after KJ Jefferson (UCF) and Raheim Sanders (South Carolina) transferred out of the program. Taylen Green and Ja’Quinden Jackson are solid enough replacements, but the Razorbacks face one of the most difficult seven-game runs in the country:

    • at Auburn
    • vs. Texas A&M
    • vs. Tennessee
    • vs. LSU
    • at Mississippi State
    • vs. Ole Miss
    • vs. Texas

    T-3) Vanderbilt Commodores | 23.83

    While New Mexico State transfer QB Diego Pavia was a substantial add for the Commodores, it’s difficult to see how Vanderbilt will win more than a few games in 2024. Outside of Virginia Tech, Alcorn State, Georgia State, and Ball State, they play eight of the SEC’s top teams, including Alabama and Texas at home and Missouri and Tennessee on the road.

    T-3) Alabama Crimson Tide | 23.83

    Welcome to the SEC, Kalen DeBeor. Not only is he filling the shoes of the greatest collegiate football coach ever, but he also faces one of the most difficult schedules in the nation. Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, LSU, and Oklahoma will test the Crimson Tide’s mettle, and bouts with South Carolina and Wisconsin shouldn’t be discounted.

    2) Oklahoma Sooners | 25.54

    After a “soft” opening few weeks (Temple, Houston, and Tulane), the Sooners won’t have a reprieve until they face Maine in October. Even if they survive clashes with Tennessee, Auburn, Texas, South Carolina, and Ole Miss during that span, they end the season against Missouri, Alabama, and LSU. That’s not great with Jackson Arnold making his debut as the full-time starter.

    1) Florida Gators | 27.42

    Not only do the Gators have to host Miami (FL), Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss, but they also have to travel to Mississippi State, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida State.

    KEEP READING: Top 10 Easiest College Football Schedules in 2024

    It’s a brutal schedule, and even though Florida has SEC-level talent of their own, it’s difficult to see a path toward more than the five and six wins they’ve posted the last two years under Billy Napier.

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