Pat Dooley’s Friday Fivesome July 23rd

The Friday Fivesome comes at you before I wing my way to the West Coast for a short vacation. I need one quick recharging before we get to football season.

1. There has been so much talk about what may or may not happen down the road such as the 12-team playoff and the inclusion of Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC. We’ll have plenty of time for that, so let’s keep the focus on the 2021 season. This is something I used to do for the Gainesville Sun and something they used to do in the NFL before they went to 17 games – cutting the season into blocks of four. I know a lot of coaches did that in the league we call “The King”, but in college you have to keep kids focused on the next game. Doesn’t stop me. So, here we go with the most difficult and least difficult in the SEC.

2. The first four games for every team are littered with less than desirable opponents and we know that college football is moving away from those kinds of games. Everyone seems to have one tough one early.

The most difficult:
Alabama: I’m not sure if Miami presents a legitimate chance for Alabama to finally lose an opening game. But the Hurricanes ate dangerous and certainly so is Florida in the Swamp. Nobody else plays two games like that in the first third.

The least difficult:
Texas A&M: The Aggies do play Colorado in Denver but that team was humiliated in the Alamo Bowl by Texas and loses a lot. A&M starts conference play during this third, but it’s against Arkansas. The other two games are against Kent State and New Mexico.

3. This is where it gets meaty because almost all of the games are in the SEC and as we have had pounded into our heads this week it is the best conference.

The most difficult:
Florida: This is the part of the schedule that makes you nervous. At Kentucky (where Florida always seems to almost lose), Vanderbilt, at LSU and Georgia in Jacksonville. We’ll know what kind of team Dan Mullen had produced by the time this third is over.

The least difficult:
South Carolina: Although this third finishes with Texas A&M, it starts this way – Troy, Tennessee, Vandy. That’s a good way to get closer to bowl eligibility for Shane Beamer.

4. Finishing it up is impossible to predict because we don’t know why the quarterbacks will even be by this point. But it certainly gets interesting in the bottom third.

The most difficult:
Auburn: Yikes, Bryan Harsin had better hope he has already stockpiled some wins. He has to go to College Station to play A&M, then take on Mississippi State, then go to South Carolina and finally play Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Good luck.

The least difficult:
Florida: Hey, we all know the winter trip to Missouri won’t be easy, but the Gators also have South Carolina, Samford and FSU to close the season. Unless Mike Norvell works miracles in his second year in Tallahassee, this is the way you want to finish.

5. Finally, we give you the best opener and closer and the worst as we get ready for this football season.

Best opener: Georgia-Clemson. No doubter. I’m even thinking about rooting for Georgia because I have Dabo Fatigue.

Worst opener: Eastern Illinois at South Carolina. The Panthers were 1-5 last year and gave up at least 40 in three of those losses.

Best closer: It might be the Iron Bowl, but I’m betting it will be Texas A&M at LSU. Should be a crazy game with all kinds of possible implications.

Worst closer: Vanderbilt at Tennessee. Not sure I’d watch it if they were playing in my backyard.

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