March 08, 2013
Mark Stoops won't exactly get a warm welcome when SEC play starts this fall. Kentucky's first three league games are brutal: home dates against Florida and Alabama sandwich a trip to South Carolina. It's one of the toughest three-game stretches in the country.
But it's not the toughest. There are actually a couple that are more daunting even within the SEC. We're still months away and a lot can happen, but I decided to break down a look at some of the toughest stretches in the SEC. By my count, UK's stretch is the third toughest, based on 2012 records.
We're only looking at three-week stretches here, not three-game stretches. That means that if a team has a bye in the middle of a difficult three-game stretch (like Vanderbilt's Georgia-Texas A&M-Bye week-Florida), it doesn't count.
South Carolina: Opens the season with North Carolina (8/29), at Georgia (9/7), and Vanderbilt (9/14).
Combined 2012 record: 29-10
LSU: at Georgia (9/28), at Mississippi State (10/05), Florida (10/12)
Combined 2012 record: 31-9
Florida: Neutral site vs. Georgia (11/2), Vanderbilt (11/9), South Carolina (11/16).
Combined 2012 record: 32-8
Missouri: at Georgia (10/12), Florida (10/19), South Carolina (10/26)
Combined 2012 record: 34-6
Kentucky: Florida (9/28), at South Carolina (10/5), Alabama (10/12)
Combined 2012 record: 35-5
Mississippi State: at South Carolina (11/2), at Texas A&M (11/9), Alabama (11/16)
Combined 2012 record: 35-5 Shares the same record, but includes two road trips to Kentucky's one.
Arkansas: Texas A&M (9/28), at Florida (10/5), South Carolina (10/12), at Alabama (10/19)
Combined 2012 record: 46-7
It's not a three-game stretch, but it's four games against four of the top 6 teams in the SEC (LSU and Georgia the other two). It concludes with the same three games in Kentucky's brutal stretch, but also includes Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. I can't imagine a tougher four-game stretch in the country.