The SEC announced the TV schedule for Week 4 on Saturday, September 24, with nine games on tap, including five conference games as the conference race kicks into a higher gear after three weeks of (mostly) out-of-conference action. For those of you so inclined — and let’s face it, if you’re reading this blog you probably are — you could have 13 straight hours of SEC football in the fourth week of the season.
The Early Shift
12 PM ET/11 AM CT: Georgia at Ole Miss (ESPN), Kent State at Alabama (SEC Network)
Alabama is Alabama, and Kent State lost to North Carolina A&T on Saturday. Yeah, this is basically what used to be the 11 AM JP game, but this game will be an upset if Alabama’s starters are still in the game midway through the third quarter.
If you’re not an Alabama fan, you’ll probably be watching Georgia vs. Ole Miss. Both teams open their conference schedules this weekend, and with Ole Miss hosting Alabama and Georgia traveling to Missouri, it’s possible both will be coming off a loss and looking to avoid an 0-2 start to conference play.
That might not actually be the case, but it will only serve to heighten the drama in what already looks like a good game for two teams that still have a few question marks — can Ole Miss hold a lead against a good team? Was Georgia’s performance against Nicholls a fluke?
The Second Shift
3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT: Florida at Tennessee (CBS); Mississippi State at UMass (ESPN3)
4 PM ET/3 PM CT: Delaware State at Missouri (SEC Network)
4:30 PM ET/3:30 PM CT: Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky (CBS Sports Network)
Let’s face it: Unless you’re a fan of one of the other schools involved in this time slot, you’ll be watching Florida-Tennessee.
It’s actually hard to remember the last time this game wasn’t on CBS on a late September afternoon (and if it wasn’t, that’s because CBS decided to show it in prime time.) And both teams should be 3-0 heading into it — Tennessee hosts Ohio and Florida hosts North Texas this weekend, which both should win easily. Of course, Tennessee would sure like to end that 11-game losing streak to the Gators.
The other games aren’t of much interest, and the Vanderbilt-Western Kentucky game is one you might not actually be able to watch, either because you’re a cord-cutter or your cable package doesn’t include the CBS Sports Network (Note that both the Mississippi State-UMass and Vandy-WKU games are not part of the SEC’s TV contract, hence the weird network assignments, or non-assignment in Mississippi State’s case; that one’s just gonna be on ESPN3).
The Evening Shift
6 PM ET/5 PM CT: LSU at Auburn (ESPN)
7:30 PM ET/6:30 PM CT: South Carolina at Kentucky (SEC Network)
This is a fine offering. LSU-Auburn is the Anxiety Bowl, Part II, and it could get even weirder if either team loses this weekend (LSU hosts Mississippi State, Auburn hosts Texas A&M). Will the loser of this game have a job in December?
If that one gets out of hand, hey, there’s South Carolina-Kentucky... which, well, at least it’s an SEC game. But after making Derek Mason’s life somewhat uncomfortable earlier this month, Will Muschamp could make Mark Stoops’s life really uncomfortable with a win here. And if South Carolina beats East Carolina on Saturday and then wins this game... well, who had the Gamecocks being 3-1 at the end of September?
The Late-Night Snack
9 PM ET/8 PM CT: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (ESPN)
You know, the 8 PM Central time slot is criminally under-utilized by conferences that aren’t the Pac-12. Instead of ceding the late-evening hours to the Pac-12 and Mountain West in Week 4, though, we get the now-annual tradition of Arkansas and Texas A&M going to Cowboys Stadium to rekindle their old Southwest Conference rivalry, and in addition to meaning that you have SEC football to watch until almost midnight (if you live in Central time) this should be a good game to boot. Arkansas should be 3-0 after what ought to be an easy game against Texas State on Saturday, while A&M could be 3-0 as well if they can win in Jordan-Hare. This should be a fun way to end the day.