Earlier this week we posted a note to SEC athletic directors asking them to schedule some of the biggest schools from the Power Five conferences that we Down South don't often get to see. Meaning the Ohio States, Texases, and Southern Cals of the world. After all, the SEC is mandating that each SEC school go forth and schedule one Power Five team per season in the future. Why not make it an attractive game?
Now, due to the fact that we're now a FanVsFan site and switch-overs of content and servers always result in a couple of days of glitches -- we apologize for the mess in the transition -- I can't link you back to that Monday story at the moment. If I could, you would immediately see that NC State was not on our list of "wow" Power Five opponents. NC State, however, has just inked a deal with an SEC program.
Mississippi State and the Wolfpack will trade home dates in 2020 and 2021. The programs are certainly of comparable strengths. Neither school has much to boast about in the championships departments, but both often appear in bowl games. For that reason, such a pairing makes sense.
Of NCSU, Bulldogs AD Scott Stricklin said: "They're a quality program. They've probably had some inconsistencies like us from time to time but the last time we played them was in a bowl game." Yes, back in the 1995 Peach Bowl. And that's a rousing endorsement of NC State's football potency.
We, you, and most everyone else in the sports world expects to see SEC schools schedule like programs as part of their Power Five scheduling requirement. Expect Missouri to line up schools like Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. Kentucky will likely move straight toward Indiana. Vanderbilt will probably have Northwestern, Duke and Wake Forest on the brain.
Meanwhile, the big boys will continue to schedule to their weight class as well. Alabama has faced Virginia Tech, Michigan, Penn State and Clemson in recent seasons. This year the Tide will open against West Virginia. LSU might wine about playing Florida inside the conference, but their out-of-conference schedule has featured Power Five squads from Washington, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon, TCU and, this year, Wisconsin.
What we don't expect to see -- though we'd like to -- are some SEC squads trying to punch above their current weight. Tennessee, for example, is paying the price for scheduling big programs years in advance, back when the Vols themselves were a consistent winner. Road trips to Oregon and Oklahoma in back-to-back years can't be a fun inheritance for Butch Jones and crew, but Vol fans are at least getting to see different teams and different settings.
Mississippi State took on a neutral site season opener with Oklahoma State. They fell 21-3, but that loss didn't cost Dan Mullen's team a bowl game. If anything, it earned the Dogs a bit more respect -- at least from us. Better to at least take on one bully per year than to line up for pushovers. State's non-conference foes this year are Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, and UT-Martin. At least NC State is a step up from that mess.