Before we get the SEC haters, let's go ahead and acknowledge the fact that the SEC is the first conference in the history of college football to win six championships in a row. That' right. Six years, six titles. That streak alone puts the SEC in a special place — not even mentionioning the first round draft picks that erupt out of the conference annually.
Starting next month, Texas A&M and Missouri start their journey in the SEC, departing from the Big 12. Both teams under-achieved last year in an inferior conference and many wonder how their style of play will translate to the toughest conference in the country.
Let's take a peak into the future by looking at their schedules and see who's more likely to be demoralized by December due to the conference switch.
We first need to point out that Texas A&M wasn't handed any favors by being selected to be part of the SEC West division — which was arguably the best division in the history of the sport in 2011. Not only do they have to travel to play Alabama and Auburn — the last two national champions — but they also have to play LSU — the 2012 runner-up. And the road doesn't stop there; Florida and Arkansas are on the schedule as well. That comes to a total of five games in conference against opponents who could easily be top 25 — if not top 15 — teams. No to mention they will have to face SMU and Mississippi State on the road, which will be no picnic on either account.
In fact, according to Phil Steele, A&M has the 8th toughest schedule in the nation.
A&M has a lot to prove after a very disappointing 2011 season. They were in the top 10 during the preseason, only to finish with a 7-6 record after multiple second-half collapses during crucial games. Their 2012 squad returns nine starters on offense, but only five on defense. With much of that offense still in tact, they'll still able to run the ball, but switching to a defensive-minded conference won't bode well. The only defensive starter that returns is tackle Eddie Brown Jr.
Now, let's look at Mizzou.
It's obvious from the get-go that while having a tougher schedule than last year's Big 12 lineup, the SEC East still isn't the challenge that A&M faces in the West.
The fact that they play Georgia — the favorite to win the East — and Alabama at home helps their case. South Carolina and Florida are the only other likely top 25 teams they'll face all year. Missouri will also get a little bit of time to ease into their new SEC endeavor by playing their first four games at home.
James Franklin is an absolute stud and could wind up being the best quarterback in the conference; but just like A&M will have problems on defense, so will the Tigers. They only return one starter on the defensive line, and six total on the defensive side altogether.
Notice how Missouri and A&M play each other on the last date of the schedule. It's likely this game could determine who gets to go to a bowl game. However, with their schedule and stud quarterback, I'm counting on Missouri to be more in the mix while the Aggies limp-in towards the end of the year with their heads spinning.
Texas A&M – 6-6 (2-6 SEC)
Missouri – 8-4 (4-4 SEC)
Welcome to the SEC fellas. And good luck — you're gonna need it.
Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.