The Southeastern Conference's 2014 football schedule should please LSU, which has been vocal about the need for balancing cross-conference strength of scheduling. LSU takes on Florida next season, but so does division rival Alabama. Here are 10 that should provide some intrigue for any SEC fan. You'll notice a few historic rivalries missing, and not by accident. The criteria here is more about the better plot lines.
Top 10 SEC football attractions, coming to theaters in 13 months; but first, a look at the candidates.
10. Mississippi State at Ole Miss, Nov. 29 -- Where will these programs be in 15 months for this one? The heralded freshman class Hugh Freeze has said will contribute in 2013 for Ole Miss could be a core to the team by 2014. Mississippi State will have to find a new quarterback for that season, but by the Egg Bowl, the guy could have double-digit starts on his resume.
9. Texas A&M at Mississippi State, Oct. 4 -- With or without Johnny Manziel, a win over the Aggies would ring some loud cowbells in Starkville. One of the next steps for the Bulldogs as a program is to begin winning games it is expected to lose. If Manziel is around, this game would certainly be one of those.
8. Tennessee at South Carolina, Nov. 1 -- Players improve most between their freshman and sophomore years, some coaches believe, and as well that programs tend to improve most from year one to year two. A second-year Butch Jones team gets that theory tested on the road.
7. Ole Miss at LSU, Oct. 25 -- Tough to find a better upset opportunity for Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. That certainly doesn't mean Freeze won't achieve one this season, but the 2014 game with LSU will be an Ole Miss measuring stick just the same. Some years, the talent gap is huge in this matchup, and the scoreboard attests. In 2014, that gap could be shortened.
6. Texas A&M at Alabama, Oct. 18 -- Two of the league's top programs meet at the scene of Johnny Manziel's signature play and victory in 2012. Beating Alabama twice at home in a three-year span hasn't been done since LSU in 2005 and 2007. Texas A&M will be challenged to join LSU in that regard.
5. Georgia at South Carolina, Sept. 13 -- In the post-Connor Shaw and post-Aaron Murray eras, these East rivals will clash with new (or fairly new) faces at the helm. Hutson Mason could be the next young gun passer at Georgia, and talk is that he has the arm to fill the shoes. South Carolina's Dylan Thompson comes with high hopes as well, and figures to see more action than Mason this season.
4. LSU at Florida, Oct. 11 -- If some of the young, less-experienced talent being heralded in Gainesville these days delivers on the production end, Les Miles will have his hands full on the road. Look for an old-school, line-of-scrimmage game with yardage tough to come by. Just like last season.
3. Florida vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville), Nov. 1 -- These two programs, as we sit in August of 2013, are peaking at the same time like they haven't in decades. If nothing happens to change before Halloween of next year, this game will have some high drama.
2. Florida at Alabama, Sept. 20 -- Complaints about unbalanced cross-divisional scheduling should quell a bit next year with West king Alabama drawing a game against East power Florida. UA last played UF in the regular season in 2011. But they've been matched in the regular season just five times since 1999. Hard to believe, given it's been the most common SEC title game matchup (seven meetings) of any combination of league teams.
1. Alabama at LSU, Nov. 8 -- The best game in the West is well-established now, and doesn't show any signs of yielding that status. The last several matchups have been decided by legions of active NFL players. As for the fan experience, the electricity of LSU night games remains more palpable for that game than any.