SEC to play eight-game conference football schedule in 2024

By Kevin Kelley -

The SEC will play an eight-game conference football schedule in 2024, the league announced on Thursday.

The 2024 season will mark the first for the SEC as a 16-team conference when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns join. The league opted to keep the existing eight-game format for now as it “…continues to finalize a long-term strategy as a 16-team conference.”

For the 2024 season, SEC teams will play an eight-game conference schedule with four non-conference opponents. One of those four non-conference opponents is required to be from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or major independent.

The SEC will also eliminate the divisional standings beginning in 2024 and place the top two teams in the standings into the SEC Championship Game. Under the new division-less format, each school will play every other school a minimum of two times in a four-year period.

“We have been engaged in planning for the entry of Oklahoma and Texas into the SEC since the summer of 2021, but the change of the membership date from 2025 to 2024 creates scheduling complexities that can better be managed with a one-year schedule,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.

“Creating a one-year schedule will provide a longer on-ramp to manage football scheduling around existing non-conference commitments of our members,” Sankey said. “It will also provide additional time to understand the impact of an expanded College Football Playoff and engage with our media partners as we determine the appropriate long-term plan for SEC football scheduling.

“During this time of change, our fans will continue to enjoy traditional rivalries and begin to see new matchups presented by the addition of two historically successful football programs to the SEC,” Sankey said.

Each schools opponents for the 2024 season will be announced on Wednesday, June 14 on a special primetime show on the SEC Network. Dates for those games will be announced at a later date.

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Comments (27)

The SEC will consider FCS schools “major independent” because they are majorly independent from the FBS.

That is very true. I still want to know what the SEC means when they say “major independent.” They need to be A LOT MORE SPECIFIC when they say “major independent” because there is only ONE major independent. That is Notre Dame. UConn, UMass, and Army don’t count in my opinion, but maybe they count for the SEC. Who knows?

I believe it means Notre Dame. Any other team would be an exception sort of like the Big Ten when they had their scheduling requirement.

I suspect they are waiting for the fallout of the Pac deal. If Oregon & Washington leave for the Big 10 and Colorado plus whoever leave for the Big 12 the SEC wants to be in the driver’s seat which means the potential of adding more teams from the ACC.

The P5 as a whole should drop to 7 conference games, to make room for more juicy OOC games as well as preserve certain rivalries that would otherwise be lost to realignment like Bedlam. Face it most conference games aren’t very attractive ratings-wise. For the SEC, it would be three protected and four rotating on a six-year schedule.

Arkansas being in the same league with Texas and Texas A&M, yet not playing both of them each year, is silly.

What a joke. Here’s to more cupcakes. I hope all other P5 teams cancel and refuse to play SEC teams forever until they agree to play 9 conference games. Cheaters who need easy cupcake wins against Chattanooga to “go to a bowl game.” Loser.

Booooo! As one of the new members, this is lame AF. I fully understand it may (or may not… I recall both A&M and Mizzou did pretty well in their first 3 seasons after not being great on the Big 12) be quite a learning curve playing SEC teams 8 or 9 times a season… but that was kind of the point of joining! Sure, there will have to be improvement. But I’d rather be improving playing 9 games, including some hype-able annual rivalries in the conference.

I get it. They’re saying “for 2024” and then we get to watch them argue this all again in a year, trying to convince the lower-half members (minus Mizzou, plus Nick Saban) to change their minds. Of course, by that point Texas and OU might be voting members, so that should help…? But the right answer is 9-games. It is now. It will be in 2024. It will be in 2025. And the fact that they wiffed on it this year, and that they could still wimp out about it in 2025… is lame. Boooooo!

Curious to see how long they’ll go with 8 games, and what the schedule rotation will be.
If it’s 1-7-7, that means teams will play eachother once every other year, but only one permanent opponent.
This would mean potentially no annual OU/UT or A&M/UT.
If it’s 2-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6, that means teams will play eachother 6 times over a 13 year span, with two permanent opponents.
If it’s 3-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5, that means teams will play eachother 5 times over a 12 year span, with three permanent opponents.
If they eventually go to 9 games, I would have to imagine that they’ll go to 3-6-6, playing everyone once every other year.

The article said “each school will play every other school a minimum of two times in a four-year period.” which with 16 teams is 1-7-7. SEC boys I hope who you think is your one main rival becomes your one main rival, One one team that said Alabama or Vanderbilt will get their wish.

I hope 8 League games is a very temporary thing and “major indepenent” never includes Liberty and UConn.

Sankey said this is a “a one-year schedule”, so hopefully that means they go to 9 games in 2025.

For the record, the following SEC schools are scheduled to play at least two out of conference Power Five opponents in the years listed:






Ole Miss

South Carolina

Kinda makes all the “the SEC is scared” or comments about padding the schedule with cupcakes look silly. But I get it, it’s not like there is a website that posts future schedules so you can actually educate yourself before spouting off and looking dumb.

Tell me who the tenth Power Five opponent for Ohio State will be in 2024… Or Penn State in 2026? Even playing nine games in a weak conference, those two teams didn’t schedule a tenth Power Five team. THAT’S pathetic.

For the next 4 years when just looking at currently scheduled OOC for both the SEC and Big Ten one finds that both the Big Ten and the SEC will play other Power-5 conference 33% of the time. The difference in character between their respective OOC will be the percentage of Group-of-5 and FCS games played. For the Big Ten the percentage will be 52% for Group-of-5 and 15% for FCS; for the SEC those percentages will be 48% for Group-of-5 and 19% for FCS. That 4% difference in FCS/G5 opponents is what brings ridicule upon SEC OOC scheduling, that, and the fact that most of those FCS games are being played during the second to the last week of the regular season when most fans want to see more challenging and meaningful matchups.

Yeah, the SEC will also get to play Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, etc.

The Big Ten gets to play Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Maryland.

The SEC will get to play teams with more players drafted by the NFL than any other conference.

The talent gap between the SEC and everyone else isn’t even close.

That’s nice, but the issue being discussed is why, moving forward, the SEC is the only Power-5 conference that will be maintaining an 8-game conference schedule? They are doing it because an eight-conference game schedule will incur less losses for the conference and hence increase the chances of more SEC teams in the post season. That’s reason – not the red herring precipitates you’ve presented above.

Not if, as I posted above, each of those teams is playing at least two Power Five teams out of conference.

10 = 10

What about math don’t you understand?

Of the schools you listed in your initial comment only Florida (2½) and Georgia (2) will currently average at or over 2 Power-5 OOC games for the next four years in order to meet your claim of “10=10”. That doubtlessly suggests that is your innumeracy on that is display and not anyone elses.

Alabama will play six Power Five teams out of conference over the next four years.

So, in addition to being terrible at math, you’re not very good at research, either.

I have been discussing the issues here in term of “average.” Playing six OOC P5 schools in four years means that you are “averaging” (6/4=) 1½ OOC P5 schools per season. So, over the next four years Alabama, with its 8 Power-5 conference opponents and another 1½ Power-5 opponents from their OOC schedule, will average…. (wait for it).… (8 + 1½=)… 9½ which is… (wait for it, again) …less than 10.

Alabama will average less than 10 Power-5 opponents per season over the next 4 years.

“Yeah, the SEC will also get to play Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, etc.
The Big Ten gets to play Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers, and Maryland.”

Oh man… look, I went to Texas, I’m a huge Longhorn fan, and I’m excited about the upcoming jump to the SEC. It *is* the conference with the best competition these days and doesn’t show signs of slowing down on that front. But there’s real evidence for that without the SEC homer BS that fans like you try to pull. There’s plenty of legit evidence to use without trying to manufacture stuff like you are in this thread.

First, look at the two lists I just quoted from you. For the Big 10 you avoided mentoring even upper-middle teams like Minnesota, Iowa, UCLA, and Michigan State, much less Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, or USC. For the SEC you picked the blue bloods (even if some of them, my Longhorns included, have had bad years lately, I mean… Tennessee has been subpar for years until last year). You didn’t include some of the other reasonably big names who have fallen off a bit like Auburn or Florida. And you totally avoided mentioning the true comparisons to the Big 10 teams you chose: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Missouri, Arkansas… all of which have had decent seasons from time to time, and all of which are good enough to pull upsets in a lot of seasons, but all of which are usually looked at as a break to get on your schedule in between the Alabamas, Georgias, and LSUs. Even if you compare best teams with best teams and worst teams with worst teams, you can find evidence of why the SEC is tougher. You don’t need to pretend the good Big 10 teams a bad SEC teams don’t exist to make the SEC look better, but it gives other fans ammo for their arguments about biases and how homer-ish SEC fans are.

Same with your arguments about how many Power-5 games are played. For 2023, only 2 teams will play 10 power-5 teams. The ACC has 10 who will, the Pac 12 has 10 who will, the Big 12 has 11 who will, and the Big 10 has 13 who will. And sure, that’s not every season, but it definitely CAN happen if you only play 8 conference games. If you play 9? It won’t happen. (And everyone will get to play 3 traditional, annual rivalries, which is good for fans and the sport… and it makes the season more exciting for people like us who want to watch good football!) And yes, some of the lower SEC teams end up making bowl games only because of the 8-game conference schedule and the avoidance of playing more than one more power 5 team out of conference. You can think the SEC is great AND want to see more good football games. You can admit that, yes, there may be a 6-6 SEC team or 2 that would miss a bowl game if they played more good games, and still think it’s the toughest conference in the country.

Be a fan of good football and say the SEC, which is already amazing, would be even better with the 9-game schedule and 1 less cupcake. It sounds like that is how the upper half of the conference (minus Nick Saban, plus Missouri) view things. It also sounds like that’s what OU and Texas want, so hopefully once they are voting members they’ll be able to help fix this.

Back up your fandom with reality, not homerism!


Like thinking that all Power Five teams are equal?

Playing in the SEC is far and away more difficult than playing in the Big Ten.

That’s the point. The SEC could drop to a seven game conference schedule and still have more difficult schedules that the Big Ten.

You want reality? Look at which league has the most NFL quality talent each year.

It’s not even close.

And let’s talk parity. Over the last fifteen years, five different SEC teams have won a national title.

How far back do you have to go to find five different Big Ten teams who have claimed a national title?

The programs from top to bottom are better in the SEC. That IS reality.

1) It feels like you missed a lot of the point of what I said, including that I very clearly said the SEC has the the strongest conference, and that I’m excited for my team to join it, although…

2) … you seem to have taken my advice and actually based things a little more on facts than trying to compare the bottom half of the Big 10 with the top of the SEC. So… good job? Look at your previous posts. There were some weird SEC flexes when you can just talk about head-to-head matchups or national titles or whatever. And…

3) … who cares if the schedule is tougher than other conferences? I WANT my Longhorns playing exciting games as often as possible. No comparison with other conferences necessary there. UT played one game against a FCS team a couple decades ago and it was boring. UT fans told the AD that. The AD said he wouldn’t schedule anymore. And neither of our next 2 ADs have changed that policy so far. Could it help Texas make sure our record looks good as we adjust to the SEC schedule? Sure. But I’d rather have an extra loss than a boring game. I don’t care how that compares to the Big 10 or any other conference. 9 games would be way more exciting. Plus some non-conference marquee game. I don’t think I’m the only fan who likes exciting games, right? Maybe you really enjoy the blowout game no one else cares about, but I don’t. And yeah, I want annual rivalries with 3 SEC teams. And to play the entire rest of the conference twice every 4 years. That’s all worth the chance that we might actually lose a challenging additional game.

Plus, there’s about to be a 12-team playoff for the national title. If you play that 9-game conference schedule, there will be SEC teams that lose one of those exciting extra conference games that still make the playoff. An extra loss won’t ruin most seasons in a conference this strong.

Of course they stuck with 8 games, gotta fit Chattanooga and Wofford in there somewhere. I would have liked a 9 game conference schedule with 3 protected opponents and visit every stadium in 4 years

The thing is, they can still schedule FCS opponents while having 9 games. The Pac12 has done that for years.