No one should be all that surprised by the fact that the SEC voted to stick with an eight-game conference schedule over the weekend. And by doing so, that makes it even more likely the ACC votes to continue doing the same. If our own conference were the only holdouts, perhaps they'd reconsider. But given the fact that they'd be one of two leagues maintaining an eight-game slate, it's less of a concern from a perception standpoint. There's also the issue of several prominent programs' SEC/ACC season-ending rivalry games -- which obviously throws a pretty large wrench into a nine-game league schedule that other conferences simply don't have to deal with. And more than anything else, that's probably why the SEC did stay at eight and the ACC will once again follow suit.
But the SEC staying at an eight-game schedule will not mean a continuation of the status quo, either. As mentioned, some teams (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina) already play a major conference foe every single year. And now, the other 10 teams must do so as well. Starting in 2016, all 14 SEC schools must schedule at least one team from a major conference (plus Notre Dame) to correct previous schedule imbalances between teams and also set the league up well for the College Football Playoff.
Now, these don't NEED to be ACC teams. Four of those opponents (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville) are already, and there aren't a ton of other natural rivalries between the two conferences. Though as we've seen before, the ACC seems keen to fill as many of those spots as possible. Syracuse has already signed on for a home-and-home with LSU in 2015 and 2017. But which other SEC schools might Syracuse want to take a look at?
Based on previous history and recruiting possibilities, our top options:
Missouri Tigers (all-time vs. SU: 0-3): The Orange have faced Mizzou three separate times since 1986, and won'em all. You may recall the most recent matchup in 2012 pretty vividly. While we don't really overlap recruiting grounds at all, the Tigers do present an option to face another well-regarded journalism school and create another nonsensical "Prose Bowl" along with the fictional rivalry we already have with Northwestern. Because the last thing any of you want to hear is us Newhouse people talking about Newhouse some more...
Vanderbilt Commodores (all-time vs. SU: 0-2): "Big brother" Tennessee has played against Syracuse more than Vandy, but in this case, we can push that aside. The 'Dores play in a major market (Nashville), are a peer institution for the most part and also look to be trending downward after losing James Franklin to Penn State this past offseason. Playing in the general Kentucky/Tennessee area more often could not only get us more access to those recruits, but perhaps some additional ones in Ohio and Virginia as well. Could be worth a shot.
Auburn Tigers (all-time vs. SU: 1-1-1): Fuck Pat Dye. See? That was easy. It's compelling to want to play Auburn, after all we have beaten them
one two of the three times we played against one another and only lost by three the other time. But at the same time, that program's looking awful good right now, and it's not as if we'll get much out of recruiting down in Alabama anyway. It's under advisement, though certainly not much first choice.
Georgia Bulldogs (all-time vs. SU: 0-1): We have a winning record against UGa? Apparently so, following our 19-18 Peach Bowl victory in 1989. Things have changed since then, obviously, but if DOCTOR Gross wants more games in Georgia (where we are recruiting well right now), why wait around for Tech to get back on the schedule? Not only do the Dawgs give as a chance to come back to Georgia before 2024 or so, but they also don't have a gimmicky, terror-inducing offense.
So who else? Syracuse doesn't have a whole lot of history with SEC schools (haven't played any of them more than three times as of right now), so plenty to choose from. But a lot to consider with each as well, especially as we're trying to finish the job of getting the Orange football program all the way "back." Do we take interesting recruiting trips and fun tailgate scenarios over wins? Weigh in below.