I saw where ESPN.com’s SEC blog was polling readers about the biggest in-conference “don’t miss” game of the 2011 season.
Last I checked, LSU at Alabama was way ahead of the pack with 48 percent of the vote, followed by Alabama at Auburn (19 percent), Arkansas at Alabama (14 percent), South Carolina at Georgia (10 percent) and Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville (9 percent).
I was a bit surprised that the South Carolina-Georgia game, which many observers figure could be a big factor in deciding the SEC East this year, didn’t draw more votes. Looks like a lot of SEC West fans read that blog.
Anyway, that got me to thinking about which of UGA’s games (including nonconference foes) should be considered this year’s don’t-miss game.
But then a week later the Gamecocks come Between the Hedges, and the winner of that game will be an early favorite in the SEC East.
Of course, the Gators don’t believe that. Asked this week by a booster in Tampa how his team will do in the division, former Dawg Will Muschamp flatly stated, “Yes, sir, we’re gonna win the East.” Florida’s definitely in a rebuilding mode this season, however, so a lot of folks think the Dogs might have a great chance to notch a rare Jacksonville win.
Which raises another question: Does any win over the Gators trump beating the Old Ball Coach in what may be a more important game for Georgia in terms of conference standings?
What about defending national champion Auburn returning to Athens in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry? That’s always a big game, and with the dirty play on the Plains last year having left a lot of bad feeling on the Georgia side, it’s probably even more so this year. But this won’t be the same Tiger team as last year, by a long shot.
And then there’s the annual grudge match with the Yellow Jackets, this year at Grant Field in Atlanta, where the Dogs embarrassed the eventual ACC champions two years ago. Can the in-state rival ever not be considered a don’t miss game?
They’re all don’t-miss games, frankly, but if I have to pick the biggest one of the season, I’m opting for South Carolina in Athens. The loser will have a tough time making it to the championship game in Atlanta.
What do you think is the biggest don’t-miss game? Vote in the poll, sound off in the comments, or do both.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg