As the slow-motion crawl to the beginning of the 2008 season begins, the SEC throws us a morsel with the television schedule as it stands right now.
But if the tedium of reading through a 21-line spreadsheet is just too much this early in the preseason -- never fear! C&F does it for you, with the top five regular-season games below.
C&F is aware that all of these are non-conference match-ups. Two points. First, since non-conference games usually have that something extra and come early in the season, they're more likely to be picked up early. Second, both LSU-Arkansas (Nov. 28, 2:30 p.m., CBS) and Georgia-South Carolina (Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m., CBS) survived late but were cut and deserve a mention.
1. Georgia at Arizona State (Sept. 20, 8:13 p.m., ABC)
The spelling-challenged Dawgs head out West to take on the Sun Devils in what should be an early-season test for both of them. Assuming that South Carolina doesn't burst Georgia's bubble a week early -- don't count on it, Gamecock fans -- both teams should be undefeated. (Arizona State has its first three at home, with hapless victims Northern Arizona, Stanford and UNLV swinging by. Georgia Southern and Central Michigan are Georgia's first two games.) Georgia will look to solidify its championship pedigree, while ASU tries to show that 2007 was no fluke.
2. Auburn at West Virginia (Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m., ESPN)
With Auburn going spread, this could be a fascinating clash. At this point, the Tigers are likely to be in the thick of the race for the SEC West -- if they're not, Lowder will have the plane ready to go -- and the Mountaineers should still be contending for the Big East -- if they're not, they'll just sue Rich Rodriguez again. This is a step up in out-of-conference schedule strength for Auburn, which picked up West Virginia after dropping a home-and-home series with Permian High School. (Buzz Bissinger said canceling the series was evidence Auburn was "dedicated to cruelty.)
3. Arkansas at Texas (Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m., ABC)
The classic rivalry resumes. That's about it. Bobby Petrino's boys should struggle with an offense that involves forward passes by someone not named Darren McFadden, while Texas will start out as a contender for the Big XII, though likely not the favorite. And if the Hogs suffer an ugly defeat, look out -- the Gypsy Coach of the South could be headed to wherever there's an open job.
4. Alabama vs. Clemson (Aug. 30, 8 p.m., ABC)
If there's one thing South Carolina and Alabama fans can agree on, it's this: Tigers suck. And, on Aug. 30, the two will agree on which kind of Tigers suck. Namely, the orange and purple kind. Alabama will be looking to assert itself as an SEC West power in Nick Saban's second (and final?) year. Baby Bowden will be on the hot seat, because he hasn't yet guided Clemson to back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back national titles, in accordance with their magnificent tradition. A win, though, could put the Tiggers in the middle of the NC race; a Tide win would take Saban-mania to unprecedented heights -- whatever that might be.
5. Miami at Florida (Sept. 6, 8 p.m., ESPN)
This is one of those not-every-year rivalries, which makes it a bit more special. Miami will also be a Year 2 school (Randy Shannon the coach), hoping to emerge from a dreadful 2007 and prove that "Da U" will still be relevant in the ACC. Florida fullback quarterback Tim Tebow gets a chance to begin his campaign for re-election to the Unmentionable Trophy. Could be over by halftime, but should be a barnburner if it isn't.