Biggest Non-Conference Games of the 2024 Season

SEC teams will venture outside of the conference to face a number of major programs this season. Here we highlight six non-conference matchups that will help shape the 2024 college football season.
Duke's Mayo Classic - Georgia v Clemson
Duke's Mayo Classic - Georgia v Clemson / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

The 2024 season will be the first with Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC, but a few major non-conference games may well decide who makes the 12-team playoff. Favorites in the conference will have a chance to flex their SEC muscles early on and prove that it really does mean more in the SEC.

Here are the Biggest Non-Conference Games Featuring SEC Teams that will Help Shape the 2024 College Football Season:

Texas A&M vs Notre Dame - Week 1

The Mike Elko era in College Station begins with a bang as one of the most storied programs in college football trots into town with their gold helmets and all. The luck of the Irish will be put to the test in front of a rowdy Texas A&M home crowd eager to turn things around after a sluggish past few seasons.

Notre Dame is coming off a 10-win season and could be ranked as a top-10 team coming into this season, giving this game even more intrigue. It will be interesting to see how the Irish from Indiana handle the tumultuous Texas temperatures, but this game has all the makings for an instant classic.

Florida vs Miami (FL) - Week 1

This game could easily be dubbed the "Hot Seat Bowl", and most people wouldn't have an objection to it. Both Billy Napier from Florida and Mario Cristobal from Miami are in need of a big season, and a Week 1 loss to an in-state rival would certainly raise the temperature on their coaching seat.

Also, this game will be played in Florida in August, so the seats in the stadium will literally be hot. Just another reason we should all be calling this game the "Hot-Seat Bowl".

These teams have a storied history against each other, but this game will not boast the firepower the matchup once did back in the 90's, when both programs were routinely competing for championships.

The programs last faced each other in the opening week of the 2019 season, a four-point victory for the Gators. Miami will likely be the road favorites in this game as they have the more talented roster, but Florida and the home crowd will be fired up and chomping (literally) at the bit to upset the Hurricanes.

Florida upset a ranked Utah squad at home to start the 2022 season, so they know the opportunity is there.

Georgia vs Clemson - Week 1 (Atlanta, GA)

The old, southern rivalry between Georgia and Clemson renews in Week 1 in Atlanta, the first meeting between these powers since 2021.

Georgia's low-scoring victory in that top 5 matchup in Charlotte set the tone for what would be the Dawgs' first of two consecutive national championships. This will be the 66th meeting between the border rivals in a series that has been dominated by the Dawgs and their 43 victories.

This year will be another high-powered meeting between two of the top coaches in the land in Georgia's Kirby Smart and Clemson's Dabo Swinney, respectively. Clemson has taken a small step back as a program since 2021, but they still boast talent across the board and will be looking to make an early statement.

This will feel like an early playoff game with two fiery fanbases playing in a neutral site close to home. The number of Polos and Sperrys in the crowd will only be matched by the passion from the players on the field.

LSU vs Southern Cal - Week 1 (Las Vegas, NV)

How fun of a matchup would this have been last season with Jayden Daniels and Caleb Williams facing off? Even still, this will be a Sunday Funday fittingly held in Sin City.

USC has been terrible on defense under head coach Lincoln Riley, and even though they are now in the historically defense-first Big 10, it is unlikely that will change this season. LSU's new starting QB Garrett Nussmeier has shown flashes in limited action thus far, meaning this could be his break-out game.

There will be a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball, but expect plenty of fireworks and a lights-out show only Las Vegas could handle.

One interesting note is that LSU has lost their previous four season openers dating back to the 2020 season. Starting 2024 off with a loss could damper LSU's hopes at reaching the 12-team playoff.

Texas at Michigan - Week 2

After feasting on delicious cupcakes to start the year, Texas and Michigan will square off in this Week 2 matchup between defending playoff participants. The reigning champion Wolverines are of course breaking in a new coach and replacing a majority of their major contributors from last season, while Texas comes in with more program continuity.

The Big House will be rocking even with the abhorrent and dreaded Noon (11 a.m. local) kickoff, but oily Texas fans travel well in their private jets, so expect to see plenty of burnt orange throughout. These two historic programs have surprisingly only faced off one other time, that being the classic January 2005 Rose Bowl which was single-handedly won by Vince Young.

In this iteration, Texas should again have the advantage as they return a veteran QB in Quinn Ewers and a beefy and talented offensive line. Remember that it was Week 2 last season when Texas went on the road and knocked off Alabama, and that experience should be helpful this time around. But the scrappy and menacing Wolverines won't be so keen on giving up their throne, so expect a physical fight in Ann Arbor.

Alabama at Wisconsin - Week 3

For the second consecutive season, Alabama will play a road non-conference game in Week 3. Is that a coincidence? Maybe. Is it weird? Yea, kind of. Either way, this time they will be doing so sans Nick Saban and against a tougher opponent than in 2023 (no offense South Florida).

This will be the first big game for new coach Kalen DeBoer in his Tide tenure, although he is no stranger to big games as he led Washington to the CFP National Championship game just last season.

Alabama still has a roster loaded with talent led by a veteran QB in Jalen Milroe, so they should be favored in this game. Even though Wisconsin is coming off a disappointing 2023 season, Luke Fickell is a good coach who will have his team ready to play.

The rowdy Badger fans in Madison will be ready to jump around and take a bite out of Big Al, so the Tide will need to be on their A-game. This will be a very important early-season game for Coach DeBoer as he tries to continue the success his predecessor enjoyed.

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