Big changes are coming for Auburn football and the other teams in the SEC following the 2024 football season. With Oklahoma and Texas joining the conference, a new way of scheduling will have to be adopted due to the large number of teams.
There was a lot of debate over whether or not the SEC should have an eight- or nine-conference game schedule, and it was ultimately decided that there would be no changes to the scheduling model in 2024, meaning eight conference games. However, there will need to be a long term solution for the SEC sooner or later.
Last week, in preparation for the addition of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten rolled out its new scheduling model, called “Flex Protect Plus,” in which the conference protected 11 rivalries and gave teams “two-play” opponents that are essentially home-and-home conference opponents that will change every two years. Could this eventually be the direction that the SEC is headed in?
CBS Sports writer David Cobb projected a nine conference game SEC schedule using the “Flex Protect Plus” model, protecting 11 SEC rivalries and throwing in “two-play” opponents to fill out the rest. For Auburn football, Cobb’s projected opponents include Alabama and Georgia as protected rivalries and Mississippi State as the first “two-play” opponent:
"Breakdown: Alabama and Georgia are obvious permanent rivals for Auburn because they are among the most storied rivalries in the conference. However, it’s a brutal draw given how dominant those squads are. To compensate, a Mississippi State program that should be among the most beatable in the conference starts out as Auburn’s two-play partner."
Other protected conference rivalries include Alabama vs. Tennessee, Arkansas vs. LSU, Florida vs. Georgia, Florida vs. LSU, Kentucky vs. South Carolina, Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State, Oklahoma vs. Texas, Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt, and Texas vs. Texas A&M.