The 3 + 6 model is bubbling to the surface as the most likely path for the SEC once Texas and Oklahoma join the conference.
The idea is basically that of pods rather than divisions. Instead of splitting the conferences into two divisions, each of the SEC programs would play three teams every season with six other conference games on the docket.
I love that idea, so much so that I built a list of three teams each of the P5 programs should play every year, regardless of conference affiliation. We included Houston in the P5 group with the Cougars set to join the Big 12 in 2023.
The opponents: Texas, Arkansas, LSU
Why: Texas and Texas A&M must be in the same pod to renew a century-old rivalry that was stolen from the current generation of football players. The move to the SEC allows the Longhorns and Aggies to put the rivalry back where it belongs (on the football field) rather than solely on social media. The games between the Aggies and Arkansas and LSU have been great since Texas A&M joined the SEC. Arkansas is an old Southwest Conference rival. LSU feels like Texas A&M’s natural third partner in the new-look SEC.
The opponents: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Arkansas
Why: These feel easy. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are no brainers. Arkansas should be, as well. The 2022 College World Series offers us a glimpse of the fun these four provide as rivals. As a person who grew up in a burnt orange household, my grandfather would be so happy to see his Longhorns face these three opponents on a yearly basis. Texas has faced Arkansas 79 times, Texas A&M 92 times, and Oklahoma 117 times. Don’t screw this up, SEC.
The opponents: TCU, BYU, Texas Tech
Why: Baylor versus TCU is one of the best rivalries in Texas. Even the nickname Revivalry is tremendous. Those two programs started playing each other in 1899 with TCU holding the all-time series lead with 57 wins compared to Baylor’s 53. The last decade has offered classics between the two. BYU feels like a budding rivalry in the same vein as TCU. I lovingly nicknamed the 2021 game “The Battle of the Book” and I selfishly hope it sticks. Texas Tech and Baylor first played in 1929 and the hiring of Joey McGuire by the Red Raiders adds another fun layer to the nearly 100-year-old rivalry.
The opponents: Baylor, SMU, Houston
Why: We’ve already discussed why TCU and Baylor must remain a permanent fixture. TCU versus SMU is a similar case with the crosstown rivalry between Fort Worth and Dallas heating back up over the last few years. SMU is on a two-game winning streak over TCU. Add head coach Sonny Dykes’ decision to leave SMU for TCU and the Battle for the Iron Skillet is extra spicy in 2022. Adding Houston in the Big 12 schedule will be fun for DFW versus Houston rivalry we all deserve.
The opponents: TCU, Texas, Oklahoma State
Why: As crazy as it sounds, TCU (Fort Worth) is the closest Big 12 foe to Lubbock at just over 300 miles away. McGuire, entering his first season, is a DFW guy and TCU’s new head coach – Sonny Dykes – went to Texas Tech and his dad was a coaching legend for the Red Raiders. This one should be fun for the next few years. It’d be a shame if Texas Tech lost its rivalry with Texas over the conference realignment. I hope those two programs continue to play because there isn’t a much better atmosphere than Jones Stadium at night with the Longhorns in town. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech feel like obvious rivals in the new-look Big 12.
The opponents: SMU, Tulane, Rice
Why: This one was hard and maybe a few new rivalries pop up with Houston moving to the Big 12, such as TCU in DFW. Keeping SMU on the schedule post AAC allows the Cougars to keep up a Houston vs. Dallas game. Anyone with a background in Houston knows the New Orleans influence on the city, so playing Tulane feels like a fun and natural out-of-conference series. Keeping Rice on the schedule provides the Cougars with a likely win and continues the rivalry with their neighbors.
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