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SEC sticks with 6-1-1 schedule, will require non-conference games vs. 'Power 5' schools

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Not much changes for Auburn, but the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry is officially saved.

Lauren Barnard/Auburn University photo

The SEC on Sunday announced its format for future football scheduling, sticking with the 6-1-1 plan. Conference schools will face six divisional opponents, one rotating cross-divisional opponent and one permanent cross-divisional opponent. That means Auburn and Georgia will continue to play the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry on an annual basis.

After playing both Alabama and Georgia at home in 2013, Auburn will face the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs on the road in 2014. That rotation will continue, according to al.com's Brandon Marcello.

In addition to the eight-game conference schedule, SEC schools will be required to play once game per year against an opponent from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12. Auburn already has games on the docket against Kansas State in 2014 and Louisville in 2015.

"This has been a thoughtful and deliberative process that has resulted in maintaining the current format and adds a provision that will bolster our collective annual non-conference schedule," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a press release. "Critical to maintaining this format is the non-conference opponent factor which gives us the added strength-of-schedule we were seeking while allowing continued scheduling flexibility for institutional preferences, and acknowledges that many of our institutions already play these opponents.

"The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games. Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume' of opponents each and every year."

The permanent cross-divisional rivalries are pretty much a continuation of what we've seen since divisional play began.

West East
Auburn Georgia
Alabama Tennessee
Arkansas Missouri
LSU Florida
Ole Miss Vanderbilt
Mississippi State Kentucky
Texas A&M South Carolina

There had been some talk of eliminating the permanent cross-divisional games, which would have brought an end to the conference's two most historical rivalries: Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee. But, the SEC powers that be wised up.

"Tradition matters in the SEC, and there is no denying that tradition was a significant factor in this decision because it protects several long-standing cross-division conference rivalries," said Slive. "It has been a hallmark of the SEC over our history to be able to make continued progress while also maintaining traditions important to our institutions."