Another football season is upon us and the Southeastern Conference begins the quest for a seventh straight national championship. Texas A&M and Missouri join the fold this year, which should only make the week-to-week fun even more interesting.
Check out the following link for the SEC football TV schedule.
Games of the Week
South Carolina @ Vanderbilt
This Thursday nighter might fly under the radar for passersby. But if you’ve been paying attention you know South Carolina has risen to be one of the top teams in the SEC East in recent years. Vanderbilt under second year coach James Franklin is on a mission to make good on their “we’re not the doormats any more” mantra.
Here’s what we know. SC’s top flight RB Marcus Lattimore plans to play coming off a season shortened by knee injury and that’s a big plus for the Gamecocks. They also have a strong defensive front led by Jadavion Clowney who only playing 60% of the time last year made a huge splash. Vanderbilt’s hopes live and die with the offensive combo of QB Jordan Rodgers and RB Zac Stacy. On defense, Vandy lived and died last year by turnovers, which is not a long term recipe for success.
I’d give the edge to South Carolina but this should still be a really entertaining, close game.
South Carolina 23, Vanderbilt 17
Auburn vs. Clemson (Atlanta, GA)
Both of these teams are missing key members due to suspensions of players. The more intriguing story is Auburn who sports two new coordinators each of which plans to bring a different look to the Tigers. On defense, Auburn is expected to employ more of an attacking style as opposed to the read-and-react (usually late) from the previous regime. Auburn’s defensive ends are really talented but everything around them is mostly unknown. On offense, Auburn is expected to go with a more pro style convention which should help the new starting quarterback.
Clemson’s defense was last seen being ravaged by West Virginia and the “best part” of that defense is gone with graduation and NFL draft picks. The good news for Clemson is they return key playmakers on offense and that’s going to be the difference in the game.
Many have counted Auburn all but blown out in this game but Gene Chizik has proven more than once he can get his troops up when the odds seem against them. In the end, motivation can only carry a team this unproven so far, and the team with the more established identity should take over in the second half and secure the win.
Clemson 38, Auburn 16
Alabama vs. Michigan (Dallas, TX)
Michgan QB Denard Robinson is fast – really fast – almost SEC fast. Almost. The problem for him is his protection is no match for the kind of defensive front as fast, strong, or as deep as what Alabama employs.
Alabama may be replacing a lot of starters from the national title team a year ago. However, many of the “new” players saw significant action in that campaign and Nick Saban and co. have proven to be a good talent factory. Plus, Crimson Tide QB A.J. McCarron proved more than capable of carrying the team late last year and is one of the top signal callers returning to the league this season.
This game will be won along the line of scrimmage and Alabama has distinct advantages at every position on both sides. Expect Michigan to hang around early but wilt under the constant barrage of power and pressure from the Crimson Tide.
Alabama 27, Michigan 13
Kentucky @ Louisville
Kentucky fans are happy to have a basketball national championship to celebrate because the football team is nothing to write home about at all. Louisville are not exactly world beaters but coach Charlie Strong has greatly improved this team in his tenure and they should have more than enough for the cross-state rivals.
Louisville 28, Kentucky 12
Texas A&M @ Louisiana Tech
Texas A&M starts their inaugural SEC campaign with a tough draw out of Conference USA. Louisiana Tech has a number of weapons on offense and a fairly stout defensive unit to go along with it. A&M’s new coach Kevin Sumlin will be looking for new playmakers to emerge after so much of last year’s squad is gone. Sometimes that kind of attrition can hurt and sometimes it can help with a fresh start. The one thing Texas A&M has to its advantage is depth which is something teams like LA Tech crave but rarely achieve. This will probably be closer than many would like it but I expect Texas A&M’s depth to be just enough of a difference.
Texas A&M 34, Louisiana Tech 30
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (Atlanta, GA)
Tennessee is a team desperately seeking some solid ground to build from. Coach Derek Dooley is largely considered to be on the proverbial hot seat this year and needs to get off to a good start to ease those concerns. This is really a game of dueling QBs – Tennessee’s Tyler Bray vs. NC. State’s Mike Glennon – as both emerged as top threats last season. What gives NC State the advantage is DB David Amerson who picked off 13 passes last season. That combined with Tennessee’s transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 on defense and so many unknowns outside of Bray on offense lead me to believe NC State will be too much.
NC State 24, Tennessee 21
The Rest of the Schedule
Central Arkansas @ Ole Miss
Hugh Freeze starts his career at Ole Miss beating a team from the Sun Belt just like he did last season at Arkansas State.
Ole Miss 33, Central Arkansas 22
North Texas @ LSU
LSU could start the third string and may play a bunch of those in the second half of this snoozer.
LSU 30, North Texas 3
Bowling Green @ Florida
Will Muschamp’s Florida Gators need a tune up before starting what could become a long haul of a season.
Florida 26, Bowling Green 10
Buffalo @ Georgia
Georgia hopes to have enough players to not have to play ironman football against the Bulls from northern New York. Even if they did, the Bulldogs will still win going away.
Georgia 34, Buffalo 17
Jacksonville State @ Arkansas
Arkansas gets a few weeks to tune the band and under and interim coach they may very well need it.
Arkansas 38, Jacksonville State 13
Southeastern Louisiana @ Missouri
Missouri starts their inaugural SEC season with a laugher.
Missouri 44, Southeastern Louisiana 15
Jackson State @ Mississippi State
Will this finally be the year Mississippi State lives up to expectations? This game won’t do much to answer that but it gives this team a chance to work out the kinks before SEC play starts.
Mississippi State 26, Jackson State 9