Last week I went 10-1 on picks with the only misstep being Tennessee, who was quite impressive in its win over North Carolina State. There are some big conference games this week, while the rest of the teams fill in out of conference opponents before starting their SEC schedule run.
Check out the following link for the SEC football TV schedule.
Georgia @ Missouri
This game features two of the top signal callers in the SEC East in Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Mizzou’s James Franklin. Georgia has a budding star in freshman RB Todd Gurley who blew through Buffalo last weekend. Georgia will need him as well as Murray to be in top form this week as I have a feeling points are going to be flying around in this game.
Missouri is used to being the overmatched underdog after years in the Big 12, and it has countered that by playing wide open on offense, though still balancing run with pass and having a ball-hawking defense that gives up yards but gets turnovers.
Here’s the key to the game: Georgia is a slow starting team and even though it won last week, it was far from season-ready. Missouri will be ready to make a statement, and at home it is good enough, fast enough, and big enough to pull this one out. If this were played later in the season, I’d be more inclined to pick Georgia but not at the first of the year. Missouri comes out and makes a statement.
Missouri 33, Georgia 28
Florida (1-0) @ Texas A&M (0-0)
Texas A&M will start the season this week after last week’s opener vs. La. Tech was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac. Florida rotated quarterbacks early against Bowling Green before settling on Jeff Driskel who led a much more focused power-run attack down the field for second half scores. The Gators defense was also impressive and they’ll need to be in top form against this offense. Florida pulled away late in its game but the team is still young enough to make mistakes, and that’s what Texas A&M has to hope for.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin is known for putting up yards with his system even against good competition but Texas A&M’s transition to this new approach really needed a week of gameplay to get a feel for what it has and what will work. Home field advantage aside, Florida gets the nod here for having had the week to work out the kinks and knowing more about what it has on the field.
Florida 26, Texas A&M 20
Auburn (0-1) @ Mississippi State (1-0)
Mississippi State thumped its opening opponent, so there’s not much to be gained from looking at that for this game. Auburn played with Clemson for three quarters before bad tackling and the inability to be more than vanilla on offense finally caught up with them late in the game.
These games have gone down to the wire for last few years and in each Auburn has found a way to pull out the win. Mississippi State once again has this game circled as a possible jumping off point to finally climbing up the steep ladder of the SEC West.
Mississippi State will rely on its run game because that’s what it does, but I think the passing game will be the difference. The squad has more experience at quarterback and Auburn’s defensive backfield can still be had too many times on third down for me to pick them to win. It will be a close, probably ugly game, but I expect MSU to finally get over the Auburn hump in its schedule. Where it goes from there remains to be seen.
Mississippi State 17, Auburn 13
Washington (1-0) @ LSU (1-0)
LSU picked right up where it left off last season with a dominating defense and an offense built on the run. Washington will be a little more of a test this week but it does not have the depth to hang with a team like LSU for four quarters. LSU can continue to ease their new quarterback into the role as the running game and defense will smother yet another opponent.
LSU 30, Washington 14
Out Of Conference Games
Vanderbilt (0-1) @ Northwestern (1-0)
Vanderbilt lost to South Carolina for one reason: Its offense was atrocious for most of the game. Northwestern had no problem throwing up points against Syracuse and it will present a different challenge for Vandy this week.
Vandy’s defense is good enough to keep Northwestern in check for parts of the game but the offense lacks real identity. That fits and starts approach isn’t good enough to beat a team like Northwestern especially on the road.
Northwestern 27, Vanderbilt 16
UTEP (0-1) @ Ole Miss (1-0)
Ole Miss squeaked by in its opener, while UTEP held serve with Oklahoma most of the game before succumbing to the superior talent in the end. I still think Ole Miss is a team in transition and could get caught looking ahead this week. It won’t, however, because head coach Hugh Freeze knows what it is like to be that sneaky team on “better” teams’ schedules and he’ll have the Rebels prepared enough to get by this in this one.
Ole Miss 28, UTEP 20
East Carolina (1-0) @ South Carolina (1-0)
South Carolina QB Conner Shaw is really beat up after the slug fest with Vanderbilt last week. Good thing the Gamecocks won’t need much from him to get this win. RB Marcus Lattimore looks great coming off a knee injury and I expect he’ll carry the load this week against a pesky, albeit outmatched ECU squad.
South Carolina 30, East Carolina 15
Western Kentucky (1-0) @ Alabama (1-0)
Western Kentucky made great strides last season and it sports a power offense just like Alabama. Problem is, Western Kentucky doesn’t have the defense its opponents do and their approach won’t do much good when it is down double digits early. Alabama tunes up the band and gets a jump start of preparing for Arkansas.
Alabama 44, Western Kentucky 6
Arkansas (1-0) @ Louisiana-Monroe (0-0)
Arkansas messed around a little last week before turning on the jets to blow by an outmatched opponent. This week, expect the Razorbacks to come out fast and hard and get the backups some work as they will need the starters as healthy as possible with the game against Alabama right around the corner.
Arkansas 41, Louisiana-Monroe 20
Georgia State (1-0) @ Tennessee (1-0)
Tennessee was impressive against NC State last week and QB Tyler Bray has emerged as the leader it needs him to be. The Volunteers get another week to tune up and will use this game as a way to get some more guys work before heading into important conference play.
Tennessee 34, Georgia State 17
Kent State (1-0) @ Kentucky (0-1)
Kentucky is a mess but not a big enough mess to lose to Kent State at home. The Wildcats have some talent. Maybe not enough to compete in the SEC but they have enough to win this one. If they lose, expect a coaching change by midseason.
Kentucky 22, Kent State 14