Each week I will provide short capsules and picks for the games involving SEC teams. Here is week one.
South Carolina @ North Carolina State
The opener for all SEC teams pits the always entertaining Steve Spurrier and his band of Gamecocks against the NC State Wolfpack Thursday night. The experts are picking NC State in this one, but if S. Carolina can muster some consistent offense, they should be able to win it. South Carolina 20, NC State 17. The game is televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech
The biggest marquee match-up of the weekend at the neutral site of Atlanta Georgia where Alabama hopes to make it two in a row in season openers against ACC teams. This Va. Tech team isn't Clemson, but they shouldn't be confused with the class of the SEC either. Alabama must replace a chunk of the offense (3 lineman, leading rusher, leading passer) while hoping another year under Nick Saban brings even more ferocity out of what appears to be a great defense. This will not be a pretty game – expect a big dose smash mouth football. In the end, Alabama should win this one, but close. Alabama 13 – Va. Tech 10. The game is televised on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
Georgia at Oklahoma State
The biggest game opener for Oklahoma State in school history arguably and it comes against a Georgia team trying to pick up the broken pieces of last year and move on without two first round picks from its backfield. If Mike Gundy's Cowboys are going to be taken seriously, they have to have this one. Oklahoma State's offense will be too much for the Bulldogs to handle. Oklahoma State 31, Georgia 20. The game is televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Kentucky vs. Miami (Ohio)
The Wildcats are bit of a mystery this year. They have been to three straight bowl games and appear to be more than just sideline entertainment while waiting for basketball season. Miami (OH) has been a solid performer in recent years and will provide a stern test for a season opener. Kentucky should win it, but it will be closer than some will think. Kentucky 23, Miami (OH) 20. The game is televised on ESPNU at 12:00 noon ET.
La. Tech at Auburn
The La. Tech Bulldogs knocked off Mississippi State in last year's opener. Auburn fluttered and sputtered through a season that ended with a complete overall in the coaching staff. La. Tech is no world beater on offense. Auburn is dangerously thin on defense. Auburn should win this game but it will probably be close. Auburn 24, La. Tech 17. This game is televised on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET.
LSU at Washington
Les Miles' Tigers travel a long way from Baton Rouge to open the season against a team that didn't manage a single win in the 2008 campaign. The new coaching staff at UW is talented but they have a long way to go to be able to hang with the loaded teams in the PAC-10, much less a team like LSU. LSU 45, UW 10. This game is televised on ESPN at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Ole Miss at Memphis
Memphis is no slouch, but the Rebels' defense should be more than enough to handle the spread out Tigers. Houston Nutt's team will tune up the band and use the spotlight Sunday game as a chance to prove they are worth all the preseason hype. Ole Miss 27, Memphis 7. This game is televised Sunday on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET.
File these in the barely worth mentioning category
Western Kentucky at Tennessee
A surefire win to start the Kiffin era on Rocky Top. Tennessee 31-WKU 15. The game is televised on ERT/SEC Network 12:00 noon ET.
Jackson State at Miss. State
Jackson State is actually better than Mississippi State right now due to the growing pains the Bulldogs are experiencing in the transition to Dan Mullen's form of the spread. Jackson State also has a kicking band. I usually don't take this lower division over the upper schools, Jackson State has a very good chance in this one. Jackson State 22, Mississippi State 16. This game is televised on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m. ET.