Another football season is upon us as SEC teams kickoff later this week. For the most part, these games are jokes so I won’t spend a ton of time on many of them and will save words for the two good games and for the weeks to come.
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#5 Boise State vs. #19 Georgia (Atlanta, GA)
These kickoff games in Atlanta have been intriguing over the past few seasons. Georgia (once again) rides into the game with a ton of hype and expectations. However, a rebuilt offensive line and the loss of stud WR A.J. Green to the NFL are reason enough to watch the Bulldogs with a cautious eye. The Boise State Broncos bring their own set of expectations and hype into this one, attempting once more to prove they belong in the hunt for the BCS crown by knocking off a team from a “big boy” conference.
If Georgia wants to win, they have to keep QB Aaron Murray upright and control the clock limiting opportunities for the Broncos and their own ace QB Kellen Moore. The Broncos need to lure Georgia into their game just like they did Virginia Tech last year. Until I see otherwise from a Mark Richt team in a big game, I can’t pick them to win it. Boise State has been here and done this enough and even in Georgia’s back yard, they have more than enough to notch this win.
Boise State 27, Georgia 22
#3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU (Dallas, TX)
LSU rolls into this game without starting QB Jordan Jefferson who was suspended following an arrest last week. Oregon is without DB Cliff Harris who was suspended following his own run-in with the law. These coaches can’t wait until kickoff because for those five hours they’ll be able to keep the players from self-destructing – at least, they hope so. Conventional wisdom says the bigger team (LSU in this case) will win out in the end. After all, we saw that last year in the BCS title game as Oregon fell to Auburn. Oregon, no doubt still soured by that experience, will be out to prove that wisdom fallible by utilizing their speed on both sides of the ball to gain advantages against the Baton Rouge Tigers.
Here’s the real key: if LSU can be consistent with the quarterback play(re: no turnovers), they have the size to wear out Oregon even though they may give up something in the speed department. However, QB play at LSU is anything but consistent. Couple that with all the distractions (yes, Oregon has their own but not nearly as pressing) and the advantage goes to Oregon. Some will call it an upset but that’s not giving the Ducks enough credit. They are as solid a national title contender as exists in college football this season.
Oregon 24, LSU 21
Utah State @ #23 Auburn
The 2010 National Champions will be sporting a new look with over 30 players gone from last year’s team. They’ll use this game against the Utah State Aggies to tune up the band for Mississippi State next week. The Aggies are no pushover but they are also no match for SEC speed – or blistering heat.
Auburn 44, Utah State 20
#20 Mississippi State @ Memphis (Thursday)
MSU gets a tune up before facing Auburn next week.
Mississippi State 33, Memphis 10
Western Kentucky @ Kentucky (Thursday)
Western Kentucky hasn’t had much to brag about on the football field. Everything that Kentucky had to brag about graduated last year. Joker Phillips and company get off to a good start in 2011 with this easy opener.
Kentucky 35, Western Kentucky 16
Kent State @ #2 Alabama
Expectations are high again for Alabama. Too bad there’s zero buzz for this game. The Tide get a test next week. This week’s is open book and virtually optional.
Alabama 38, Kent State 7
Brigham Young @ Ole Miss
Ole Miss is going to have their hands full with the newly independent BYU Cougars. Houston Nutt needs a big win to start the season, lower the flames on the hot seat, and he’s known for pulling out one of those when he needs it most. BYU is probably a better team but I like Ole Miss’ chances at home with Nutt’s aforementioned luck.
Ole Miss 26, BYU 24
East Carolina vs. #12 South Carolina
South Carolina will have to play more than a quarter to dispose of the ECU Pirates but Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey are way too good for this opening opponent.
South Carolina 31, East Carolina 14
Elon @ Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt starts the year off with a win. Too bad it will be only one of a very few.
Vanderbilt 23, Elon 13
Montana @ Tennessee
Montana is a very respectable Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team. While Tennessee is rebuilding they still have more than enough for this.
Tennessee 29, Montana 13
Florida Atlantic @ #22 Florida
It is a ritual sacrifice to begin the Will Muschamp era at Florida while Howard Schnellenberger’s run at Florida Atlantic begins its swan song.
Florida 48, Florida Atlantic 15
Missouri State @ #15 Arkansas
Another ritual sacrifice but without the compelling across the field storyline.
Arkansas 41, Missouri State 6
So there you have some thoughts and picks for week one.