The two newest SEC teams showed they were more than capable of being viable members of the conference last week in spite of both losing the conference openers. Here’s a look at that big match-up and the rest of this week’s games.
Florida (2-0) @ Tennessee (2-0)
In land not that long ago this game was the one that set the tone of the SEC East race and it looks like this game could have the same bearing again. Tennessee’s emergence is more of a surprise as most of us pundits had all but written the Volunteers off as a mid-level team before the season started. But they have proven to be quite formidable in opening wins propelled by the rocket arm of QB Tyler Bray who has led a young group of offensive players up and down the field with relative ease. Florida hasn’t looked as crisp on offense but that defense has a steel backbone and coupled with the Gators new focus on a power run game, Florida has been throwing hard body blows to knock out the opposition.
The whole game will come down to who can keep momentum in the second half and that favors Tennessee because the offense has been more consistent over the first two games than Florida’s. That and the home field give the Volunteers the slightest of advantages.
Tennessee 21, Florida 20
Alabama (2-0) @ Arkansas (1-1)
Aside from the sting of a humiliating loss to UL-Monroe, Arkansas’s chief concern this week is the health of quarterback Tyler Wilson who left that game early due to an “above the shoulder” injury which most have relayed as a concussion. Wilson’s arm is excellent but his protection has deteriorated over the last two seasons to laughable proportions. That’s a recipe for disaster against a defense like Alabama’s. The Crimson Tide played bad enough in a 35-0 route last weekend to spur Nick Saban into hypermode in order to prepare his team for this weekend’s bloodletting.
Expect Alabama to come out fast and furious with the pressure on either Wilson or the backup quarterback. Alabama’s AJ McCarron has blossomed into a real passing threat and he will spread the ball evenly amongst the many playmakers at his disposal. It would have been an uphill climb to begin with but injuries and just a lack of leadership on the sidelines doom the Razorbacks to a mere afterthought in this SEC West tussle.