By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 1 Review
Bo Nix could not have asked for a more memorable start to his collegiate football career. With Auburn trailing 21-20 with no timeouts and only 16 seconds remaining, the true freshman quarterback hurled a 26-yard strike to Seth Williams for the game-winning touchdown to propel the Tigers to a 27-21 comeback victory over Oregon. Auburn trailed the entire game, and the Ducks built a 21-6 lead in the third quarter. But the Auburn defense started forcing stops, and Gus Malzahn’s offense got into a rhythm led by Nix and running back JaTarvious Whitlow. Nix threw for 177 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions – both in the first half – and rushed for 42 yards in his debut. Auburn hosts Tulane on Saturday (Sept. 7) in the Tigers’ home opener.
Alabama Week 1 Review
After one quarter, Alabama and Duke were tied 0-0. That didn’t last long. The Crimson Tide led 14-3 at the half and exploded for 21 points in the third quarter before leaving Atlanta with a 42-3 win over the Blue Devils. Tua Tagovailoa looked crisp in the passing game, as he completed 26 of 31 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Jerry Jeudy picked up where he left off last season with 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. Jaylen Wad-dle caught five passes for 90 yards. UA only gained 145 yards on 42 carries on the ground, but the running game was not a necessity and likely won’t be until October. Alabama welcomes New Mexico State to Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Tide’s home opener this Saturday.
SEC football standings
1. Georgia (1-0, 1-0)
2. Alabama (1-0)
3. LSU (1-0)
4. Texas A&M (1-0)
5. Auburn (1-0)
6. Mississippi State (1-0)
7. Florida (1-0)
8. Kentucky (1-0)
9. South Carolina (0-1)
10. Missouri (0-1)
11. Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1)
12. Ole Miss (0-1)
13. Arkansas (1-0)
14. Tennessee (0-1)
Week 2 Previews and Predictions (season: 8-4)
Game of the Week: LSU at Texas (+6). The big question surrounding both of these programs is whether or not they are “back.” It wasn’t too long ago when the Tigers and Longhorns were annual national title contenders, but they’ve faded considerably in recent years. Expectations are high for both schools again, and this matchup offers a glimpse to see which team is more “back” than the other. LSU’s offense was humming in the opener against Georgia Southern, but the Longhorns pose a much more challenging threat defensively. Prediction: LSU 34, Texas 27.
West Virginia at Missouri (-14). There were several disappointing and shockingly bad performances from SEC East schools, but Missouri’s loss to Wyoming was perhaps the most disappointing given the expectations surrounding the 2019 Tigers. Missouri jumped out to an early 14-0 lead but quickly fell behind by double digits and eventually lost 37-31. The Tigers look to get back on track against a rebuilding West Virginia team on Saturday. Prediction: Missouri 45, West Virginia 26.
Charleston Southern at South Carolina. The Gamecocks didn’t fare any better than Missouri in their season opener. Despite lea-ding 20-9 in the second half, South Carolina fell to North Carolina, 23-20. The offensive performance was especially discouraging. To make matters worse, senior quarterback Jake Bentley injured his foot, so freshman Ryan Hilinski will earn his first career start this weekend. Prediction: South Carolina 31, Charleston Southern 17.
Vanderbilt at Purdue (-7). Vanderbilt’s loss to Georgia surprised no one, and the Commodores actually played fairly well at times defensively. The VU offense is a work in progress, and Derek Mason’s squad needs to figure things out quickly as it hits the road to face Purdue. If the Commodores wish to return to another bowl game, this is a must-win situation. Prediction: Vanderbilt 23, Purdue 22.
Texas A&M at Clemson (-17.5). A season ago, Texas A&M nearly pulled off an upset over Clemson in the second week of the season. Granted, the Tigers were starting Kelly Bryant and not Trevor Lawrence at the time, but the Aggies were arguably the better team that night. Now, they’re making the return trip to Death Valley, and the Tigers are even better offensively. A&M still has the talent to keep this close, but it will be even tougher to pull off the upset on the road. Prediction: Clemson 38, Texas A&M 27.
Southern Miss at Mississippi State (-17). The Bulldogs didn’t dominate Louisiana like many fans probably anticipated, but the Ragin’ Cajuns are a formidable opponent. Mississippi State’s offense showed promise, and the Bulldogs should have an easy time moving the ball against the Golden Eagles. Prediction: Mississippi State 45, Southern Miss 29.
New Mexico State at Alabama (-55.5). This matchup will be a snoozer for Crimson Tide fans, and Alabama should get to play several backups throughout the afternoon. Alabama needs more consistency from the running game, and Najee Harris and Brian Robinson will have plenty of success against a porous Aggie defense. Prediction: Alabama 59, New Mexico State 3.
Murray State at Georgia (-49.5). The Bulldogs didn’t show much in their win over Vanderbilt and still cruised to an easy win. Now, Georgia gets a pair of tune-up games in Murray State and Arkansas State before Notre Dame visits Athens in a few weeks. Prediction: Georgia 56, Murray State 9.
BYU at Tennessee (-3.5). The aforementioned shocking loss of the weekend was Tennessee’s stunning defeat at home against a Georgia State team that won two games a season ago. The Panthers dominated the game, and it was much worse than the 38-30 final score indicated. Now, the Volunteers must get back on track against a solid BYU team or they might be sitting at home this postseason. Prediction: Tennessee 27, BYU 23.
UT-Martin at Florida (-42.5). Florida has had two weeks off after its narrow victory over Miami, so the Gators should look improved on Saturday offensively. UF visits Kentucky next weekend in a very important SEC East game, so the Gators need to smooth things out on both sides of the ball against UT-Martin. Prediction: Florida 48, UT Martin 10.
Tulane at Auburn (-18). After last Saturday’s emotional victory over Oregon, the Tigers are heading home to face Tulane in what in theory should be an easy win. However, this Tulane squad could pose a threat to Auburn for a few quarters due to the Green Wave’s triple option attack, which can be difficult to prepare for and play against. Auburn should still win comfortably, but it might be ugly for a half. Prediction: Auburn 34, Tulane 13.
Eastern Michigan at Kentucky (-15). The Wildcats struggled for a half against Toledo but were impressive in the second half and pulled away against a solid team. This week might not be an easy win, either, but Kentucky has a week to smooth things out before Florida comes to town. Prediction: Kentucky 34, Eastern Michigan 10.
Arkansas at Ole Miss (-6.5). Neither the Razorbacks nor the Rebels looked good in the opening week, especially offensively. Arkansas narrowly defeated Portland State, while Ole Miss lost 15-10 to Memphis. The loser of this game will struggle to make it to a bowl game, and the winner still might have a hard time getting to six wins in the difficult SEC West. Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 22.