By Cole Frederick/Staff Correspondent
Auburn Week 1 Recap
After a slow start, Auburn pulled away from Kentucky for a 29-13 victory on Sept. 26 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the season opener for both squads. Bo Nix connected with Seth Williams six times for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and Nix threw for three total touchdowns and 233 yards. New AU offensive coordinator Chad Morris presented Kentucky with several different looks and route combinations, and the Auburn passing attack looked better than it did at any point a season ago. The Tigers (1-0) rushed for only 91 yards, but the revamped offensive line held up well in pass protection. Defensively, Auburn relied on linebacker K.J. Britt and other experienced players on the backend of the unit and forced three Wildcat turnovers. Auburn travels to Athens on Saturday (Oct. 3) for an early season top 10 matchup against Georgia.
Alabama Week 2 Recap
Alabama looked crisp offensively and cruised to a 38-19 road victory over Missouri to open the season. Mac Jones completed 18 of his 24 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jaylen Waddle, who snagged eight passes for 134 yards. DeVonta Smith caught eight passes for 89 yards, while Najee Harris rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Missouri added a couple of late touchdowns, but the Alabama defense was sharp for the first three quarters of the game. Dylan Moses returned to the field after a season-ending injury a year ago, and his presence made a noticeable different for the Crimson Tide defense. Alabama hosts Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday for a top-15 matchup.
1. Alabama (1-0)
2. Florida (1-0)
3. Georgia (1-0)
4. Auburn (1-0)
5. Mississippi State (1-0)
6. Texas A&M (1-0)
7. Tennessee (1-0)
8. LSU (0-1)
9. Kentucky (0-1)
10. Ole Miss (0-1)
11. South Carolina (0-1)
12. Missouri (0-1)
13. Vanderbilt (0-1)
14. Arkansas (0-1)
Week 1 Previews and Predictions
Week 1: 6-1
Saturday, Oct. 3
Game of the Week: Auburn at Georgia (-6.5). Before COVID-19 altered the entire SEC sch-edule, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry was moved from November to October so Auburn would not have to play two national title contenders over a three-week span. However, neither the Tigers nor the Bulldogs anticipated this showdown happening in Week 2 of the season. This game has SEC championship implications and possibly national title implications, especially considering Georgia’s upcoming schedule of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida during the next month. A loss on Saturday would be trouble for the Kirby Smart’s team. Georgia struggled offensively in the first half against Arkansas, and while transfer quarterback J.T. Daniels was cleared medically this week, it’s unclear if he will be available on Saturday. Gus Malzahn has not won in Athens as Auburn’s head coach and considering that there won’t be many fans in attendance in Athens on Saturday, this might be his best chance. Prediction: Auburn 20, Georgia 17.
South Carolina at Florida (-17.5). The combination of Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts proved to be unstoppable in Oxford last week, as Florida hung 51 points on the Rebels. Dan Mullen’s Gators looks like a legitimate contender in the SEC East. Florida’s offense should have plenty of success against South Carolina on Saturday, though the defense needs to make improvements after Ole Miss gashed the Gators for 443 yards and 35 points. UF should cruise to 2-0 before a daunting road game at Texas A&M. Prediction: Florida 38, South Carolina 17.
Missouri at Tennessee (-11.5). Tennessee has high expectations this season and did just enough to leave Columbia last week with a narrow 31-27 win over South Carolina. It wasn’t the sharpest performance on the Volunteers’ part, but it certainly was a better way to start the season than last year’s stunning loss to Georgia State. UT should be 2-0 before traveling to Athens to take on East Division rival Georgia next weekend. Prediction: Tennessee 34, Missouri 17.
Texas A&M at Alabama (-17). If Texas A&M is finally going to win the West Division, this is a game the Aggies need to steal. Despite last week’s sluggish performance against Vanderbilt, this is a very talented Texas A&M squad. Kellen Mond will need to have his best performance at quarterback for the Aggies in order to pull off the upset. Alabama looks like a national title contender yet again, however, and the UA defense has plenty of speed to combat the Aggies’ skill players. The Tide offense is explosive, and the Aggies will have a difficult time matchup up with Jaylen Waddle on the perimeter. Prediction: Alabama 38, Texas A&M 16.
Ole Miss at Kentucky (-6.5). Despite losses for both of these teams in Week 1, both showed flashes of potential. The Ole Miss offense will be dynamic under Lane Kiffin, and Kentucky’s offensive line was the strength of the team against Auburn. While it’s unlikely that either team will contend in their respective divisions, they both will be tough opponents in conference play. Prediction: Kentucky 27, Ole Miss 24.
Arkansas at Mississippi State (-18). Mike Leach could not have asked for a better start to his tenure in Starkville. The Bulldogs upset LSU on the road and put up 44 points and over 600 yards passing in the process. Mississippi State caught LSU at the right time and capitalized on the opportunity. Leach’s squad should start off 2-0 with an underwhelming Arkansas team visiting Starkville this weekend, but the schedule starts to toughen in Week 3. Prediction: Mississippi State 38, Arkansas 23.
LSU at Vanderbilt (+20). As it turns out, losing a Heisman winner, several NFL draft picks and both coordinators in a single offseason might yield negative results. After one of the best seasons in college football history in 2019, LSU fell to Mississippi State, 44-34, in the first game of the season in Baton Rouge. This is a much different looking LSU team, and the Tigers could be in store for a rebuilding season. Vanderbilt had chances to beat Texas A&M on the road, but the Commodores struggled off-ensively and mustered only 12 points. Prediction: LSU 31, Vanderbilt 23.