In & around SEC football

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SEC Rankings

1. Auburn 

2. Alabama

3. Georgia

4. Arkansas

5. Texas A&M

6. Tennessee

7. Missouri

8. Ole Miss

9. LSU

10. Mississippi State

11. South Carolina

12. Florida

13. Kentucky

14. Vanderbilt

Week 1 Previews and Predictions 

Game of the Week

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M in Houston  (-3). The Sun Devils and Aggies are both dark horse candidates to make the College Football Playoffs, and the winner of this game will be in great shape moving forward. Both teams feature explosive offenses, but for either to be a championship contender, their defenses must improve drastically from a season ago. Expect a shootout, but look for John Chavis’s defense to make plays late to secure a victory for the Aggies. Prediction: Texas A&M 48, Arizona State 45.

Tennessee-Martin at Ole Miss (-40.5). The Rebels announced Chad Kelly as the starting quarterback, and Kelly will have an easy first game as signal caller. Ole Miss has a pair of tune-up games before it visits Alabama in two weeks. Prediction: Ole Miss 45, Tennessee-Martin 3. 

Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia (-35). Georgia is set at pretty much every position except quarterback, and former Virginia QB Greyson Lambert will have a week to get settled in for the Bulldogs. Running back Nick Chubb gets a chance to kick off his Heisman campaign against a weak Warhawks defense. Prediction: Georgia 48, ULM 6. 

UTEP at Arkansas (-33). The Razorbacks have three straight non-conference games to start the year, so they’ll be able to iron out any flaws before their showdown against Texas A&M at the end of the month. Prediction: Arkansas 41, UTEP 10. 

Louisville vs. Auburn in Atlanta (-10.5). The Ti-gers’ preseason expectations are lofty, and they’ll get a tough opening test against the Cardinals in the Georgia Dome. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is undefeated in season openers as a head coach, but his team lost several key starters from last year’s team. The Cardinals are talented enough to keep this close for a while, but the Tigers should pull away in the se-cond half. Prediction: Auburn 37, Louisville 20. 

Bowling Green at Tennessee (-20.5). Butch Jones is entering his third season as Tennessee head coach, and he’s quickly raised the expectation level for the Volunteers. UT expected to contend for the SEC East this year, but after this week the schedule immediately gets more difficult. Prediction: Tennessee 44, Bowling Green 13. 

Southeast Missouri State at Missouri (-41.5). The defending East Division champions are again flying under the radar, and the Tigers are certainly capable of winning the yet another division crown. The schedule sets up nicely for Mizzou, and the Tigers should start the season with an easy win. Prediction: Missouri 42, Southeast Missouri State 3. 

Louisiana-Lafayette at Kentucky (-17). The Wildcats can make some noise in the East this year but can’t afford to overlook the Ragin’ Cajuns. Prediction: Kentucky 38, ULL 17. 

New Mexico State at Florida (-37). Jim McElwain’s first game as Florida’s head coach should be an easy win, but the Gators have several areas of concern on offense before conference play begins. Finding a capable quarterback would be a great start to the season for the Gators. Prediction: Florida 41, NM State 0. 

McNeese State at LSU (-36.5). Brandon Harris was named the starter at quarterback for the Tigers, and he’ll look to improve after a rollercoaster freshman year. LSU is loaded pretty much everywhere else, so Harris will be the key to the Tigers’ success this season. Prediction: LSU 45, McNeese State 0. 

Wisconsin vs. Alabama in Dallas (-10.5). The Crimson Tide’s quarterback issue still has not been resolved, and they’ll likely play at least two signal callers in the first couple of games. Jake Coker, Alec Morris and Cooper Bateman could all play this week, but the running game should be good enough against the Badgers to secure a win for Alabama. The Tide defense will be great against the run, so expect a low-scoring affair in Texas. Prediction: Alabama 26, Wisconsin 9. 

Mississippi State at Southern Miss (+21). MSU was the surprise team of the SEC last season, but Dan Mullen’s team is replacing several key starters from that squad. Although the Bulldogs are on the road to start the season, Dak Prescott should lead Mississippi State to an easy opening victory. Prediction: Mississippi State 48, Southern Miss 10.

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