By Cole Frederick
Alabama Week 1 Review
The Alabama defense held USC to less than 200 yards en route to a dominating 52-6 win last Saturday (Sept. 3) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex. The Crimson Tide outgained the Trojans by nearly 300 yards, while receiver ArDarius Stewart hauled in four passes for 113 yards and two scores. Blake Barnett started at quarterback and was 5 of 6 for 100 yards and a touchdown, but true freshman Jalen Hurts was the most effective signal-caller for UA. Hurts was 6 for 11 for 118 yards and two touchdowns passing and chipped in two rushing scores and 32 yards on the ground. Both players will likely see playing time this Saturday (Sept. 10) as Alabama takes on Western Kentucky at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Auburn Week 1 Review
Auburn’s offensive inconsistencies from a season ago have carried over into 2016. Gus Malzahn named Sean White the starter, but three different quarterbacks played in the Tigers’ 19-13 loss to Clemson last Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn (0-1) only mustered 262 yards of offense, but the Tiger defense kept AU within striking distance. The defense forced three turnovers, and while the Tigers didn’t necessarily shut down Deshaun Watson, they certainly limited his effectiveness. Auburn hosts Arkansas State this Saturday (Sept. 10).
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (1-0)
2. Texas A&M (1-0)
3. Georgia (1-0)
4. Tennessee (1-0)
5. Ole Miss (0-1)
6. Florida (1-0)
7. LSU (0-1)
8. Auburn (0-1)
9. Arkansas (1-0)
10. South Carolina (1-0, 1-0)
11. Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1)
12. Kentucky (0-1)
13. Missouri (0-1)
14. Mississippi State (0-1)
Week 2 Previews and Predictions
Week 1: 8-4
Game of the Week
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (-11.5).* The Volunteers survived a scare from Appalachian State on Sept. 1 but did just enough to eke out a 20-13 win in overtime. The Mountaineers led 13-3 in the second half, but the Vols rallied to steal the victory. Virginia Tech’s defense will give Tennessee some trouble, but if the Vols play up to their potential, they should win the game. Over 150,000 fans are anticipated to be in attendance, which would easily break the previous attendance record of 115,109 at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines defeated Notre Dame in 2013. Prediction: Tennessee 33, Virginia Tech 20. *game played at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.
Nichols State at Georgia (-50). Nick Chubb was the best player on the field in the Bulldogs’ 33-24 win over North Carolina, and his 222 rushing yards and two touchdowns were enough to give Kirby Smart a win in his debut as head coach. The Bulldogs get an easy victory this weekend before opening up SEC play next weekend at Missouri. Prediction: Georgia 59, Nicholls State 3.
Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M (-49.5). Not many SEC teams were impressive during the opening weekend of the season, but the Aggies’ 31-24 overtime victory over UCLA certainly was a positive for the league. Texas A&M had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, but the Bruins made a furious comeback to force overtime. After quarter-back Trevor Knight scored in overtime for the Aggies, they made a stop on defense to preserve the win. A&M gets a tune-up game this weekend before traveling to Auburn next Saturday (Sept. 17).
Kentucky at Florida (-17). The Gators’ 24-7 over Massachusetts wasn’t inspiring, but it was enough. Kentucky led Southern Miss 35-10 at one point, but the Wildcats somehow lost 44-35 to the Golden Eagles. Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida since 1986, and it’s unlikely UK will this year. Prediction: Florida 26, Kentucky 10.
Wofford at Ole Miss (-40). The Rebels led Florida State, 28-6, in the first half, but the Seminoles stormed back to pull off a 45-34 win. Ole Miss has the offensive firepower to compete with anyone but will need a more consistent version of Chad Kelly if the Rebels are going to up-set Alabama for the third straight year next week. Prediction: Ole Miss 52, Wofford 13.
South Carolina at Mississippi State (-6.5). Life post-Dak Prescott isn’t off to a good start for Dan Mu-llen. The Bulldogs were upset by South Alabama, 21-20, after a potential game-winning field goal attempt hit the uprights. South Carolina narrowly defeated Vanderbilt, 13-10, in Will Muschamp’s opener for the Gamecocks, and his team has a chance to start 2-0 in conference play this weekend. Prediction: Mississippi State 22, South Carolina 16.
Arkansas at TCU (-7.5). Arkansas barely avoi-ded a major upset against Louisiana Tech and did just enough to squeak out a 21-20 win. TCU was challenged by South Dakota State but pulled away in the second half thanks to a great performance by former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill. The Hogs will attempt to control the clock and tempo but will have their hands full on defense. Prediction: TCU 31, Arkansas 23.
Jacksonville State at LSU (-30). LSU is as talented as any team in the country, which makes last week’s loss to Wisconsin all the more perplexing. The Tigers had numerous chances to win the game, but once again inefficiency at quarterback held them back. LSU is still capable of bouncing back and winning the SEC, but the Tigers need a complete me-tamorphosis on offense over the next few weeks. Prediction: LSU 41, Jacksonville State 17.
Eastern Michigan at Missouri (-25.5). The offense was nonexistent in Missouri’s loss to West Virginia, and the Tigers will have to rely on their defense to keep them in games this year. It could be a long season for new head coach Barry Odom. Prediction: Missouri 27, Eastern Michigan 12.
Western Kentucky at Alabama (-28.5). The Crimson Tide still haven’t decided on a starting quarterback, so Hurts and Barnett will have one more chance to impress before next week’s showdown against Ole Miss. This might be a trap game for most teams, but most teams don’t have Nick Sa-ban at the helm. Prediction: Alabama 34, Western Kentucky 3.
Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt (-5.5). The Commodore defense appears strong yet again, but the offensive woes continued in the opening season loss to South Carolina. Chances to reach a bowl game appear slim, and Vandy can’t afford to lose to the Blue Raiders. Prediction: Vanderbilt 19, Middle Tennessee 13.
Arkansas State at Auburn (-19.5). Auburn’s defense looked better on Saturday than it has in years, and it looks good enough to keep them in every game they play this season. If the offense doesn’t improve soon, however, the Tigers could be in for another 6 or 7-win season. Sean White appears to be the permanent starter, but Gus Malzahn has proven to be unpredictable – and not in a good way – with his offensive game plan. Prediction: Auburn 34, Arkansas State 10.