By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 1 Review
Auburn knocked off Washington, 21-16, in a showdown between two top 10 teams last Saturday in Atlanta. The Tigers forced two Washington turnovers and submitted a terrific performance defensively. The Huskies made several trips into the red zone but Auburn allowed only one touchdown on the afternoon.
Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 26 of 36 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown. The Tigers struggled to run the ball for most of the game but Kam Martin finished with 80 yards on 22 carries. Freshman back JaTarvious Whitlow scored the game-winning touchdown from 10 yards out late in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers return home this Saturday (Sept. 8) to take on Alabama State.
Alabama Week 2 Review
Nick Saban didn’t reveal the starter at quarterback until the last possible moment, and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa earned the start against Louisville. In his first career start, Tagovailoa led the Alabama to a 51-14 victory and he threw for 226 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jerry Jeudy caught four passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns, while DeVonta Smith caught four passes for 99 yards.
The Crimson Tide dominated from start to finish and built a 28-0 lead by halftime. Jalen Hurts played a few series during the game and threw for 70 yards in a limited role. Alabama’s defense was stifling and did not allow points until late in the third quarter.
Alabama hosts Arkansas State on Saturday for the home opener of the season.
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (1-0)
2. Auburn (1-0)
3. Georgia (1-0)
4. Mississippi State (1-0)
5. LSU (1-0)
6. Florida (1-0)
7. South Carolina (1-0)
8. Texas A&M (1-0)
9. Ole Miss (1-0)
10. Missouri (1-0)
11. Vanderbilt (1-0)
12. Arkansas (1-0)
13. Kentucky (1-0)
14. Tennessee (1-0)
Week 2 Previews and Predictions
Week 1 record: 11-3
Game of the Week: Georgia at South Carolina (+10). Georgia reclaimed its throne atop the SEC East Division last year in Kirby Smart’s second season. The Bulldogs won the SEC and nearly won the national title. While UGA is still the favorites to win the East this fall, South Carolina is expected to emerge as a threat to the Bulldogs. Will Muschamp’s team won nine games a season ago and return several starters on both sides of the ball. The combination of quarterback Jake Bentley and receiver Deebo Samuel is one of the best in the country, and the Gamecocks should be able to move the ball on an inexperienced Georgia defense. Georgia relied heavily on its defense last year but now the offense is the strongest unit on the team. Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift need to have big games offensively for the Bulldogs to go on the road and knock off a very solid South Carolina team. Prediction: Georgia 30, South Carolina 23.
Mississippi State at Kansas State (+9). The Bulldogs have high expectations for the 2018 season and started the year with a 63-6 victory over Stephen F. Austin. Starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was suspended for the first game but will be back as the Bulldogs travel to Manhattan to take on Kansas State. Bill Snyder has been known to pull off upsets when least expected, though the Wildcats were nearly upset by South Dakota in the season opener. Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Kansas State 24.
Nevada at Vanderbilt (-9.5). The Commodores were impressive in their season opening win against Middle Tennessee. Vanderbilt defeated the Blue Raiders 35-7, and the defense was especially impressive considering Derek Mason had to replace several starters on that side of the ball. The Commodores should cruise past Nevada on Saturday, as long as they don’t look ahead to next week’s game at Notre Dame. Prediction: Vanderbilt 38, Nevada 20.
Southern Illinois at Ole Miss (-29.5). The Rebels’ offense looked unstoppable in a 47-27 win over Texas Tech last weekend. Granted, the Red Raiders aren’t known for their defensive prowess, but Ole Miss was effective in both the running and passing games. Ole Miss gets a tune-up game this weekend before Alabama visits Oxford on Sept. 15. Prediction: Ole Miss 55, Southern Illinois 23.
East Tennessee State at Tennessee (-37.5). Jeremy Pruitt’s debut as the Tennessee head coach didn’t go very smoothly, as West Virginia dominated the Volunteers, 40-14. The Mountaineers are a very talented team, but Tennessee didn’t play particularly well. Pru-itt and the Vols have an opportunity to work out some kinks this weekend in Knoxville. Prediction: Tennessee 41, East Tennessee State 13.
Arkansas State at Alabama (-37.5). Tua Tagovailoa is starting this week after his impressive debut as a starter last weekend. Jalen Hurts will almost certainly play, and the Tide will have no trouble scoring against the Red Wolves. Arkansas State isn’t a bad team, so be prepared for a Nick Saban rant if Alabama isn’t as sharp as they were against Louisville. Prediction: Alabama 52, Arkansas State 16.
Clemson at Texas A&M (-12.5). Jimbo Fisher might have left Tallahassee, but he couldn’t escape Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers for very long. Florida State and Clemson developed a rivalry when Fisher was with the Seminoles, and he had the upper hand after he guided the Seminoles to a national title in 2013. Swinney won a title of his own in 2017, however, and the Tigers have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Clemson will likely be back in the final four this year, while Fisher is tasked with turning Texas A&M into a contender. It might not take him long, but the Aggies aren’t ready to compete with the Tigers just yet. Prediction: Clemson 33, Texas A&M 16.
Wyoming at Missouri (-17.5). Heisman hopeful Drew Lock looked sharp in Missouri’s season-opening win against Tennessee-Martin, but he’ll face a much more challenging defense this weekend in Columbia. The Cowboys are very solid defensively but likely won’t be able to keep up with the Tigers’ potent offense for the entirety of the game. Prediction: Missouri 41, Wyoming 24.
Southeastern Louisiana at LSU (-38.5). LSU put together one of the most impressive performances of the weekend in cruising past Miami, 33-17. The Tigers were especially dominant on defense, as Miami didn’t score a touchdown until late in the game. LSU’s offense was solid but the Tigers have plenty of work to on that side of the ball before they visit Auburn next Saturday (Sept. 15). Prediction: LSU 44, Southeastern Louisiana 3.
Alabama State at Auburn (-50.5). Similar to LSU, Auburn’s offense requires work before the Bayou Bengals visit The Plains next week. Jarrett Stidham was sharp against Washington but the running game was average at best. The Tigers will be able to rely on their defense often this year but there will be games where the offense needs to shine. Prediction: Auburn 56, Alabama State 9.
Kentucky at Florida (-14.5). Dan Mullen’s tenure at Florida began with an easy victory over Charleston Southern. Conference play now begins, and the Gators host a team they’ve beaten in 31 straight seasons. Kentucky has had chances to knock off Florida in recent seasons but the Wildcats have fallen just short. Mullen doesn’t have a contender right now, but it might not take him long to build one in Gainesville. Prediction: Florida 34, Kentucky 17.
Arkansas at Colorado State (+13.5). New Arkansas coach Chad Morris started his tenure with an easy win over Eastern Illinois. The Hogs looked sharp on offense, which is Morris’ calling card. The Hogs now travel to Colorado State for their first road test of the year. The Rams are 0-2 and have been porous on defense, so the Razorbacks should be able to find success on offense on Saturday. Prediction: Arkansas 45, Colorado State 27.