In & around SEC football – Week 3 previews, predictions


By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 2 Review
Alabama’s offense picked up right where it left off last week as the Crimson Tide torpedoed Arkansas State by a score of 57-7. Tua Tagovailoa was sharp in his se-cond career start in throwing for 228 yards and four touchdowns while completing 13-of-19 passes. Jalen Hurts was 7-for-9 for 93 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while Jerry Jeudy caught four passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Najee Harris rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries.
UA gained nearly 600 yards of offense on the afternoon and tied 40-0 at half-time against a very solid Arkansas State team. Alabama will hit the road this Saturday (Sept. 15) to take on Ole Miss in the conference opener for both teams.
Auburn Week 2 Review
Auburn cruised to a 63-9 win over Alabama State in the Tigers’ home opener last weekend. Auburn built a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and led 42-2 at the half. The Tigers were sloppy on both sides of the ball at the start but cored touchdowns in all three phases of the game. The focus offensively was on the running game, with a pair of freshmen leading the way. JaTarvious Whitlow rushed for 122 yards, while Shaun Shivers carried the ball 13 times for 117 yards and a score.
Jarrett Stidham wasn’t asked to do much by head coach Gus Malzahn, but the junior quarterback still threw for 113 yards and a touchdown and ran for a six-yard score. Safety Daniel Thomas intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Tigers also blocked a punt and returned it for a score in the first half. Auburn hosts LSU this Saturday for an SEC West Division showdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
SEC football rankings
1. Alabama (2-0)
2, Auburn (2-0)
3. Georgia (2-0)
4. Mississippi State (2-0)
5. LSU (2-0)
6. Texas A&M (1-1)
7. Kentucky (2-0, 1-0)
8. So. Carolina (1-1, 0-1)
9. Florida (1-1, 0-1)
10. Missouri (2-0)
11. Ole Miss (2-0)
12. Vanderbilt (2-0)
13. Tennessee (2-0)
14. Arkansas (1-1)

Week 3 Previews  and Predictions
Week 2 record: 10-2
Season: 21-5
Game of the Week: LSU at Auburn (-10). Strange things usually happen in this series, and the last two years have been par-ticularly peculiar matchups. Auburn led 20-0 in Baton Rouge last season but the Tigers of LSU stormed back to win, 27-23. In 2016, LSU believed it scored a touchdown as time expired but was flagged for not being set, and Auburn escaped with an 18-13 win despite not scoring a touchdown. Les Miles was fired a few days later, and Ed Orgeron has led the team ever since. This should be another defensive battle, and Auburn’s front seven will be the difference in the game as the home team takes home the win for the sixth straight season. Prediction: Auburn 20, LSU 12.
Murray State at Kentucky (-41). After 31 long and painful years, the Kentucky Wildcats finally defeated the Florida Gators. Kentucky’s 27-16 win in The Swamp was the biggest of Mark Stoops’ coaching career and a major accomplishment for the program. The Wildcats should have no problem with Murray State this Saturday before Mississippi State visits Lexington next weekend. Prediction: Kentucky 44, Murray State 12.
UTEP at Tennessee (-30). Jeremy Pruitt earned the first win of his coaching career as his Volunteers breezed by East Tennessee State, 59-3. Tennessee should have no trouble with UTEP on Saturday, but a tough matchup versus Flo-rida looms on Sept. 22. Prediction: Tennessee 55, UTEP 10.
Vanderbilt at Notre Dame (-15). Derek Mason’s team is 2-0 for the second straight season, but now hits the road for a very challenging game against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have more talent and speed than the Commodores, though they did look vulnerable in a narrow victory over Ball State. Vandy’s defense is young but could have some success against an average Irish offense. As good as Vanderbilt’s offense has been, the Vols could struggle on Saturday. The strength of Notre Dame’s team right now is the defense which has allowed only 33 points combined in two games. Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Vanderbilt 16.
North Texas at Arkansas (-8). The Razorbacks’ chances of reaching a bowl game took a serious hit after blowing an 18-point lead in a loss to Colorado State. Arkansas led 27-9 in the second half but the Rams stormed back to win, 34-27. The Hogs can’t afford to overlook a North Texas team that is very capable of pulling off an upset in Fayetteville. Prediction: Arkansas 31, North Texas 24.
Colorado State at Florida (-19). Becoming the first coach to lose to Kentucky in over three decades isn’t the best way to start Dan Mullen’s tenure in Gainesville, but most Gator fans realize that it will take some time for him to rebuild the program. This Florida team isn’t ready to contend for the SEC East but should improve throughout the season. Next week’s game at Tennessee is a big one for both Mullen and Pruitt. Prediction: Florida 45, Colorado State 16.
Alabama at Ole Miss (+19.5). Alabama’s young defense will be put to the test Saturday evening in Oxford. Ole Miss has one of the best offenses in the country featuring a stellar receiving corps led by star A.J. Brown. However, as good as the Rebels are on offense, they’re still not as dynamic as the Tide. Additionally, Ole Miss is abysmal on defense, so Tua Tagovailoa and the Crimson Tide offense should have a field day. Prediction: Alabama 56, Ole Miss 24.
Middle Tennessee at Georgia (-31). While Georgia was predicted to win the SEC East Division again, many believed South Carolina could contend with Kirby Smart’s team. The Bulldogs put an end to that notion last Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Georgia jumped out to an early 14-0 and never looked back en route to a 41-17 victory. The Bulldogs looked explosive on offense and remain the team to beat in the East. Prediction: Georgia 48, Middle Tennessee 6.
Missouri at Purdue (+7.5). The Tigers were impressive in a 40-13 win over a decent Wyoming team, improving to 2-0 on the season. Now, Mizzou is going on the road looking for revenge against a Purdue team that beat the Tigers 35-3 last year in Columbia. Purdue isn’t as strong this season, however, and the Boilermakers are 0-2 on the season. This game has the potential to get ugly if the Tigers are rolling offensively. Prediction: Missouri 45, Purdue 20.
Louisiana-Monroe at Texas A&M (-26). The Aggies were very impressive despite a 28-26 loss to No. 2 Clemson last Saturday. Texas A&M was close to pulling off the upset but a late two-point conversion attempt to tie the game was unsuccessful. Still, it was a strong performance from Jimbo Fisher’s team, which has the potential to be very solid as the season progresses. Prediction: Texas A&M 45, Louisiana-Monroe 17.
Marshall at South Carolina (-12.5). South Carolina might not be ready to win the SEC East but this still could be a very good team by the end of the year. The 41-17 loss to Georgia said more about the Bulldogs than it did the Gamecocks, though it was concerning how easily Georgia moved the ball up and down the field. South Carolina can still have a strong season, but must quickly regroup before play four straight SEC opponents in four weeks. Prediction: South Carolina 41, Marshall 22.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Mississippi State (-32). Even if Bill Snyder doesn’t have a great team, it’s still not easy to travel to Manhattan and knock off Kansas State. Mississippi State’s offense sputtered early last week, but the Bulldogs started rolling en route to a 31-10 victory over the Wildcats. MSU has one more tune-up game remaining before conference play begins next week at Kentucky. Prediction: Mississippi State 55, Louisiana 12.

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