Conference play kicks off for four teams in the SEC with a couple of divisional matchups highlighting the afternoon. And a couple of coaching legends face each other in an intriguing out of conference clash. And one team is ripe for an upset going against a Big East school. Here’s a preview of every SEC team along with a final score:
Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky should feel somewhat fortunate to escape last weeks game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Wildcats defense held strong, holding WKU to three points in the 14-3 win. Central Michigan convincingly beat South Carolina State 21-6. The Chippewas don’t have the talent on offense they’ve had in the past and Kentucky’s strength is their defense. Wildcats over Chippewas 28-10.
#16 Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers
In the first of two conference matchups on the day in the SEC, the Bulldogs and Tigers tangle. This is really strength versus weakness. Dan Mullen is putting together a very good program in Starkville and has all the key players he needs on offense to compete in the SEC West. Auburn almost needed a miracle to beat Utah State 42-38 in the final minute, while Mississippi State put 59 points on the board against Memphis in a 59-14 win. The Tigers are going to need to improve almost overnight on defense to stay in this game. Auburn has the longest winning streak in the FBS at 16 and they play at home, but the Bulldogs with Chris Relf, Vick Ballard, and Chad Bumphis are going to put a lot of points on the board against this vulnerable Auburn defense. Mississippi State wins at Jordan-Hare 42-24.
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #23 Penn State Nittany Lions
This is a pretty special game. After playing last year in Tuscaloosa when Alabama beat Penn State 24-3. Now in Happy Valley, the Nittany Lions hold homefield advantage and a big one at that. The Crimson Tide turned the ball over five times in a 48-7 blowout of Kent State and Nittany Lions beat Indiana State 41-7. Four quarterbacks could see action for these teams with both starting jobs still up in the air. There is also the history of Alabama and Penn State. WhenCrimson Tide beat the Nittany Lions in the 1979 Sugar Bowl to win their 10th national championship, a rivalry was born for the next decade. The blue bloods of college football met every year from 1981-90, with Alabama winning six times and even handing Penn State its lone loss during its 1982 national championship season. But this is 2011. If Alabama turns the ball over five times again, they lose this game. Joe Paterno vs. Nick Saban. I give the edge at this stage to Nick Saban. Crimson Tide win a nail biter, 14-10.
Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Tennessee Volunteers
The Bearcats are coming off of a 72-10 demolition of Austin Peay, while the Volunteers took out Montana 42-16. Tennessee needs to be on high alert. Cincinnati can put points on the board and Tennessee, while improving, is not there yet. Vol QB Tyler Bray brings stability to the quarterback position at Tennessee, but Bearcat QB Zach Collaros is going into his third season with starting experience. Collaros is a dual threat QB that could give the Volunteer defense fits. Bearcats beat the Volunteers in Knoxville, 38-28.
#12 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Georgia Bulldogs
This is the marquee matchup this week in SEC play. South Carolina played from behind for the better part of the game in what turned to be a blowout of East Carolina, 56-37. Georgia couldn’t get past perennial BCS buster Boise State on what was basically their home turf in the Georgia dome, 35-21. This game could very well seal Bulldgos coach Mark Richt’s fate. If he wins this game, he’ll be in the driver’s seat for the SEC East title and redemption. If Richt and Georgia lose at home, they’ll be staring down an 0-2 start and being behind the eight ball for the division title. The Gamecocks look to be a much better team with QB Stephen Garcia at the helm and they sure have all the skill players with RB Marcus Lattimore and WR Alshon Jeffrey, two of the best in the nation. That and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier seems to always have the Bulldogs number. Richt’s seat gets a little hotter after this one. Playing between the hedges in Athens keeps it close, but South Carolina takes the SEC East lead with a 38-35 win over Georgia.
Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Mississippi Rebels
The Salukis are coming off of a 38-10 thumping of Southeast Missouri State, while Ole Miss is coming off a 14-13 home loss to BYU. Ole Miss isn’t very good this year, but Southeast Missouri State isn’t exactly Brigham Young. Last time I checked the Rebels still play in the SEC and have RB Brandon Bolden to tote the rock. Ole Miss gets to .500 with this win, 35-14.
New Mexico Lobos vs. #14 Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas put up 51 points in a blowout of Missouri State last week, while New Mexico lost 14-10 to Colorado State. Arkansas offense might be the best in the SEC with QB Tyler Wilson and his band of receivers. Joe Adams brought back two punts for touchdowns for the Razorbacks last week, and Greg Childs and Jarius Wright are stud WR. Hogs have too much firepower for the Lobos, 56-14.
Alabama-Birmingham Blazers vs. #18 Florida Gators
For a full preview, click here. Florida’s defense keeps on rolling with this tuneup, 49-9.
Connecticut Huskies vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Vandy got first year head coach James Franklin his first career win last week against Elon, 45-14. Connecticut beat Fordham 35-3, giving head coach Paul Pasqualoni his first win with the Huskies. ‘Dores QB Larry Smith can make some plays for Vanderbilt. In a battle of first year coaches, Franklin and Vandy take a close one, 14-10.
Northwestern State Demons vs. #2 Louisiana State Tigers
Not real sure I need to say much about this one. It’s a night game in Death Valley. LSU’s coming off a 40-27 win over then #3 Oregon. Northwestern State took a nail biter 24-23 from Delta State. This game could be the most lopsided of the afternoon. Tigers BIG in a shutout, 56-0.
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