SEC Game Predictions for College Football’s Opening Week
Picking the Winner of the 13 SEC Games on College Football's Opening Week
Our long national nightmare is finally over with the return of college football this week with two games on Thursday and 11 more on what promises to be a glorious Saturday of college pigskin. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the same old Johnny Manziel storylines and the offseason fluff pieces to get us through an offseason which never seems to end.
I want to see on-the-field action.
When South Carolina and North Carolina kick off in the first game of the season it will have been seven months, three weeks and three days since Alabama dismantled Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game. Personally, that’s far too long to go without a real life college football game on my televisions and radio.
We will have the opportunity to see two SEC games on Thursday with Ole Miss and Vanderbilt serving as the nightcap on ESPN and in total will have 13 games with SEC teams including two vs. ranked opponents. The headliners are LSU vs. TCU and Georgia vs. Clemson, but this weekend is an opportunity to see the four new head coaches in the conference in action and if Alabama is primed for a three-peat.
I love making predictions and will do so each week throughout the regular season. Week one should be a rewarding one for the conference as a whole. Check out my predictions and reasoning for each game and let me know which games you agree or disagree with in the comments below.
South Carolina Beats North Carolina 27-23
North Carolina has a good team under head coach Larry Fedora and very well may challenge for a spot in the ACC championship game. However, I'm going with the home team with the best player in the country, Jadeveon Clowney, in a close one decided late on a Connor Shaw touchdown pass.
Ole Miss Beats Vanderbilt 24-23
The only game between two SEC foes sees the road team pull off the squeaker. This is a pivotal game that can have lasting implications two months down the road. I'm buying the hype surrounding Ole Miss and think Vanderbilt is due to regress after a nine-win season in 2012.
Florida Beats Toledo 34-16
Florida has some injury concerns at running back, but the Gators are still far too talented on offense to not put up enough offense vs. Toledo to let this get close. The Gators' defense lost some studs from last year's unit but should not see too much of a dip in production with a young defensive line and the best secondary in the conference.
Texas A&M Beats Rice 49-10
Finally we can talk about Johnny Manziel on the football field rather than what he may or may not have done off it. Manziel will play and he will be every bit as dominant as he was the last time he set foot on a field when he set Cotton Bowl records last winter. Rice doesn't stand much of a chance vs. the Aggies.
Mississippi State Loses to Oklahoma State 38-24
A tough opener for Mississippi State taking Oklahoma State at Houston's Reliant Stadium and the prolific offense of the Cowboys. I don't think the Bulldogs fall off as much as some as predicting this season, but they have too many questions in the secondary and at wide receiver to feel comfortable predicting a win here.
Arkansas Loses to Louisiana-Lafayette 28-24
Bret Bielema's debut as the Arkansas head coach isn't against a cupcake team you can take lightly as he gets his feet wet with Louisiana-Lafayette. Mark Hudspeth's team won nine last year and almost pulled off the an upset of the Gators in Florida. Terrance Broadway is a dual-threat at quarterback for the Ragin Cajuns and will put his name on the map after this upset in Fayetteville.
Alabama Beats Virginia Tech 52-17
Alabama would face a stiffer test if they were to hold a scrimmage vs their freshmen and sophomores than the injury-depleted Hokies who are going to get exposed on national television. Alabama will break offensive records this year and their defense will again be one of the top two or three units in the nation. Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is going to be in for a long night.
Tennessee Beats Austin Peay 35-13
Tennessee starts the Butch Jones era in Knoxville against an Austin Peay team coming off a two-win season in 2012 that is the perfect opponent for the Vols to open against. Tennessee has questions at quarterback and wide receiver so this will be a ripe opportunity to see multiple quarterbacks get opportunities against the Austin Peay defense and see which one emerges.
Auburn Beats Washington State 23-20
Auburn has concerns in the secondary and the absence of top sack artist Dee Ford is reason for trepidation against Mike Leach's air-raid offense, but I'm siding with the home team who will play in front of an amped up crowd for Gus Malzahn's first game as head coach of the Tigers.
Kentucky Loses to Western Kentucky 17-16
A sneaky opponent in Western Kentucky with head coach Bobby Petrino on a neutral field is a tough test for Mark Stoops' first game as head coach of Kentucky. I think the Wildcats fall in the opener but will be a much improved team under Stoops.
Missouri Beats Murray State 38-17
Missouri will have no trouble putting points up against the Ohio Valley opponent in their opener. James Franklin and the Tigers' offense should get into a rhythm early against Murray State and get some confidence early after a disappointing 2012.
Georgia Beats Clemson 34-31
The best game on college football's opening weekend won't disappoint as this game goes down to the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Aaron Murray and Georgia put together a two-minute drill in response to Tajh Boyd and Clemson's go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter as Todd Gurley punches in the winning score from five yards out.
LSU Beats TCU 30-21
Some think TCU has a shot to win the Big 12 this season with the return of quarterback Casey Pachall, and LSU could be ripe for the taking after losing so much talent on defense. However, I'm not one to share that opinion and think the Tigers' defense will be as stout as it always is to stifle the Horned Frogs' offense to get the win. I'm also a believer in Cam Cameron's impact on Zach Mettenberger and the Tigers' offense with the return of Jeremy Hill at running back.