Week 1 Record (12-1) | Overall Record (12-1)
SEC Football Predictions has one week under its belt after a long weekend of games in Week 1. The record looks good, but it is also a little misleading. Of the 14 SEC games played this weekend, only one had a big question mark over it and it’s the one game we missed terribly (Texas A&M 38-17 over Arizona State).
In what is becoming an annual expectation, we even had the standard Week 1 cancellation due to weather. This year’s weather delay casualty is LSU-McNeese State. The game will not be made up, but you can rest assured knowing McNeese will get the anticipated large payout and the fans will not get a refund for their troubles. What if LSU goes undefeated? Do they find a way to make the game up just to squash any strength-of-schedule questions?
As much as we would like to celebrate and accept the accolades coming in from all over the world, the great success of opening week must be tucked away somewhere for later enjoyment. It is now Week 2 and not a one of these great games are going to predict themselves.
All Times Eastern | Utilizing AP Rankings until the College Football Playoff Selection Committee Rankings are released in October.
SEC Predictions | Week 2
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Jacksonville State (1-0) at #6 Auburn (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Noon ET | SEC Network
Impressive ugly win: Auburn debuted Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator and Jeremy Johnson as starting quarterback in Week 1 and looked good for the most part in their 31-24 win. As many teams will find in the first week against a good opponent, the win was big, but it didn’t come without concerns heading into conference play after a Week 2 battle against an in-state opponent from the FCS, Jacksonville State.
The Tigers defense looked much more aggressive and the 82-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Auburn a 14-0 lead had Muschamp’s signature all over it. That same unit also gave up 405 yards of offense while allowing the Cardinals to turn a 31-10 deficit into a near-comeback miracle before Bobby Petrino inexplicably managed the final two minutes of the clock like he was auditioning to play Les Miles in a feature film.
Not all of that near-comeback can be placed on the shoulder of the defense, although Johnson did his best to weigh them down with three interceptions to put the defense back on the field with little rest.
Regardless, Auburn enters this week’s game with JSU at 1-0 and should be able to build some confidence heading into back-to-back SEC West games at LSU and at home against Mississippi State. Jeremy Johnson will need the boost in confidence to prevent him from ruining a sure win by unnecessarily trying to prove he is the most dominant quarterback in the conference.
PREDICTION: Auburn 42, Jacksonville State 7
#10 Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | CBS
CBS will be at Vanderbilt? The fact that CBS will be in Nashville is baffling, but after doing a little research on the matter, we can tell you for a fact that we are not the only website that believes this must be CBS’ way of keeping the maximum number of SEC West games on the table for later in the season. For Whom The Cowbell Tolls makes a great point that agrees with our assessment.
It’s also important to point out that CBS doesn’t normally open its broadcast season until the third week — usually a date with Verne and Gary from the confines of either Neyland Stadium or The Swamp. So, what we are seeing is CBS playing its lowest cards in hand since they had two weeks with which to play.
Moreover, CBS chose the game with the least amount of risk by safely assuming Vanderbilt not being remotely considered for another prime game the remainder of the season. Even with Georgia already being guaranteed the annual matchup with Florida, CBS will still have three more opportunities to walk them ‘Dawgs in the event they stay in contention in the East. Add in the fact that Vanderbilt and Georgia are inside two of the four largest markets in the SEC, it’s a safe throwaway pick.
All that being said, Vanderbilt is playing really well on defense and they will play great defense the entire season. Even games like this will be closer on the scoreboard than most feel it should, but the lack of offense will once again wear down the Commodores as they begin conference play at 0-1.
PREDICTION: Georgia 24, Vanderbilt 3
Fresno State (1-0) at #17 Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
3:30 PM ET | ESPN2
Get your kicks on 76: UT-Martin is not Alabama or Notre Dame, but anytime you put up 76 points, all cylinders appear to be firing. The biggest challenge for the Rebels this week will be not looking ahead to next Saturday’s showdown in Tuscaloosa and not getting precocious about the 76 points scored in one game.
They won’t score 76, but Ole Miss gets the college football world buzzing over the prospects of the Rebels winning in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 1988.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 44, Fresno State 10
Middle Tennessee (1-0) at #2 Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network
No injuries is job one: Alabama and Ohio State looked like the best teams coming out of Week 1 of the college football season and the polls agree. Alabama moved up to No. 2 in the AP poll and look poised to exact revenge on Ole Miss next week in Tuscaloosa in a late-night kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Before the Rebels come to town, the Tide will welcome the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee out of the geographical center of the state. After the warm welcome, Bama will commence to laying down a fair amount of smack before pulling every starter out as soon as possible and cleaning out the bench.
PREDICTION: Alabama 48, MTSU 21
Toledo (0-0) at #18 Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
4:00 PM ET | SEC Network Alt
The Hogs are good: There’s nothing more to really say on this, honestly. Arkansas can run the ball at will and they will do just that in this win over the Rockets.
PREDICTION: Arkansas 42, Toledo 7
#19 Oklahoma (1-0) vs. #23 Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
6:00 PM ET | ESPN
Popular upset pick: Tennessee is the popular pick to get the win and the pick has been popular since the moment the clock read 00:00 after Tennessee’s destruction of Iowa in the bowl game. You can also factor in Oklahoma’s relatively unimpressive play the past few seasons. Relative is a funny word, though.
Bob Stoops and the Sooners love nothing more than being taken for granted and that is exactly where they are at this juncture of the 2015 season. We all point fingers and turn our noses up at Oklahoma each year when they (gasp) lose a game or two after being ranked in the top three to start the season and we write them off.
With very little national sizzle and a pedestrian No. 18 AP ranking, the Sooners look poised to be dominant. Tennessee is very good on offense this season and has the potential to be great. The defense is making strides, but anything less than really good play from the secondary could turn this game into a track meet that Tennessee is not ready to win. The run game is key for the Vols if for nothing but controlling the clock and keeping Oklahoma’s offense off the field. Butch Jones needs his offense to be his best defense if he hopes to get his first huge win as head coach of the Vols.
Not many bricks will fall off his brick-by-brick wall if they lose a close a one in Neyland Stadium, but this team has the potential to win the East if they can gather a little momentum and a catch a few breaks along the way. Beating a name brand like Oklahoma will put the Power T back into the national conscience.
Bad News Fact For Tennessee Fans: If you believe in history and what it represents to our present and future (Read: if you are from the South), you will not like the history of Oklahoma’s record in August and September since 2006. The Sooners are an impressive 31-4 in those two opening months of the season and they will need history to be on their side on the road to get to the win.
The Vols have 102,000 fans on their side and — like in 1998 against Florida — those fans will provide the extra push needed to squeak out a victory. The ghost of General Neyland will be singing Rocky Top all night long.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 40, Oklahoma 37 (2OT)
#21 Missouri (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Arkansas State (0-1)
7:00 PM ET | ESPN3
The “Did I See That Score Correctly?” game of the night: As the Vols and Oklahoma are heading to the first of their two-overtime game, you will see the ESPN Score Alert on the crawl at the bottom of the screen and say, “Did I see that score correctly?” The answer will be, “Yes.” Arkansas State will go up 21-7 on Missouri and you will spend the remaining hours of the night after the Tennessee-Oklahoma game explaining to your wife that Missouri is losing to Arkansas State and you have to watch in on the laptop because it’s not on television and that, yes, you need to keep the television tuned to ESPN because LSU and Mississippi State is the biggest game of the night.
Missouri makes a comeback effort in the second half, but much like last year’s Indiana game, it’s too little too late. Missouri loses, but as only Missouri can do, they remain undefeated in the SEC East.
PREDICTION: Arkansas State 31, Missouri 24
Ball State (1-0) at #16 Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:00 PM ET | ESPNU
They’re baaaaaack… Or are they? The Ball State game in College Station won’t tell us if A&M is really back or not, but the dismantling they issued Arizona State last Saturday in Houston was impressive.
To assist in tempering the excitement over the Aggies as SEC West contenders, let’s not forget that the same A&M team that moved to No. 5 in the AP poll after hammering South Carolina to open the season last year with physical defense and flashy quarterback play was the same team that lost 59-0 in Tuscaloosa. They also won only two more SEC games after that impressive win.
The best counterpoint to the above tempering is A&M’s hiring of John Chavis at defensive coordinator. He’s not the best defensive coordinator to live and could possibly be a tad bit overrated, but when you look at longevity, consistency and knowledge of the SEC, Chavis is light years ahead of anyone A&M has had running the defense under Kevin Sumlin.
Texas A&M will be 2-0 after the battle against Ball State.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 45, Ball State 14
East Carolina (1-0) at Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:00 PM ET | ESPN2
Who is Florida? This is a question we will be asking for at least two or three more weekends. No one honestly believes they are a contender in the East, but stranger things have played out. There are too many good games on at the same time as this one so keep up with Florida’s win during highlights, score crawls and when ESPN2 cuts to the split screen showing all the games happening on the ESPN family of networks. Congrats to Jim McElwain on beginning the season 2-0.
PREDICTION: Florida 28, ECU 13
Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at South Carolina (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
7:30 p.m. ET | SEC Network
Stuff: One of two intra-conference games this weekend, the Gamecocks welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to Williams-Brice Stadium to seek revenge for last year’s complete come-apart in Lexington. Sadly, for the Gamecocks and Spurrier, the Old Ball Coach no longer appears to have an answer for any team in the conference. Kentucky included.
PREDICTION: Kentucky 35, South Carolina 21
#14 LSU (0-0, 0-0 SEC) at Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
9:15 PM ET | ESPN
Earliest kickoff of 2015 for MSU: I’m actually going to just copy and paste what I wrote last week for the MSU-Southern Miss game regarding kickoff times. This is one time I agree with Dan Mullen so I think it bears repeating.
You would think Dan Mullen wouldn’t mind late kickoffs because he said he will not sleep for 365 days after last season’s Ole Miss loss, but apparently he’s a little miffed at the kickoff time that is as close to SNL as it is CBS’s 48 Hours on the television schedule. So much so, that he wants to petition the NCAA because “they outlawed practices past midnight.”
The NCAA calibrating the moral barometer to justify their actions? You don’t say.
I know this is SEC Football Predictions, but let’s discuss Dan Mullen’s disgust at yet another contradiction by the moral police known as the NCAA. Honestly, who can blame him? I understand there are monetary advantages of having every game on television where some portion of the game isn’t overlapped by multiple games. I also understand that the fan in the stands is becoming (or has already become) nothing more than an extension of television’s fourth wall.
Every decision made is about television numbers. What those at the top who get to count all this television money as it’s being deposited into their accounts fail to understand is no one likes watching a game with no one in the stands. There has at least a small bit of “Man, I wish I was there, but at least I can watch it on television” experience. If there is no spectacle being created around the event by fervor of the fans, then the broadcast is nothing more than a talk show with guys running around on a field.
Early must-win mode: LSU finds itself opening the season in Starkville, Mississippi, since last week’s game with McNeese State was cancelled due to lightning. Instead of getting some scrimmage time in for quarterbacks Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings, the Tigers were relegated to multiple warm-up sessions on the wet turf inside Tiger Stadium in full dress. Mississippi State was able to play a game on the road against an in-state team looking to make its season in Week 1 with an upset.
The good news for LSU is they get to take on Auburn next week. That is a sarcastic statement, but it is not an exaggeration to consider this game must-win for LSU because the season could be over before they ever get out of September.
But remember what we said about what Bob Stoops and Oklahoma had in common with Les Miles and LSU? Exactly. Just when you think they are out-manned and the deck is stacked against them, they rise to the occasion, many times like a caged lion… or Tiger. Les Miles uses the setback of not playing the week before as a rallying cry and Mississippi State fans are left to rant while shaking their cowbell furiously in despair at the end of the night.
PREDICTION: LSU 28, Mississippi State 10
Eric Taylor is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @EricFromSpfld or contact him via email at EricFromSpringfield–at– gmail–dot– com.