Thrill of Victory

SEC picks, Week 2

SEC FootballAll 14 Southeastern Conference teams played last weekend, and all but Alabama play again this weekend. Here’s a quick look at my picks for each game involving SEC teams.

Alabama-Birmingham at LSU: The Tigers may have been the most impressive SEC team last weekend, handling a ranked TCU team in relatively easy fashion. This week, the Tigers will have no trouble moving the ball against the Blazers, and with enough players emerging on the front seven to replace all of last year’s departed talent, LSU should own that side of the ball also. LSU 49, UAB 10

Sam Houston State at Texas A&M: This was a 47-28 game in A&M’s favor last year, though A&M scored the game’s first 47 points and so that’s a bit deceptive. Still, Sam Houston should be able to put up some points against an ailing A&M defense. The problem is, it can’t stop Johnny Football. Texas A&M 56, Sam Houston State 24

Southeast Missouri State at Ole Miss: SEMO lost 45-7 last week to a Southeastern Louisiana that went 5-6 in the FCS a year ago. That’s really all you need to know. Ole Miss 63, SEMO 7

Samford at Arkansas: Samford was one of eight FCS teams to beat an FBS opponent last week. Unfortunately, that’s almost meaningless because that opponent was Georgia State, which is just making its way into the FBS and got destroyed by just about everybody it played last year. The Bulldogs got drubbed 34-3 by lowly Kentucky last year and now face an Arkansas team that looked pretty good in its opener. There’s no reason to think this will be close. Arkansas 44, Samford 13

Arkansas State at Auburn: This is the first really remotely interesting matchup I’ve discussed so far, since Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was the head coach at ASU a year ago. The Red Wolves can put up points on just about anybody, and coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, are no pushover. But most of those wins came against teams that are far from SEC caliber, and now that Malzahn has restored some punch to the Auburn offense, it’s hard not to like the Tigers at home, though a lot depends on which version of Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall shows up. Auburn 38, Arkansas State 31

Alcorn State at Missisippi State: There are good FCS teams, and there are bad FCS teams. Alcorn State, which went 4-7 a year ago and is picked last in the SWAC, is one of the latter. MSU did not look good against Oklahoma State and will be without quarterback Tyler Russell (concussion), but it doesn’t really matter. Mississippi State 45, Alcorn State 10

South Carolina at Georgia: Now we’re talking. This is going to be one of the league’s best games, the test of strength (Georgia’s offense) vs. strength (South Carolina’s defense). We’ll call that one a stalemate, but I’m giving the edge to Carolina because I think its offense is slightly ahead of Georgia’s defense at this point — but as you’ll see by the score I’m picking, this could go either way. South Carolina 28, Georgia 27

Florida at Miami: There wasn’t much exciting about the Gator offense last week, as UF won with essentially the same boring football it won with last year — and that may be a key indicator for what’s ahead, because the Gators won 11 games that way. I’m not really sold on Miami — it absolutely has the more explosive offense, but its defense has proven to be equally explosive, and I don’t mean that in the way that coach Al Golden wants it to be. When in doubt, go with the team that can stop what the other one wants to do, and that’s more likely to be Florida. Florida 24, Miami 20

Western Kentucky at Tennessee: With apologies to Smokey, this game isn’t the dog it was two years ago, when the Vols manhandled WKU by a 63-7 count. Just ask Kentucky, which gave up nearly 500 yards to the Hilltoppers last weekend. I rated the Vols as the No. 12 team in my SEC power poll this week, but that grade is more of an “incomplete” than anything, since the Austin Peay game told us next to nothing. This week will tell us a whole lot more about the Vols, but the last we saw them in games that really mattered, they were giving up 35.7 points and 471 yards a game last season. My guess is that the Vols win, but that 13-point spread seems awfully high. Tennessee 31, Western Kentucky 30

Austin Peay at Vanderbilt: As I said last week, the Governors are probably the weakest team on any SEC schedule this year. This should be over early in the second quarter by all practical purposes. Vanderbilt 59, APSU 7

Toledo at Missouri: Toledo gave Florida a decent game last week, and with Missouri’s defense, a upset’s a possibility. But I think the Tigers have a few gears to that offense now that James Franklin and Henry Josey are healthy that the Rockets don’t have. Missouri 38, Toledo 27

Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky: The Wildcats are probably going to be awful last year, but in a matchup of bad SEC teams and bad Mid-American Conferece teams, you take the SEC every time. Don’t forget, the ‘Cats beat Kent State — one of the MAC’s best teams last year — 47-14 a year ago. Kentucky 38, Miami 24