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Game Projections For Saturday 9/3/11

There’s a full slate of SEC games tomorrow and below we provide a quick look at each:

Utah State at Auburn
12:00pm ET on ESPN2

Why It Matters:  The defending BCS champs unveil an almost entirely rebuilt starting lineup.

What Vegas Says:  Auburn by 23 (opened at -32)

What We Say:  AU’s youth will eventually cause problems, but we expect all those new guys will show some extra motivation against an undermanned bunch of Aggies on opening day.

Prediction:  Auburn 38, Utah State 14

Auburn’s freshman class: Who will play on Saturday against Utah State?

Kent State at Alabama
12:15pm ET on SEC Network

Why It Matters:  AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims take their quarterback duel to the masses.  Also, it’s sure to be an emotional crowd on-hand for the first post-tornado football game in Tuscaloosa.

What Vegas Says:  Alabama by 38 (opened at -31)

What We Say:  Nick Saban will show mercy to his alma mater in the fourth quarter.

Prediction:  Alabama 52, Kent State 10

Nick Saban talks game plan concerning AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims against Kent State

BYU at Ole Miss
4:45pm ET on ESPN

Why It Matters:  BYU is talking about a national championship run should things break its way.  Houston Nutt needs to steal some thunder back from Dan Mullen before the folks in his part of the state — up North, if you will — get froggy enough to start pushing for change.

What Vegas Says:  BYU by 2.5 (opened at -1)

What We Say:  We have no idea how Barry Brunetti will handle the quarterback duties for the Rebels, but we do believe Tyrone Nix’s defense should be improved over last year’s jaw-droppingly bad unit.  And we’ve got to go with an upset somewhere…

Prediction:  Ole Miss 28, BYU 24

Rebels polish up game plan

Montana at Tennessee
6:00pm ET on PPV

Why It Matters:  Vol fans are expecting/hoping for better things in Derek Dooley’s second year. 

What Vegas Says:  No Line, FCS opponent

What We Say:  Good FCS teams have sprung some upsets in recent years (Appy State over Michigan, James Madison over Virginia Tech), but not to the point that we’ll pick one to do it.  UT should be fired up and ready for this one.

Prediction:  Tennessee 41, Montana 9

Vols not using youthful inexperience as excuses

East Carolina at South Carolina
7:00pm ET on FSN

Why It Matters:  The QB battle between Connor Shaw and Stephen Garcia will now be fought with live bullets flying around them.  With huge expectations, Steve Spurrier’s crew can’t afford an early season toe-stub.

What Vegas Says:  South Carolina by 21 (opened at -13)

What We Say:  Finally… we get to see Jadeveon Clowney.

Prediction:  South Carolina 38, East Carolina 17

ECU hopes new defensive scheme works against Gamecocks

Missouri State at Arkansas
7:00pm ET on PPV

Why It Matters:  New quarterback Tyler Wilson takes the reins of Bobby Petrino’s offense.  Backup Brandon Mitchell should see plenty of time, too.  The real goal?  Start getting a feel for the running game minus Knile Davis.

What Vegas Says:  No Line, FCS Opponent

What We Say:  This is not going to be pretty for the Bears.

Prediction:  Arkansas 55, Missouri State 10

Notes: Wingo Ready For Role; No Suspensions For Opener

Florida Atlantic at Florida
7:00pm ET on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  It’s the debut of Will Muschamp’s defense, Charlie Weis’ offense and a “new and improved” John Brantley.

What Vegas Says:  Florida by 35 (opened at -29)

What We Say:  If the Gators can get some production out of the guys around Brantley, we expect Brantley will look better than he did a year ago.  Good enough for an easy win, at least.

Prediction:  Florida 38, FAU 13

UF-FAU season opener: A beginning vs. an end

Elon at Vanderbilt
7:30pm ET on CSS

Why It Matters:  It doesn’t.  Just kidding.  We’ll get to see if James Franklin can create as much on-field enthusiasm as he has off the field.  (Plus CSS good guy Matt Stewart’s got the play-by-play duties.  Reason enough to watch.)

What Vegas Says:  No Line, FCS Opponent

What We Say:  Benefit of the doubt time.  Despite VU’s roster on offense, we’ll count on Franklin to deliver a little added scoring punch against the Phoenix.

Prediction:  Vanderbilt 30, Elon 17

VU defensive line plans to be a step ahead of last year’s version

Boise State vs Georgia in Atlanta, GA

8:00pm ET on ESPN

Why It Matters:  It doesn’t when it comes to the SEC East title.  But in terms of fans’ perception of Mark Richt and his UGA program, this one’s big.

What Vegas Says:  Boise State by 3 (opened at -3)

What We Say:  UGA’s defense should be better in Year Two under Todd Grantham, but the offense may need some time adjust to life without AJ Green.  Unless, of course, Isaiah Crowell really is Marcus Lattimore, Part Two.  Despite last minute suspensions for Boise State, we still think the Dawgs will fall a hair short in this one.

Prediction:  Boise State 24, Georgia 23

Boise’s Boldewijn, 2 others stay home

Oregon vs LSU in Arlington, TX
8:00pm ET on ABC

Why It Matters:  Are you crazy?  This game features two preseason Top 5 teams battling amidst all kinds of controversies and distractions.  Oregon’s got the flashy offense.  LSU’s got the studs — albeit young studs — on defense.  This one figures to be wild and woolly.

What Vegas Says:  Oregon by 3.5 (opened at LSU -3)

What We Say:  Pre-Jordan Jefferson/Russell Shepard messes, we’d have taken the Bayou Bengals.  Not now.

Prediction:  Oregon 24, LSU 20

LSU prepares for Oregon offense



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