Here’s the schedule of SEC games this weekend, along with some basics on each game, my predictions and analysis.
Schedule of Saturday, Sept. 10 Games
Central Michigan (1-0) at Kentucky (1-0)
12 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Lexington, Ky. • C.M. Newton Field / Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Series Record: UK leads, 5-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 30, 2006 (UK, 45-36)
Thoughts: Past Chippewas teams may have beaten this Kentucky outfit. CMU isn’t as good as it used to be. Kentucky surely can’t be as bad offensively as it was in the opener. Randall Cobb nearly produced as many yards by himself in his NFL debut for the Green Bay Packers than Kentucky’s team mustered against WKU (Cobb 175 total yards, UK 190 yards total offense.) I think we’ll see a much better performance from the Wildcats this week.
Mississippi State (1-0) at Auburn (1-0)
12:21 a.m. ET • SEC Network / ESPN3.com
Auburn, Ala. • Pat Dye Field / Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Series Record: AU leads, 59-23-2 • Last Meeting: Sept. 9, 2010 (AU, 17-14)
Winner: Mississippi State
Thoughts: This isn’t the no-brainer that everyone seemingly wants it to be in MSU’s favor. Its vogue to root for the quick demise of last year’s controversial BCS champs. It’s easy to root for the “little guy” “new team” on the rise. These two teams usually play close games. Auburn is 8-0 in games decided by four points or less under Gene Chizik. Auburn has won three straight in the series including that 3-2 debacle in 2008. How do the Mississippi State players handle a hostile road environment after hearing how good they are now? MSU is better but Auburn can win.
Cincinnati (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
3:30 p.m. ET • ESPN2 / ESPN3.com
Knoxville, Tenn. • Shields-Watkins Field / Neyland Stadium (100,011)
Series Record: UT leads, 4-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 26, 1992 (UT, 40-0)
Thoughts: Take the over, whatever that number is. There will be a lot of points scored in this game. It may not be Baylor/TCU but it could be a 41-31 type game with big plays left and right. The trio of Bearcats (QB-Calloros, RB-Pead and WR-Woods) will go back-and-forth with the trio of Volunteers (QB-Bray, WR-Hunter and WR-D. Rogers) in this shootout. Cincinnati is a legit threat on the road. The Vols better not fall behind big early. Neither defense is very good but I think UT’s is better and will make a couple of key stops.
Alabama (1-0) at Penn State (1-0)
3:30 p.m. ET • ABC / ESPN3.com
University Park, Pa. • Beaver Stadium (106,572)
Series Record: UA leads, 9-5 • Last Meeting: Sept. 11, 2010 (UA, 24-3)
Thoughts: Both teams are still trying to figure things out at quarterback. Problem for Penn State is that I think both of Alabama’s quarterbacks are, and will be, better than Penn State’s duo of signal callers. Alabama’s defense will stuff the Nittany Lions’ run game and force at least three turnovers. This game will regain the attention of the rest of the country who has doubts about the Crimson Tide. Alabama will win at Penn State and it won’t be close.
South Carolina (1-0) at Georgia (0-1)
4:30 p.m. ET • ESPN / ESPN3.com
Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Series Record: UGA leads, 46-15-2 • Last Meeting: Sept. 11, 2010 (USC, 17-6)
Winner: South Carolina
Thoughts: Georgia showed the same flaws from last year in the loss to Boise State. Don’t be fooled by South Carolina giving-up points and yards last week to East Carolina. The Pirates offense is tremendous. Not starting Stephen Garcia slowed SC down as well. The HBC will be committed to the run early and often, as he was last year when he first unveiled Marcus Lattimore to the world with his 37-carry performance. Gamecocks. Easy.
Southern Illinois (1-0) at Ole Miss (0-1)
6 p.m. ET • Ole Miss PPV / ESPN3.com
Oxford, Miss. • Hollingsworth Field / Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Series Record: UM leads, 1-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 10, 1994 (UM, 59-3)
Winner: Ole Miss
Thoughts: FCS opponent. None needed. Oh wait, its Ole Miss. Nevermind. Guess an explanation is needed. Let’s see. The Rebels learned a lesson from the loss to Jacksonville State last year? Surely to goodness it did, since that FCS loss wrecked the 2010 season for Ole Miss. Won’t happen again. I think.
UAB (0-0) at Florida (1-0)
7 p.m. ET • FSN
Gainesville, Fla • Florida Field / Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88, 548)
Series Record: UF leads 1-0 • Last Meeting: 2002 (UF, 51-3)
Thoughts: Strange scheduling means the Gators don’t have new tape on the Blazers this season since this is UAB’s opener. UAB nearly won in Knoxville and Starkville last season. They’ll bring some spunk to Gainesville but the Gators will win going away thanks to a good young defense and a Charlie Weis offense that looks like it knows how to utilize Demps and Rainey. That way to utilize them is, together and a lot.
New Mexico (0-1) at Arkansas (1-0)
7 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Little Rock, Ark. • War Memorial Stadium (53,727)
Series Record: UA leads, 2-0 • Last Meeting: Nov. 28, 1987 (UA, 43-25)
Thoughts: If you’re a Tennessee fan, you may enjoy watching this beat-down to see New Mexico OC David Reaves’ offense give-up double-digit sacks and bunches of interceptions.
Connecticut (1-0) at Vanderbilt (1-0)
7:30 p.m. ET • CSS / ESPN3.com
Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Series Record: Tied, 1-1 • Last Meeting: Oct. 2, 1010 (UConn, 40-21)
Thoughts: This is a good test for Vandy to see if it has a chance to be respectable (4-5 wins) this year or the same-ole-same-ole (1-2 wins.) Despite the QB by committee for the Huskies, I like UConn to run the football well and win in Nashville.
Northwestern State (1-0) at LSU (1-0)
8 p.m. ET • LSU PPV / ESPN3.com
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Series Record: LSU leads, 10-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 19, 1942 (LSU, 40-0)
Thoughts: FCS opponent. None needed.
Vince Ferrara has more than 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, in numerous SEC and Big 12 markets, working in sports radio, play-by-play and television. You can hear him host the “News Sentinel Sports Page” weekdays 10am-12pm ET on WNML - “The Sports Animal” in Knoxville and read more of his work at Examiner.com.