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SEC Game Previews – 9/14/12

Here’s your weekly rundown of all the SEC action coming your way in Week Three of the regular season.  As always, you’ll find everything from TV info to lines to keys to predictions.

Enjoy the games, be safe, and best of luck to your favorite school this weekend.

Here goes…

 

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn

12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  AU -17

Current Line:  AU -16.5

Storylines:  First, can ULM pull back-to-back upsets on the road against SEC teams.  If so, let’s start the expansion rumors.  Second, Gene Chizik can not — not — afford to lose this game or else he’ll be staring down the barrel of a possible Oh-for-September start with LSU visiting the Plains next week.

Keys for Auburn:  Start with tackling.  Brian VanGorder’s new defense has been less than impressive and ULM quarterback Kolton Browning threw for 412 yards and ran for another 69 against Arkansas.  Auburn can’t let one man destroy them.  Also, it’s time for Kiehl Frazier to start making some improvements.  Last week he was responsible for five turnovers and the Tigers’ passing game ranks #112 out of 124 FBS schools.

Pick:  Auburn 33, Louisiana-Monroe 21

 

Presbyterian at Vanderbilt

12:30pm ET on CSS

Opening Line:  No line (FCS opponent)

Current Line:  No line (FCS opponent)

Storylines:  The smallest cupcake in all the FCS — 1,200 students total — visits Vanderbilt.  That’s an embarrassment.  Granted, we say that about all the creampuffs SEC schools schedule, but the Blue Hose?  Come on.

Keys for Vanderbilt:  Pick your poison.  The Commodores rank #113 in the nation in running the ball (averaging just 2.33 yards per carry).  So there’s that.  But quarterback Jordan Rodgers is completing less than 54% of his passes and he’s already been sacked eight times through two games.  So there’s that, too.  Simple key?  Start to find someone confidence on offense.

Pick:  Vanderbilt 40, Presbyterian 7

 

Texas A&M at SMU

3:30pm ET on FSN

Opening Line:  A&M -10

Current Line:  A&M -12.5

Storylines:  The Aggies will try to bounce back from last week’s tough loss to Florida by besting an old SWC rival.  The Mustangs have had a bit of a revival under June Jones, but that 59-24 thumping at the hands of Baylor suggests this year’s SMU team isn’t nearly as good as last year’s 8-5 squad.

Keys for Texas A&M:  Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel opened a lot of eyes around the SEC last week, but once Florida stopped rushing him and stopped opening up escape routes for him, Kevin Sumlin’s offense sputtered.  We know A&M’s going to throw the ball, but the Aggies will need to start cranking up that deep backfield we’ve heard so much about as they prepare for more SEC foes down the line.  Or else they could relive the Florida loss time and again.

Pick:  Texas A&M 31, SMU 14

Alabama at Arkansas

3:30pm ET on CBS

Opening Line:  ALA -13

Current Line:  ALA -20

Storylines:  This was supposed to be the week for an Arkansas breakthrough.  Then Bobby Petrino did his thing.  Then Tyler Wilson got hurt.  And then came an upset loss to Louisiana-Monroe.  Wilson reportedly won’t play tomorrow, so John L. Smith will hang his coaching hopes on backups Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell.  Facing Bama’s defense won’t be easy and Allen struggled against ULM.  As for the Crimson Tide, well, just keep on keeping on.  It’s about the “process,” doncha know?

Keys for Alabama:  Bama’s offensive line gave up sacks and couldn’t get the ground game going against Western Kentucky last week.  Turns out, WKU coaches knew if a run or pass was coming thanks to O-lineman DJ Fluker’s stance.  If that’s been corrected this week, it’s doubtful an Arkansas defense that’s given up 58 points and 872 yards to ULM and Jacksonville State will slow AJ McCarron and crew.

Keys for Arkansas:  This isn’t hard to figure out.  First, run the football.  That will keep the Tide offense off the field and take pressure off the Hogs’ backup QBs.  Second, force turnovers.  Lots of them.  The Razorbacks will need as many short fields to work with as possible.  Third, get the crowd into the game early and hope Alabama responds poorly.  If you need a fourth key… pray.  Pray that the Razorbacks can pull as big an upset as the one ULM pulled on them last week.

Pick:  Alabama 38, Arkansas 14

Updates for both Tyler Wilson and the QB situation at Mizzou.

Florida at Tennessee

6:00pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  Pick ‘em

Current Line:  UT -3

Storylines:  ESPN’s “College GameDay” returns to Knoxville for the first time in eight seasons as the Vols hope to return to national prominence.  The game’s a hard sellout and — surprisingly — Florida returned several thousand tickets.  UT fans hungry for a return to past glory have quickly gobbled them up.  While Florida’s defense facing Tennessee’s offense might be the main storyline of the game, this one’s also about perception.  Will Muschamp and Derek Dooley are looking for respect.  Their schools are looking for respect.  The winner will get it.  The loser will have to answer a lot of questions about the future.

Keys for Florida:  Mike Gillislee needs to be healthy enough to ground and pound the Volunteers.  If he’s ok — he’s reportedly dealing with a groin issue — and if Jeff Driskel can use his mobility, Florida’s offense might be its best defense.  The Vols are likely to ring up points unless the Gators can effectively play keep away.

Keys for Tennessee:  The Volunteers have lost seven in a row to the Gators and many believe it’s now or never for UT to snap that streak.  In the last 22 years, the team that’s won the rushing battle in this matchup has won 20 times.  Well, the Vols haven’t shown that they can run consistently.  But if quarterback Tyler Bray can make good decisions, avoid turnovers, and use checkdowns and dump-offs as a de facto ground game, Tennessee could buck the trend.

Pick:  Tennessee 23, Florida 20

 

UAB at South Carolina

7:00pm ET on FSN

Opening Line:  USC -33.5

Current Line:  USC -33.5

Storylines:  Will he or won’t he?  Steve Spurrier has let UAB wonder about his starting quarterback all week.  Connor Show is clearly a better runner than passer, but he missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury.  Dylan Thompson filled in last week and threw the ball all over the yard as the Ol’ Ball Coach fired up his Wayback Machine.

Keys for South Carolina:  Whoever starts for the Cocks tomorrow will probably hand the ball off to Marcus Lattimore and Carolina’s tailbacks an awful lot.  UAB allowed 39 points, 262 yards and nearly 6 yards-per-carry in a loss to Troy in it’s opener.  Yawn.

Pick:  South Carolina 41, UAB 10

 

Arizona State at Missouri

7:00pm ET on ESPN2

Opening Line:  MU -7.5

Current Line:  MU -6

Storylines:  The Sun Devils come in 2-0 with blowout wins over Northern Arizona and Illinois.  The Tigers enter the game after losing a 41-20 contest to Georgia that only got out of hand in the game’s final half-quarter.  So how will Mizzou respond?  If they hang their heads they could wind up losing them as ASU has already amassed more than 1,000 yards of offense through two contests.  And if they look ahead to next week’s game against South Carolina, again, Missouri could come up on the short end of the stick.

Keys for Missouri:  Focus.  Last year — under a different coach — the Sun Devils bested Missouri 37-30 in overtime in the desert.  For that reason, it’s unlikely Gary Pinkel’s squad will overlook them.  Aside from winning the game, Missouri also needs to have some good luck on the injury front.  With each passing week the Tigers are having to shuffle their offensive line a bit more and a bit more.  MU needs an injury-free day up front.

Pick:  Missouri 30, Arizona State 27

 

Mississippi State at Troy

7:00pm ET on ESPN3 (internet only)

Opening Line:  MSU -13

Current Line:  MSU -16

Storylines:  MSU is coming off what it hopes will be a groundbreaking win over Auburn.  Instead of sitting at the bottom of the West Division standings after Week One, the Bulldogs are up on top.  So how seriously will they take a bus trip to Troy?  A game that won’t even be televised?  The Trojans lost to Louisiana-Lafayette last week and have dropped 10 of their past 14 games overall.  And State’s players have had to listen all week to rumors and rumblings regarding NCAA investigations and potential violations.

Keys for Mississippi State:  The first key is the same as Missouri’s above — focus.  Tyler Russell and his veteran receivers can provide plenty of aerial fireworks and LaDarius Perkins can keep the Trojans honest with his work on the ground.  The Bulldog defense has already forced eight turnovers on the year to boot.  If State’s players have their heads on straight, they should coast.

Pick:  Mississippi State 34, Troy 14

 

Western Kentucky at Kentucky

7:00pm ET on ESPNU

Opening Line:  UK -4.5

Current Line:  UK -7

Storylines:  Where’s the D?  Kentucky’s offense is looking healthy again after a disastrous 2011 campaign, but Rick Minter’s defense has been so porous — UK ranks #96 nationally in rushing defense — that there were reports of bickering between the D-coordinator and head coach Joker Phillips this week.  Western Kentucky hung with Alabama better than expected last week and they battled UK to a 14-3 defeat last year.  The time is now for Kentucky’s defense to show improvement.

Keys for Kentucky:  But since UK’s defense can’t exactly be counted on, Maxwell Smith and the Cats’ up-tempo, air-it-out offense need to hit WKU early and often.  Kentucky ranks #18 in the nation in passing offense, but the Hilltoppers rank #7 in pass defense.  Pass the ball effectively… win the game.

Pick:  Kentucky 31, Western Kentucky 17

 

Florida Atlantic at Georgia

7:30pm ET on CSS

Opening Line:  UGA -44.5

Current Line:  UGA -42.5

Storylines:  Face it.  This should be a tune-up game for the Dawgs who are coming off an impressive showing at Missouri last week.  UGA will also get two more defenders back this week — Chase Vasser and Sanders Commings — and that’s not a good thing for FAU.

Keys for Georgia:  End this one early, keep players healthy, and spend time getting guys like freshman running back Todd Gurley more experience.  Other than that?  Zzzzzzzzzz.

Pick:  Georgia 48, Florida Atlantic 10

 

Idaho at LSU

8:00pm ET on Pay-per-view

Opening Line:  LSU -43.5

Current Line:  LSU -42.5

Storylines:  Another snoozer.  And after LSU’s 41-3 shellacking of fellow Northwest foe Washington last week, the Vandals from Idaho would appear to have little hope of even keeping this game close.  With a victory, the Tigers will set the FBS record for the longest non-conference regular-season winning streak… dating back to 2002.  LSU will also be going for its 20th straight home win which would set a school record.

Keys for LSU:  Les Miles says he wants Zach Mettenberger to keep growing as a down-the-field passer.  Tomorrow night should provide him a scrimmage-like opportunity to hone his skills.  As we say in all of these games — and as Arkansas and Tyler Wilson proved last week — the main key is to just keep everyone healthy.

Pick:  LSU 51, Idaho 7

 

Texas at Ole Miss

9:15pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  UT -13.5

Current Line:  UT -10

Storylines:  Hugh Freeze and juco quarterback Bo Wallace versus ex-Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.  The Rebels knocked off Central Arkansas in their opener and then had a surprisingly easy time with UTEP last week.  Texas-Austin figures to be a tougher test.

Keys for Ole Miss:  Protect Wallace.  Texas’ attacking defense loves to put pressure on the quarterback and there’s no debating the fact that UM’s offense starts and ends with Wallace.  UM would love to get a ground game going in order to keep the Longhorns’ offense off the field, but Freeze runs a quick-strike system.  The Rebels want points, but here’s guessing they’d rather control the clock than get into a track meet with a balanced Texas team that’s rushed for 426 yards through two games and passed for 441.  Another key — and it’s always a key for the underdog — win the turnover battle.  If Ole Miss can’t win the turnover margin, it’s hard to picture them pulling a major upset tomorrow.

Pick:  Texas 37, Ole Miss 21

 


6 comments
BillRauhuff
BillRauhuff

Welcome to the SEC Missouri and Texas A&M . I am a Tennessee Volunteer and look forward to Missouri coming to Knoxville on Nov 10th. It should be a great close game. By the way I love both of your uniforms

 

YLHMIZ
YLHMIZ

Hearing reports out of Columbia (west) that James Franklin may be a gametime decision for Mizzou.

That does not thrill me.

sec_fan
sec_fan

Vanderbilt should have started with this game. This will be a good chance to get to run on all cylinders.It is Jordan Rogers best chance to get in rhythm, otherwise this may be his last start.

viciousdawg
viciousdawg like.author.displayName 1 Like

I hope Mizzou wins this week. What a great first game in the SEC for them. They may have lost but they never quit. This is one Georgia dawg fan that's glad Mizzou and A&M joined our great conference. The fans of mizzou showed all the Georgia fans what sportsmanship was last week. Too bad Mr. SEC never told their readers about the ad the Mizzou fans took out after last weeks game.

mb6783
mb6783

You forgot to mention that one of the storylines in the USC-UAB games is its Steve Spurrier's first try at his 200th win. A pretty big milestone for the Head Ball Coach. Not Old Ball Coach. He does not like to be called Old. Love the site, Keep up the great work.

 

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

Excellent write-up. I really look forward to Friday and these summaries. I am in agreement with all your win/losses. The only 2 games I would bet differently (based on your projected scores) are: 1. Missouri (I would pick Missouri and give the points) and 2. Old Miss (I would pick Old Miss and get the points). We should have fantastic weather Saturday night in Columbia and I hope everyone has great weather. Go Mizzou!

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