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SEC Game Previews – 9/20/20

mrsec game previewThree weeks of the 2013 season are already history.  As we enter Week Four we bring you our weekly game preview section.  Enjoy.

And good luck to your favorite team this weekend!


Vanderbilt (1-2) vs UMass (0-3) at Foxboro, MA

TV:  12:00pm ET on ESPNews

Opening Line:  VU -36

Current Line:  VU -31.5

One To Watch:  Vanderbilt’s confidence.  The Commodores dealt with major distractions off the field as the season dawned.  They lost at home to Ole Miss.  Last week they fell to 0-2 in the SEC with a loss at South Carolina.  This has the makings of a get-well game for Vandy.

This And That:

1.  Speaking of distractions, receiver Chris Boyd was officially dismissed from the Commodore squad this week.  Also, starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels continues to be mentioned in connection with the rape case that’s already cost VU five players.  How will Carta-Samuels perform tomorrow?

2.  Massachusetts has lost it first three games by a combined total of 106-21.  They rank #124 out of 125 FBS teams in rushing defense (allowing 323.0 yards per game and 7.18 yards per carry).  Vandy ranks last in the SEC in rushing offense.  That could change tomorrow.

3.  Saturday’s game between the Dores and Minutemen will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts rather than on the UMass campus in Amherst.  It’s the first time an SEC squad has traveled to UMass for a game.

Prediction:  Vanderbilt 52, UMass 14


North Texas (2-1) at #9 Georgia (1-1)

TV:  12:21pm ET on SEC Network

Opening Line:  UGA -36.5

Current Line:  UGA -33

One To Watch:  The injury bug.  Georgia faces a major test from visiting LSU a week from tomorrow.  If the Dawgs can build a good lead, expect Mark Richt to call off his starters as early as possible.

This And That:

1.  Through two games Georgia’s defense has been porous to say the least.  UGA ranks 13th in the SEC in rush defense and 11th in pass defense.  Todd Grantham’s bunch is young and should improve.  But if Georgia is to keep its BCS title hopes alive, they’ll fix the D.  Soon.

2.  North Texas enters tomorrow’s game averaging 31.7 points per game.  Against Idaho, Ohio and Ball State — gotta keep that in mind — the Mean Green has averaged 465.0 yards per contest.  For that reason, North Texas might not be a total tomato can.

3.  As good as Georgia’s offense has been — and it’s been good — the Dawgs have struggled on third downs.  Aaron Murray and crew have converted just 10 of 28 third downs this season (35.7%), which is 12th best in the SEC.  It’s unlikely they’ll face enough third downs tomorrow to worry about it.

Prediction:  Georgia 47, North Texas 16


Tennessee (2-1) at #19 Florida (1-1)

TV:  3:30pm ET on CBS

Opening Line:  UF -15.5

Current Line:  UF -17

One To Watch:  The rushing totals.  Nineteen of the last 20 years, the team that’s collected the most rushing yards has won this game.

This And That:

1.  To snap an eight-game losing streak to Florida, Tennessee must have some sort of success through the air.  The Gators rank #3 in the nation against the run, so it’s hard to imagine the Vols accomplishing much on the ground.  Last week at Oregon, UT’s pass game was anemic.

2.  To win it’s ninth in a row against the Vols, Brent Pease’s offense will need to protect the football.  Tennessee is top o’ the league in turnover margin (plus-six) while Florida is dead last (minus-four).  If the Gators avoid the dropsies, this one should be an easy win.

3.  What will UT coach Butch Jones do at the quarterback position.  He said this week that if need be, he would use his true freshman Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.  A Swamp is no place for a baptism.

Prediction:  Florida 30, Tennessee 13


Arkansas (3-0) at Rutgers (2-1)

TV:  3:30pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  Pick

Current Line:  RU -1.5

One To Watch:  The Arkansas ground game.  The Hogs are 11th in the nation and tops in the SEC in rushing yardage (294.33 yards per game).  Rutgers ranks fifth in the country in rush defense (allowing 59.33 yards per game).  This will be UA’s first real test when it come to its rushing attack.

This And That:

1.  Arkansas might need to lean even more heavily on its ground game tomorrow.  Quarterback Brandon Allen suffered a shoulder injury last week and will be a gametime decision tomorrow.  Juco transfer AJ Derby came on in relief last Saturday, but he threw the ball just six times in more than three quarters of action.  If Derby starts expect the Scarlet Knights to try an force him to win the game through the air.

2.  RU coach Kyle Flood says he’s optimistic that his own quarterback will start tomorrow.  Gary Nova is trying to bounce back from a concussion.

3.  Rutgers running back Paul James is leading the American Athletic Conference in rushing with a 164.3 yards-per-game clip.  That puts him at #2 in the country ahead of both Arkansas stars (Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams).  With questions at quarterback and two teams that love to run the ball, expect a low-scoring slugfest.

Prediction:  Arkansas 24, Rutgers 21


SMU at #10 Texas A&M

TV:  7:00pm ET on ESPNU

Opening Line:  A&M -26.5

Current Line:  A&M -28.5

One To Watch:  The Texas A&M defense.  The Aggies have played three games and to be honest their defense hasn’t stopped much of anyone yet.  SMU head coach June Jones usually knows how to put points on the board.

This And That:

1.  SMU has been to four straight bowls under Jones, but the Mustangs lost 43-21 to Texas Tech and squeaked by Montana State of the FCS last week, 31-30.

2.  As mentioned above, A&M’s defense has struggled.  The Aggies are allowing 489.0 yards per game and it’s hard to imagine them as national championship contenders — even with QB Johnny Manziel — if they don’t fix things on Mark Snyder’s side of the ball.

3.  As a passer, Manziel has thrown 37 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.  He’s thrown for 4,690 yards in his career.  Expect to see him go past the 40 TD and 5,000-yard mark tomorrow.

Prediction:  Texas A&M 56, SMU 24


Colorado State (1-2) at #1 Alabama (2-0)

TV:  7:00pm ET on ESPN2

Opening Line:  UA -36.5

Current Line:  UA -40

One To Watch:  CSU head coach Jim McElwain.  The former Alabama offensive coordinator returns to Tuscaloosa with his own program this week.  Nick Saban is usually pretty good about taking his foot off the gas.  He’ll likely do so tomorrow with ex-aide on the other sideline.

This And That:

1.  Alabama’s offense came to life last week — more on that in a second — but the Tide’s defense was exposed.  The secondary in particular was gutted by Texas A&M for 464 passing yards.  Kirby Smart will be glad to know that there is no one like Johnny Manziel (or his receivers) on the Colorado State’s roster.

2.  Bama’s offense put up 42 points last week in College Station.  The unit registered 31 first downs and amassed 568 yards.  Tomorrow should provide more of the same as current O-coordinator Doug Nussmeier figures to direct a balanced attack.

3.  Since 2008, CSU has recorded just two wins over FBS opponents and both of those came against in-state rival Colorado.  This is Christians versus Lions type stuff.

Prediction:  Alabama 42, Colorado State 10


Troy (2-1) at Mississippi State (1-2)

TV:  7:00pm ET on FSN

Opening Line:  MSU -13

Current Line:  MSU -14

One To Watch:  State QB Tyler Russell.  Will he play?  How much will he play?  The Bulldogs have more of a run-first attitude with backup Dak Prescott in the game.  Russell’s the passer, but he’s now missed two games due to a concussion suffered in the Dogs’ season opener.

This And That:

1.  Troy is no pushover, folks.  Last season during a 5-7 campaign, the Trojans lost 30-24 to MSU and 55-48 at Tennessee.  If Larry Blakeney’s squad gets some confidence early, look out.

2.  Mississippi State has struggle mightily on third downs this season.  The Maroons have converted just 13 of 45 chances (28.8%) which ranks 13th in the SEC.  That number has to improve is the Dogs are to turn their season around.

3.  Dan Mullen has made a career of slapping around non-BCS opponents.  Of his 30 wins as Bulldogs coach, exactly half have come against teams from outside the AQ conferences.  So while Troy might give State another scare, these are the kinds of games Mullen wins.

Prediction:  Mississippi State 31, Troy 24


Auburn at #6 LSU

TV:  7:45pm ET on ESPN

Opening Line:  LSU -14

Current Line:  LSU -17

One To Watch:  Auburn QB Nick Marshall.  Gus Malzahn’s starter has made progress from Week One to Week Two to Week Three.  He looked outstanding in a last-minute drive to beat Mississippi State at Jordan-Hare Stadium last week.  This week, he won’t be facing MSU and he won’t be playing at home.

This And That:

1.  Through three contests (TCU, UAB, Kent State), John Chavis’ defense has allowed just 267.7 yards per game.  So much for being too young and too raw to dominate.  That said, Auburn’s offense figures to be a bigger test than those faced by LSU so far.

2.  When was the last time an LSU quarterback led the SEC in passer rating?  It’s been a while.  But Zach Mettenber is doing just that.  He’s off to a tremendous start to the 2013 season — 65% completions, nine touchdowns, no interceptions.  And unlike Marshall, he won’t have to overcome tens of thousands crazed, screaming Tiger fans tomorrow night.

3.  Seven times since 2000 this game has been decided by single digits.  Don’t be surprised to see Auburn hang with LSU for a while.

Prediction:  LSU 33, Auburn 17


Missouri (2-0) at Indiana (2-1)

TV:  8:00pm ET on Big Ten Network

Opening Line:  MU -5.5

Current Line:  Pick

One To Watch:  Missouri’s offense.  So far so good through two games.  The Tigers rank #2 in the SEC in rushing offense with a 265 yards-per-game average.  A healthy James Franklin is throwing for 265 per game, too.  That probably won’t change tomorrow…

This And That:

1.  Because Indiana is an up-and-down-the-field team, too.  The Hoosiers have scored 73, 35 and 42 against Indiana State (FCS), Navy, and Bowling Green respectively.  Both Indiana and Missouri run up-tempo schemes (the Tigers are the third-fastest offense in the SEC behind Texas A&M and Ole Miss this season).

2.  Keep an eye on both defensive lines.  The advantage goes to whichever pair of defensive tackles is best able to get a push into the opponent’s backfield.  To slow hurry-up, spread offenses, you’ve got to get some disruption up front.

3.  In what could be a tight shootout, watch the turnover battle.  Missouri is plus-four through two games.  Indiana is minus-two through three contests.

Prediction:  Missouri 35, Indiana 34



I would love to see Tennessee upset Florida. would love to see Tennessee win of this big games they use to win most of the time. I would love to see a Elvis Presley in his prime concert again as well. The latter is probably just about as likely as Tennessee beating Florida in the swamp. I still believe Tennessee could go 6-6 and make a minor bowl game


UT did not cover last week, bad pick.  I had a burrito for lunch too, so I am going to say UT 17-FU 14. 


Good picks but I have a feeling the UT/Gators game will be a lot closer than this (or maybe the feeling is a result of the burrito and chalupa I just had for lunch).  TGIF


@UT98BCSChamps I admire your loyalty. It seems like it's been about a decade since UT has won on the road against top 25 competition. I guess they're bound to end that streak sometime.


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