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Vince’s Vibe: Week 3 SEC Game Predictions

Here’s the schedule of SEC games this weekend (Week 3,) along with some basics on each game, my predictions and analysis.

Schedule of SEC games

Saturday, Sept. 17

Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0)

12 p.m. ET • ABC Sports

Clemson, S.C. • Clemson Memorial Stadium (81,500)

Series Record:  AU leads, 34-11-2 • Last Meeting:  Sept. 18, 2010 (AU, 27-24, OT)

Thoughts: Auburn’s offense (41.5 per) has been better than expected and the defense (36.0 per) may even be a little worse than thought entering the year. Clemson is what Clemson typically is; there’s some speed, there’s some talent and there’s some undisciplined play. Clemson is the favorite at home. Clemson and the fans want this revenge game bad. There’s the unknown of how the young Auburn team handles a hostile road environment. In the battle of the Tigers, the trust factor, especially in a close game, is with Auburn.

Winner: Auburn 38 Clemson 31

Ole Miss (1-1) at Vanderbilt (2-0)

12:21 a.m. ET • SEC Network / ESPN3.com

Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)

Series Record:  UM leads, 47-36-2 • Last Meeting:  Sept. 18, 2010 (VU, 28-14)

Thoughts: Vanderbilt’s surprising start has some people around the conference, and a few national sports writers, praising James Franklin and the job he has done. Vandy won in Oxford a year ago. Ole Miss continues to be inconsistent. Ole Miss has been flashy and impressive at times, below-average-to-bad at other times. Houston Nutt might not want to add back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt to his resume, or else his agent may be emailing that resume out looking for a gig before long. I’m taking a “show me more” approach on the Commodores. I like the Rebs to win this game.

Winner: Ole Miss 34 Vanderbilt 20

Coastal Carolina (2-0) at Georgia (0-2)

1 p.m. ET • Georgia PPV / ESPN3.com

Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)

Series Record:  First Meeting

Thoughts: Coastal is FCS school more known for its fine baseball program and different name in the Chanticleers. Surely, Georgia won’t mess around with CCU. Will it? Better not.

Winner: Georgia 49 Coastal Carolina 17

Tennessee (2-0) at Florida (2-0)

3:30 p.m. ET • CBS Sports

Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548)

Series Record:  UF leads, 21-19 • Last Meeting: Sept. 18, 2010 (UF, 31-17)

Thoughts: There is a lot more intrigue and excitement in this game now than anyone anticipated before the season began. Both teams are better on offense and defense than many thought. How much staying power any of that has is TBD. CBS’ Gary Danielson told me this week that he expects the Gators to only play six in-the-box versus the dynamic passing game of Tennessee. The Gators will dare the Vols to try and run the football against the stout Florida defensive front. Will UT’s tall receivers still make plays against the short, young Gators secondary? Will Tyler Bray have time to throw? If he does, I don’t think Florida can cover Tennessee in the passing game. How will Tennessee defend the short, wide passing game (Demps and Rainey coming out of the backfield simultaneously) of Florida under Charlie Weis? How Tennessee defends that in its base defense will be huge. Will Demps and Rainey take a UT missed tackle to the house one or more times? Both teams can make plays on special teams as well. Slight edge with home field to Florida but Bray and the young Vols won’t be intimidated.

Winner: Florida 34 Tennessee 31

Navy (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0)

6 p.m. ET • ESPN2

Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Series Record:  USC leads, 4-3 • Last Meeting:  Nov. 12, 1988 (USC, 19-7)

Thoughts: This is a dangerous game for the Gamecocks. Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo loves the SEC. He recruits the southeast, especially Tennessee and Georgia, heavily. He told me he had interest in the Vanderbilt job during their coaching search. Navy leads the nation in rushing (401 yards per game.) That triple-option offense is tough to prepare for in one week, especially coming off of SC’s first two opponents. Navy is next-to-last in the country in passing (73 yards per game.) South Carolina’s defense (110th in the nation in scoring defense, 39.5 per) has been very disappointing, especially the pass defense. That pass defense shoouldn’t be a factor versus Navy’s running offense. The whole South Carolina team, overall, has been disappointing really. This will be another week where the Gamecocks look ordinary at best but still survive. This is a very dangerous game for SC.

Winner: South Carolina 42 Navy 34

Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0)

7 p.m. ET • ESPNU

Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)

Series Record:  UK leads, 14-9 • Last Meeting:  Sept. 4, 2010 (UK, 23-16)

Thoughts: Louisville lost at home to FIU last week, becoming the first BCS conference team to lose to the Panthers. Louisville won ugly in week one. Kentucky has won even uglier both weeks. The offense in Lexington has been brutal. UK is 115th in the nation in passing. The Wildcats won’t have exciting RB Raymond Sanders for the next few weeks after knee surgery. Louisville has some athletes but can’t run the football like typical Louisville teams have been able to, and the Cardinals turn the football over too much. UK gets another unimpressive W.

Winner: Kentucky 26 Louisville 17

Troy (0-1) at Arkansas (2-0)

7:30 p.m. ET • CSS / ESPN3.com

Fayetteville, Ark. • Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)

Series Record:  UA leads, 3-0  • Last Meeting:  Nov. 14, 2009 (UA, 56-20)

Thoughts: Arkansas has been blasting its inferior opponents. Troy is better than the first two victims but this isn’t as strong of a Trojans team as years past. When’s the last time Troy was ranked 99th in the nation in total offense, regardless of how tough the competition had been? Problem is, the defense has as many holes as it usually does. Whatever the point spread ends up at, Arkansas will win by more than that.

Winner: Arkansas 52 Troy 14

North Texas (0-2) at Alabama (2-0)

7:30 p.m. ET• FS South / ESPN3.com

Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821)

Series Record:  UA leads, 3-0 • Last Meeting:  Sept. 19, 2009 (UA, 53-7)

Thoughts: Alabama appears to have settled on a quarterback in AJ McCarron. It should, because he was very impressive with his poise, accuracy and leadership in the win at Penn State. Phillip Sims will get to play plenty in this game, so it will continue to look like an open competition. North Texas is very bad defensively. If Alabama can’t dominate the line of scrimmage on offense against the Mean Green, there may be some cause for concern in Tuscaloosa.

Winner: Alabama 45 North Texas 6

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. 

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