2012 College Football Week 1 Preview: Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, Auburn, Kentucky and More

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College football kicks off in less than 75 days with Vanderbilt hosting South Carolina in the SEC opener, Thursday, August 30th. There are several other games involving SEC teams on opening weekend, so it seemed only appropriate that we start analyzing the match ups and making some college football picks.

Drew Collins, senior writer for the Southern football focused web site, ChuckOliver.Net, has graciously analyzed each opening week game for us that involves an SEC team.

College Football Picks – The SEC Week # 1

Realizing that a lot could change from now until kickoff, The Saturday Edge asked Drew to base his college football picks and analysis on what we currently know about each team.

South Carolina (-9.5) at Vanderbilt

The initial thought here is to play Vandy.  Without us knowing the Week 1 status of Marcus Lattimore it is hard to be 100% certain though.  I don’t think it is fair to expect him to be at full strength only nine months after such a severe injury, however that is not the only reason I favor Vandy in this one.  South Carolina loses play-makers on both sides of the ball and is breaking in a new Defensive Coordinator. I know the transition to Lorenzo Ward should be seamless since he was on staff last year, but I just don’t see how losing Ellis Johnson doesn’t hurt the defense in some way.

Taking a look at Vandy, I expect definite improvement from QB Rodgers this year and I think that this game will be a much bigger deal to them this off-season than it will be to South Carolina.  Can you imagine James Franklin “motivating” his players for 30 straight days?  9.5 points seems like a lot here at home, a place where Vandy took Arkansas and Georgia to the wire last year.

Tennessee (-6.5) N.C. State

David Amerson vs Rodgers & Hunter, I’m sold.  I can’t wait to see these guys go head to head, it will be like watching an NFL game on a Saturday.  As for the game itself, I tend to favor the Wolfpack in this one. N.C. State brings back most of their offensive line as well as an experienced QB in Glennon.  Meanwhile Tennessee is transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, which always takes time.  Give me the Wolfpack plus 6.5 in a shootout.

Alabama (-12) Michigan

I would take Michigan right now because I see this number ending up somewhere around 10-11 by kickoff.  We all know how Alabama “reloads” but they did lose quite a bit on the defensive side of the ball.  The replacements are all top level players however they are inexperienced.

With the game being this early in the season, I really think Denard Robinson will be able to give Bama some problems.  Alabama does have the best offensive line in the country and should be able to put up enough points to win but I think 12 is a little too much right here, give me the Wolverines.

Clemson (-6) Auburn

A few years ago I made a vow to never bet on a Clemson game because they are too unpredictable.  So, I will not be playing this game myself however I do have some thoughts on it.  Clemson has a lot of flash and extreme talent at all skill positions but they are pretty weak up-front on both sides of the ball.  Usually when a team has a lot of star skill players and weak line play there is some opportunity to find value against them.

Auburn played a lot of young players last year and went through some growing pains because of it.  These kids are now all a year older and have some experience under their belts.  I see that experience paying off and Auburn winning a close game in Atlanta.

Louisville (-10) Kentucky

I had this game closer to two touchdowns before the line came out so obviously I like Louisville here.  The Cards match-up well against Kentucky especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Cards finally have depth along the defensive line which should give Kentucky fits all day.  They also have a secondary that can take advantage of this pressure up front.  On the offensive side of the ball, I think Bridgewater and Co. have a field day against this weak Kentucky defense and cover the ten by halftime.

The Saturday Edge: Without having gone in-depth with any of these teams yet, the game I like is Auburn +6. Last year a far less experienced Auburn was only a 4 point dog at Clemson. So how do the oddsmakers figure that an Auburn team returning as many as 18 starters (including 10 on defense) should now be a 6 point dog on a neutral field against a Clemson defense that allowed 70 points in their last game?

For more college football picks and analysis, join Drew on his weekly Handicapping Podcast “On the Line.”  Drew and his guests preview all the games each week in-season and look at futures throughout the off-season. You can also follow Drew on Twitter @Collinsdrew.

What are your thoughts on each of Drew’s SEC college football picks? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks – Pez.

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