We made it through week two of the SEC season, but along the way we got a couple of nail biters in Georgia/South Carolina and Auburn/Mississippi State. If those two games are any indication of how competitive the SEC will be this year then we better make sure our chin straps are on tight.
I went 8-2 against another pretty easy week of SEC Predictions (I missed Vandy/UConn) and Mississippi State/Auburn so that brings me to 16-4 on the season but that really sounds a lot better than it is. Sitting in with me this week on our weekly SEC Predictions is our Alabama guy, Jay, as he has decided to spare us from a detailed break-down of the upcoming Alabama/North Texas game. I will do that for him right now...SQUASH!
Now onto this weeks predictions...
LSU (2-0) at Mississippi State (1-1), Thursday, 8 PM EST, ESPN
Jay: There's some upset potential here, with MSU getting their chance to turn on the home underdog magic that bit them on Saturday, but I think it's going to be extremely difficult for the Bulldogs to regroup and put forth a strong enough effort for 60 minutes to topple LSU just five days after that gut-wrenching loss at Auburn. It definitely doesn't help their cause that LSU essentially got a week off to prepare for this trip.
LSU 31 Miss St 17
Kevin: Both of these teams have already burned me once. I had Oregon over LSU and Miss State over Auburn. I riding shotgun with the Mad Hatter in this one. Miss State will probably go into half-time with a lead but it's LSU that will come out on top.
LSU 28 Miss St 24
Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0), Noon EST, ABC
Jay: Make sure your TV is dialed into this one bright and early Saturday morning. For the third Saturday in a row, Auburn is going to kick off the festivities, and at this point, there's no reason to expect anything less than another high-scoring shootout to start your day off proper. And another Auburn win. Clemson has struggled mightily in the early going against Troy and Wofford, so while the game will likely trick you into thinking the ACC's Tigers can pull out the win, they really can't. Malzahn continues to save the day.
Auburn 38, Clemson 31
Kevin: In terms of must-see TV, Auburn has delivered twice this year. More importantly they have come up big in crunch time twice in a row. This team might not be the best all-around team but they know how to win and that's something that Dabo Swinney and Clemson haven't mastered yet.
Auburn 35 Clemson 24
Ole Miss (1-1) at Vanderbilt (2-0), 12:21 PM EST, SEC Network
Jay: It's difficult to imagine Vandy managing to have sustained success against any SEC rival, but there it is: The Commodores have won 4 of the last 6 against Ole Miss, including going 2-1 against Houston Nutt thus far. Unless Nutt has been hiding an ace up his sleeve since he benched Barry Brunetti in the opener, that mark is going to improve to 3-1. Zack Stoudt has done nothing to impress me thus far, and Jeff Scott is not Dexter McCluster, no matter how hard they try to force him into that role. Of course, Vandy is no great shakes either, but they have real momentum on their side coming off a home win over UConn. The James Franklin Bubble should float on for another week.
Vanderbilt 20, Ole Miss 17
Kevin: Vanderbilt surprised me last week by beating UConn. I realize UConn isn't poised to be a Big East power this year but Vandy lost both of their key out-of-conference games las year so it's a step in the right direction. Ole Miss's offense was in all kinds of a funk against BYU and I just have this funny feeling that Ole Miss is heading for another disaster of a season and losing to Vandy would sure set them down that path.
Vanderbilt 24 Ole Miss 14
Coastal Carolina (2-0) at Georgia (0-2), 1 PM EST, PPV/ESPN 3
Jay: I can't imagine UGA being any more motivated to dominate this game than they should be right now. If they come out and sleepwalk through an uninspiring 34-13 type of win where it's actually kinda close for a bit, there are real problems in Athens. But I'm trying to think the best of them here. Now, I'd hate to step on any of the fine comedic material that I'm certain has been tossing about Kevin's head all week, so I'll just say this: I expect Georgia to be Dawgs in this one.
Georgia 55, Coastal Carolina 9
Kevin: Georgia has played the toughest schedule in the Nation and came up short in both games. Both sides of the football showed a large improvement from week one to week two but it was Special Teams and untimely turnovers that did the Dawgs in. Georgia rolls in this one. Keep an eye on Malcolm Mitchell and Isaiah Crowell if you get a chance to catch this one.
Georgia 48 Coastal Carolina 7
Tennessee (2-0) at Florida (2-0), 3:30 PM EST, CBS
Jay: Maybe the toughest call of the week here. The Vols' offense has looked impressive so far, but has done so against defenses that didn't provide much of a challenge. Likewise, the Gator defense has been lights out through 2 games, but also hasn't been tested by an offense that could compete with SEC athletes. But it's worth noting that, despite holding opponents to just 3 total points, the Florida D has only recorded 2 sacks. If they can't get better pressure on Tyler Bray this week, their young secondary will have problems covering Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. And if Bray & Co. are getting in the endzone, it falls on Jeff Brantley to keep up. But Brantley hasn't shown himself to be any more effective at getting the Gators into the endzone consistently in 2011, even against mid-major competition. Field goals won't beat Tennessee when their passing game is clicking. Talk of Derek Dooley being another Second Year Sensation will be coming out of Knoxville if he pulls this one off.
Tennessee 28, Florida 27
Kevin: This game is going to be the subject of my "Big Game Preview" that will be up on Friday so I will abstain making a prediction until that preview is posted.
Navy (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0), 6 PM EST, ESPN 2
Jay: HERE is your upset special in the SEC this week. We've got South Carolina, coming off a big, hard-fought road win over a major conference rival where they didn't really outplay the other team but got a lot of breaks, returning home to face those stalwart Midshipmen, who run that difficult to prepare for flex bone option attack. Navy presents an offensive challenge that is tailor-made to trip up a team that's not up for them, which the Gamecocks very well could not be. Obviously, the speed of an SEC defense will naturally cancel out some of Navy's effectiveness, but SC has one of the wildest, least disciplined defenses in the conference. They prefer making big plays over making a sound play every down, and Navy will prey on that. Of course, they'll have to win a shootout because they're no match for guys like Lattimore and Jeffery, athletically, and they'll need a few breaks to go their way...but they could do it. And what the heck. It's my first week sitting in on the picks, so I'll BE BOLD in an attempt to establish my Smartest Guy In The Room bonafides right off the bat.
Navy 38, South Carolina 35
Kevin: When I saw this game on the schedule this off-season I definitely thought this one had "upset" potential. Add to that the fact that the South Carolina defense (outside of two fantastic plays on defense) was really bad last week. Navy will give South Carolina all kinds of fits in this game but it will be South Carolina that somehow comes out on top again for the third straight week.
South Carolina 38 Navy 28
Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0), 7 PM EST, ESPNU
Jay: Who IS the least pitiful BCS conference team in the Bluegrass State? I'm leaning towards Kentucky, since they at least have managed to stay in the win column despite their troubles. The Cards' Will Stein has been a more efficient passer than UK's Morgan Newton, but Newton has twice proven that no matter how poorly he plays to start the game, he can make winning plays when it counts. That's something Stein didn't do against FIU, but also something Louisville needs him to do because of their struggling run game. Until he proves he can, it's going to be tough for UL to win.
Kentucky 23, Louisville 16
Kevin: I can't think of a game I would rather watch less than this one in the SEC this week and I can't seem to find it. Both of these two teams have looked really rough so far this year. Louisville got taken out by the Sun Belt last week and Kentucky had to fight and claw to beat Western Kentucky in week one. I'm taking Kentucky here by a last second jumper.
Kentucky 17 Louisville 14
North Texas (0-2) at Alabama (2-0), 7:30 PM EST, Fox Sports South
Jay: I'm skipping doing a full Unsolicited Advice write-up for this snoozer, so consider this your preview: The only drama in this one will be about how Phillip Sims responds to his poor performance in the opener. Beyond that, DVR the game and watch FSU/Oklahoma instead. Barring another turnover-heavy outing, this is going to be one of those games where Saban clears the bench and starts running up the middle early to keep from embarrassing the visitors...but still ends up running up the score anyway.
Alabama 52, North Texas 6
Kevin: What he said.
Alabama 45 North Texas 0
Troy (0-1) at Arkansas (2-0), 7:30 PM EST, CSS/ESPN 3
Jay: Troy is one of the better mid-major programs out there, and the Trojans put a scare into Clemson in Week 1. But the Razorback offense already appears to be clicking at a high level, even without much of a contribution from the great Greg Childs through the first 2 games. Troy isn't going to get the benefit of a team mucking around with a new scheme this week. Although it is worth noting that the last two times the Trojans have visited Fayetteville, they have scored at least 20 points. So maybe bet the over (whatever that is, degenerate gamblers).
Arkansas 52, Troy 20
Kevin: If Troy can't beat Clemson, they aren't going to beat the Fighting Petrino's. Troy could make a game of this early, but in the end it will be Arkansas in a run-away.
Arkansas 48 Troy 24