The second week of the season finds the Georgia Bulldogs in a must win situation. I realize they have been in this situation before and actually won the East (2011 opened 0-2), but the schedule favors South Carolina and the Dawgs need to bounce back.
The Clemson loss will quickly be forgotten with a Southeastern Conference win over a team that has beaten them three straight years. Throw in the fact that if Georgia wins the East again they could be playing for a spot in Pasadena on Dec. 7.
South Carolina has been knocking on the door the last two years under Steve Spurrier. Now they have the chance to prove they are truly one of the nation’s elite team. This is without question the game of the weekend.
South Carolina at Georgia: Jadevon Clowney is looking for a breakout game and he’s had his way with the Dawgs in his career. He has totaled three sacks, four tackles for loss and owns a critical, forced fumble two years ago. I would expect Georgia to try some hurry-up offense to potentially slow him down.
Mike Bobo’s unit put up great numbers in a loss to Clemson, but needs to clean up its protections against a better defensive line from South Carolina. This is the ninth time both the teams are ranked in the matchup with South Carolina holding a 5-3 advantage. Georgia was held to just 224 yards in the loss last season.
Key Stat: Third Down. The Dawgs were just 4-for-14 last week in the loss to Clemson while the Gamecocks did surrender 8-for-20 to North Carolina in a 27-10 win.
Florida at Miami: This rivalry has been dormant since 2008 and the Canes have had the best of it recently. Duke Johnson, the ACC Rookie of the Year, will look to become the second 100-yard rusher in the last two years against Florida’s defense (Todd Gurley, Georgia, 2012).
Florida was very efficient on the “money down” last week going 50 percent on offense and holding Toledo to 2-for-14.The Gators are 13-0 when rushing for more than 150 yards under Will Muschamp.
Miami ran for 303 yards in the season opener and Stephen Morris is the best passer in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Gators have a plus-20 turnover margin in Muschamp’s 19 wins as head coach and minus-17 in the eight losses.
Key Stat: Florida held Toledo to 50 yards rushing, the eighth lowest total in the country last week.
Tennessee has a dangerous opponent in Western Kentucky, who defeated SEC opponent Kentucky last week. The Volunteers are 7-0 all-time against the Sun Belt and have won nine consecutive home games against non-conference opponents. Rajon Neal is coming off his third 100-yard game of his career.
Kentucky looks for its first win under Mark Stoops against Miami of Ohio out of the MAC conference. Maxwell Smith will get the start and through three games last season led the SEC in passing. Eleven Wildcats made their first start last week including six on defense.
Missouri faces a dangerous Toledo team after they put up huge offensive numbers in Week 1. The Tigers are third in the nation in total offense, trailing Oregon and Texas. Missouri converted 68 percent on third down and had 33 first downs on offense. This game should move quickly with both teams providing up-tempo offenses. Keep an eye on Henry Josey and the run game that will be the key to Missouri’s success.
Texas A&M warms up for Alabama with an FCS power in Sam Houston State. Johnny Manziel will get the start and looks to add to his total of 50 career touchdowns in just 14 games. The Aggies have the longest win streak in the SEC at seven. Mike Evans has made four or more catches in 14-straight games.
Vanderbilt looks to bounce back against an outmanned Austin Peay. Expect the Commodores to get the ground game going early although they passed for 300-plus yards last week. Vandy would like to establish Wesley Tate, Brian Kimbrow and Jerron Seymour. The Dores are 15-1 all-time against FCS opponents.
Ole Miss takes on Southeast Missouri in its home opener looking to go 2-0 for the second-straight year. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Bo Wallace’s 31 completions were 11th best in the country last week. Ole Miss totaled 489 yards which was fourth best in the SEC.
LSU returns home to take on UAB in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are 25-0 in Death Valley under Les Miles against teams outside the SEC. LSU’s improved offense racked up 26 first downs against TCU. The Tigers also played eight true freshmen in the opener.
Arkansas looks to go 2-0 under Bret Bielema as they host FCS opponent Samford. The game will be played in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Razorbacks were one of eight teams in the country to rush for more than 290 yards. The Razorbacks only committed four penalties in their first game.
Mississippi State looks to even its record up at home against Alcorn State from the FCS level. Tyler Russell is doubtful, which means Dak Prescott could get the start. In the last 30 years Mississippi State has started 0-2 only three times.
Auburn takes on Gus Malzahn’s old school in Arkansas State Saturday night on the Plains. This is the second of three-straight home games for the Tigers to open the season. The Auburn defense held Washington State to just three points in the second half last week. The Tigers ran for 297 yards at over 6.6 per carry in the season opener.
This and That
I would expect Alabama to have a “good on good” padded scrimmage this week to clean up some communication on the offensive line. I also believe the ingrown toenail bothered AJ McCarron more than he let on. The key against Texas A&M will be the run game and controlling the line of scrimmage.
It’s not a great week around college football and maybe three of the better games involve the SEC. Keep an eye on the Tennessee against Western Kentucky game. If the Vols run defense can slow down the Hilltoppers who ran for over 200 yards last week, I think Butch Jones can get to 2-0.
Arkansas impressed a lot of people last week in its opening win. Not only did the Razorbacks look like a Bielema team, they performed like one. Only four penalties and a bruising run game. That was quite a quick transformation from the fun-and-gun days of Bobby Petrino.