By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Time to preview the upcoming week in SEC football:
Massachusetts (0-2) at Vanderbilt (0-2, 0-1 SEC): If Vandy doesn’t defeat UMASS on Saturday, it would be the biggest drop off that I’ve seen from an SEC team that wasn’t related to controversy in the past 20 years.
Sure, we saw Arkansas struggle greatly with John Smith as coach after Bobby Petrino was dismissed amid scandal. Tennessee didn’t exactly light it up with Derek Dooley after Lane Kiffin left for USC. However, both of those programs were in turmoil when those coaching changes happened and arguably still trying to recover from it.
No one expected Vanderbilt to contend for the SEC East or even reach eight or nine wins this season which is something former coach James Franklin did on multiple occasions.
However, losing at home to Temple 37-7 and 41-3 in another home tilt against Ole Miss is not the way to start the season.
BTW, this isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen Vandy. I can speak as an alum and tell you that the Commodores won two games each in 2001 and 2002, which were my junior and senior years at the school. This is child’s play to the horror shows I would see as an undergrad. That still doesn’t provide comfort in seeing Vandy struggle.
Derek Mason could really use a win because after this contest, Vandy has to host South Carolina, travel to a frisky Kentucky squad and visit Georgia. An 0-6 start is possible with a loss on Saturday.
UCF (0-1) at Missouri (2-0, 0-0 SEC): Missouri has become the forgotten good team in the SEC. Whether its the Tigers’ lack of tenure in the conference, geography or some other factor, not many people are talking about Missouri as an SEC East title contender despite winning the division last year.
Matt Mauk threw for a career-high 325 yards and five touchdowns last week against Toledo and can do the same against a good Central Florida team.
The Knights are coming off of a loss to Penn State in Ireland and should be well rested.
Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at South Carolina (1-1, 0-1 SEC): The SEC game of the week has Georgia traveling to Columbia to face a Gamecocks’ squad that many of us are unsure about.
We know what to expect from the Bulldogs. Behind All-America candidate Todd Gurley, Georgia will establish the running game with a bevy of backs including Nick Marshall and freshman sensation Nick Chubb.
In Georgia’s 45-21 win over Clemson opening weekend, the Bulldog’s defense struggled in the first half but made proper adjustments in the final two quarters to secure the win.
South Carolina, particularly the defense, was downright embarrassed in its 52-28 home loss to Texas A&M. The Gamecocks rebounded last week with a 33-23 win against East Carolina but questions remain. Running back Mike Scott had 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
South Carolina has won the last four meetings.
Arkansas (1-1, 0-1 SEC) at Texas Tech (2-0): I love it when old Southwestern Conference foes face each other. Doesn’t happen enough.
This is a classic contrast in opponents. Arkansas likes to run the ball while Texas Tech throws it all over the field. If the Red Raiders go up early in this contest, it can get ugly early.
Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1) at Ole Miss (2-0, 1-0 SEC): Can Ole Miss win the SEC West? The Rebels have a veteran quarterback in Bo Wallace, elite wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell and a strong defense. Home contest against Alabama on Oct. 4 will answer that question clearer but the Rebels have been impressive so far this season taking care of business against Boise State and Vanderbilt. The Ragin Cajuns are an OK team but the Rebels shouldn’t be on upset alert.
Mississippi State (2-0, 0-0 SEC) at South Alabama (1-0): Odd matchup as the Bulldogs travel to Mobile on Saturday to face the Jaguars in the biggest game in program history.
Just went on the school’s Web site. There are going to be pep rallys downtown and bar-be-que this week and everything.
Mississippi State quarterback had the best performance of his career last week against UAB. He became the first player in MSU history to rush for 100-plus yards (18 carries, 111 yards, 1 rushing TD) and throw for at least four touchdowns in the same game in the 47-34 win. He was also just the second SEC QB (Johnny Manziel once vs.SMU) to do it since 2009.
Southern Mississippi (1-1) at Alabama (2-0, 0-0 SEC): The Jacob Coker/Blake Sims quarterback musical chairs will probably continue through this week for Alabama. As long as someone can hand the ball over to T.J. Yeldon or throw the ball to Amari Cooper, the Crimson Tide will be fine.
Louisiana-Monroe (2-0) at LSU (2-0, 0-0 SEC): Do the Warhawks have the ability to win in Baton Rogue? Probably not. Can they make it interesting into the second half? Absolutely.
Kentucky (2-0, 0-0 SEC) at Florida (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Mark Stoops takes his Wildcats down to the Swamp in the biggest game of his tenure in the Bluegrass State. Florida has a stout defense but questions on offense despite putting up 65 points on Eastern Michigan last week.
If the Wildcats can play ball control and cause a few turnovers, they can win this contest.
Tennessee (2-0, 0-0 SEC) at Oklahoma (2-0): I’ll credit Tennessee for scheduling difficult non-conference games on the road. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen the Vols play at Notre Dame, Florida State, UCLA, Oregon and others. They head to Oklahoma this week and a win would be massive for Butch Davis’ rebuilding progress in Knoxville.
Rice (0-1) at Texas A&M (2-0, 1-0 SEC): The over/under in this game is 71 points. The Aggies should get at least 50 on their own so take the over. That’s your game-betting advice for the day.