The 2010 season kicks off Thursday night. Who will stumble? Who will shine? Welcome to the first week of SEC football...
The SEC WEST
Alabama vs San Jose State
Alabama wins big, but not as big as they could. Look for Bama to be a bit reserved in this tune up game, saving the real power for next week when Penn St. comes to town. This game is not going to reveal much about Nick Saban's defending champions, but next week will.
Alabama - 45 San Jose St. - 16
Arkansas vs Tenn Tech
Look for big-time fireworks as the Arkansas offense tunes up and runs wild in this first of two gimmes. Buku points and some needed experience for the Arkansas defense. This one is going to get ugly as Petrino will run up the score.
Arkansas - 56 Tenn Tech - 10
Auburn vs Arkansas State
No surprises here as Auburn gets ready to step into SEC play next week against MSU. Chizik better take advantage of this easy week as the next three could test the Tigers. The Tigers win big and loosens up for the next three weeks.
Auburn - 42 Arkansas St. - 13
MSU vs Memphis
Look for the Bulldogs to beat the Tigers and look fairly impressive in the process. That is, if the Bulldogs aren't looking ahead to hosting Auburn next week. State could be much better than many think this year. A blow out against Memphis would be big.
MSU - 38 Memphis - 20
Ole Miss vs Jacksonville State
This is the first of three tune-up games for the Rebels. Which QB will stand out? Will the young O-line impress? A close game could spell trouble for the Rebs this year, but I look for Ole Miss to open it up. The offense should get plenty of play as the defense dominates the game. Masoli and Stanley work out some kinks and the offense starts to click.
Ole Miss - 36 Jacksonville St - 13
The SEC West Game of the Week: LSU vs North Carolina
The Tigers have only 10 returning starters coming back and an offense which was not all that explosive last year. Only 4 of those starters are on defense. Miles is under pressure and his confidence could be a little shaky to say the least, especially considering some of his blunders from last year. This is a big game for LSU right out of the gate.
North Carolina has 19 returning starters back. They had the best defense in the ACC last year and will be even better this year. Their offense was decent last year and should be better this year. They have had some distraction from the NCAA in the past weeks. The question is has that distraction sidetracked the Tar Heels.
This should be a great game. I believe that the Tar Heels will pull out a win in a hard-fought game. Playing LSU is a bigger deal the NC than playing NC is to LSU. The Tigers could be looking past the Tar Heels, and they shouldn't. LSU is thinking SEC West championship, but they better be ready to take care of business immediately. I predict the Tigers will be tested on the first weekend, and they are going to fail the test.
North Carolina - 27 LSU - 20
The SEC East
Florida vs Miami Ohio
This will be another ugly game. The Redhawks will come in intimidated from the start and will fall apart when things start to go south. Look for the gators to start out fast and cruise.
Florida - 45 Miami Ohio - 13
Georgia vs UL-Laf
The Bulldogs will use this as an extra scrimmage game before entering into a very tough four or five weeks of football. I look for GA to totally control this game while at the same time keeping the lid on the can of "whoop ass" until next week against South Carolina.
Georgia - 38 UL-Laf - 12
Kentucky vs Louisville
Kentucky is another SEC team that will be better than many people think this year. The Cats will be fired up to take their rivals to the woodshed, and that is just what they are going to do. Look for the Wildcats to make it four in a row over Louisville.
Kentucky - 34 Louisville - 21
Tennessee vs UT Martin
This could be a rough year for the Vols. They need this cake walk before the Ducks and the Gator roll into town and make orange juice out of the Big Orange. Tennessee will roll and give the fans something to feel good about before the next two weeks take the air out of their sails.
Tennessee - 38 UT Martin - 10
Vanderbilt vs Northwestern
Vandy could be the only SEC East team to chalk up a loss in the first week of play. The Commodores will be hard-pressed to beat the Wildcats, who have a real possibility of starting this season off 6-0. The beginning of 2010 could be ugly for Vandy as they play LSU and Ole Miss after the Cats.
Northwestern - 24 Vandy - 14
The SEC East Game of the Week: South Carolina vs USM
There are some that think South Carolina could be the sleeper team in the SEC East this year. With 16 returning starters, Spurrier has the best team he has had since coming to SC, and his team knows it. They are ready to show the rest of the SEC that the Gamecocks are for real, starting with their rival, the Georgia Bulldogs next week. The question may be whether SC is so ready for GA that they overlook the Conference USA Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss may not be in SC's league talent wise, but they do like to play the role of spoilers when they play teams from the SEC. The line is 14 but the Eagles have a pretty good defense and I believe that this game could be much closer than two touchdowns. If SC is looking past Southern Miss and focusing on GA, this could turn into a big-time disappointing week for the Gamecocks.
I predict that South Carolina wins, but that this is a much closer game than the SC fans would like to see. The Gamecocks better be on their game or the Eagles will do to them what the Gamecocks did to Ole Miss last year on an early Thursday night game - spoil their dream season.
South Carolina - 27 Southern Miss - 21