UTEP seems to be a popular pick, I saw where Tony Barnhart picked them as well. I'm thinking the Rebs/Bears get the win at home as the Miners come out flat after their loss to OU. Sorry to hear about Chris Faulk, maybe the best offensive lineman in the conference. Tough, tough break.
Here’s your regularly-scheduled rundown of all the Week Two SEC contests. You’ll find everything from kickoff times to TV info to betting lines to our keys to each of the games.
Enjoy the games, be safe, and best of luck to your favorite school this weekend.
Auburn at Mississippi State
12:00pm ET on ESPN
Opening Line: MSU -2
Current Line: MSU -3
Storylines: State comes in 1-0 and looking to get a leg up on Auburn for once. Dan Mullen has never gotten the better of the Tigers and that’s left his Bulldogs to dig out of a hole in each of three previous seasons. As for Auburn, Gene Chizik can’t afford to start 0-2. There’s already a whisper in the wind that he might not be all he’s cracked up to be. If AU loses tomorrow, expect the Auburn messageboards to heat up.
Keys for Auburn: First, Kiehl Frazier and the Auburn passing game have to be more effective. If it’s not, MSU will simply stack the box against the run. Second, Brian VanGorder’s new defense needs to be stout against the run and tackle much, much better than it did last weekend.
Keys for Mississippi State: With a game as full-time starter now under his belt, it’s time for Tyler Russell to establish himself as a true leader. He has the weapons at wideout to move the ball against Auburn. If State can avoid turnovers, they should finally record a much-needed breakthrough win for their head coach. But if the Dogs find themselves in another tight game with Auburn late, will doubts begin to creep into their minds?
Pick: Mississippi State 20, Auburn 17
East Carolina at South Carolina
12:21pm ET on SEC Network
Opening Line: USC -23.5
Current Line: USC -21.5
Storylines: Connor Shaw’s bruised shoulder. Carolina’s passing offense was almost non-existent last week against Vanderbilt. If Shaw is ready to go — and he’ll be a gametime decision — then he and his receivers need to find some sort of rhythm. If he’s not ready to go, expect a massive dose of Marcus Lattimore.
Keys for South Carolina: As noted above — work on the passing game. If Shaw’s not available, that’s a moot point. Either way, USC’s ground game and defense should be enough to coast past ECU.
Pick: South Carolina 34, East Carolina 17
Florida at Texas A&M
3:30pm ET on ESPN
Opening Line: A&M -2.5
Current Line: A&M -1
Storylines: How ’bout that billboard in Gainesville for one? Remember how all the Aggies claimed an investigation would prove that a Texas or Baylor person was behind it? Well, besides what turned out to be a phony contract floating around on messageboards, there’s been nothing more said about who indeed paid for that bit of trash talk. But more importantly, this is A&M’s welcome to the SEC party. Will Muschamp brings what looked to be a sloppy Gator squad back to the Lone Star State where he’s sure to find a wild and raucous Kyle Field crowd. If that weren’t enough, this will also mark the beginning of the Kevin Sumlin era in College Station. Toss in the first start for redshirt freshman Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel and you’ve got more storylines than a Steven Soderbergh flick.
Keys for Florida: Brent Pease must help new starting quarterback Jeff Driskel build confidence via the coach’s play-calling. The Gators have to prove that last week’s improved running game had more to do with themselves than with their competition (Bowling Green). Defensively, you can bet Muschamp has studied Sumlin’s pass-happy system from Houston… but will that be the same offense the coach trots out tomorrow?
Keys for Texas A&M: Hard to say since we’ve never seen a Sumlin-led Aggie squad play. We’ll go with this one though — get the ground game going with a deep stable of backs to help take some of the pressure off of Manziel. First starts can be tough on QBs. They can be especially tough when the D-linemen coming after him have SEC speed and size.
Pick: Florida 20, Texas A&M 16
Western Kentucky at Alabama
3:30pm ET on SEC Network
Opening Line: UA -37
Current Line: UA -38.5
Storylines: RESPECT! Nick Saban wants you to know that WKU is a big, bad, hard-working bruiser of a football team. They’re nothing to laugh at. Don’t scoff. Scoffing isn’t part of the “process.”
Keys for: In all seriousness, keep people healthy. The #1 team in the country shouldn’t have too much trouble with a Sun Belt team so the trick will be to get the starters out as soon as possible and get reps for the backups.
Pick: Alabama 41, Western Kentucky 10
Georgia State at Tennessee
4:00pm ET on Pay-per-view
Opening Line: No Line Posted
Current Line: No Line Posted
Storylines: Will anyone attend? Vol fans are excited about a season-opening win over NC State, but spending big bucks to watch Georgia State? If the national trend holds, expect a whole bunch of empty seats at Neyland Stadium.
Keys for Tennessee: Same as Alabama. Same as so many SEC teams playing sub-par competition — just stay healthy. Working on the interior run game against living, breathing opponents wouldn’t hurt either.
Pick: Tennessee 52, Georgia State 10
UTEP at Ole Miss
7:00pm ET on FSN
Opening Line: UM -4
Current Line: UM -8
Storylines: Hugh Freeze goes for win #2 against a team that hung with Oklahoma for three quarters last weekend.
Keys for Ole Miss: Hope that Bo Wallace can continue to be a one-man wrecking crew on offense as the Rebels step up a level in competition. Also, UM’s defense absolutely must improve against the pass. Trouble is… their secondary might not be capable of improvement right now due to roster issues.
Pick: UTEP 28, Ole Miss 27
Washington at LSU
7:00pm ET on ESPN
Opening Line: LSU -22
Current Line: LSU -24
Storylines: SEC versus Pac-12. We don’t get many of those matchups (which is a shame). For LSU, a key will be finding the right replacement for injured left tackle Chris Faulk. Les Miles has listed three options, this is a good week to figure out which option works best.
Keys for LSU: As noted above, figure out the offensive line situation. Do that and the Tiger run game should be enough to put away Washington pretty early. Also, QB Zach Mettenberger needs to improve on reading defenses and getting rid of the football lest he get his clock cleaned again as happened last Saturday.
Pick: LSU 37, Washington 17
Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas at Little Rock
7:00pm ET on ESPNU
Opening Line: UA -28
Current Line: UA -30.5
Storylines: Yawn. Another ho-hum game. How many folks in Little Rock will turn out for this one?
Keys for Arkansas: Continue to round tailback Knile Davis into shape, protect Tyler Wilson and start to show some big improvements on defense. Last week’s game — another yawner — against Jacksonville State wasn’t what Razorback fans had had in mind regarding Paul Haynes’ new defense.
Pick: Arkansas 52, Louisiana-Monroe 14
Kent State at Kentucky
7:30pm ET on CSS
Opening Line: Pick ‘Em
Current Line: UK -7
Storylines: How many empty seats? How hot will Joker Phillips’ seat be after the game?
Keys for Kentucky: I’m sensing a theme here, but UK’s defense must make strides from last week’s beatdown at Louisville. If Kent State is driving for 75+ yard drives, it could be an even longer season in the Bluegrass State than anyone expected.
Pick: Kentucky 34, Kent State 20
Georgia at Missouri
7:45pm ET on ESPN2
Opening Line: UGA -3.5
Current Line: UGA -2.5
Storylines: Mizzou DT Sheldon Richardson got things rolling by claiming that Georgia plays an “old man” style of football. Georgia’s expected to be shorthanded due to suspension and the Dawgs had trouble last week with Buffalo’s mobile quarterback. Faurot Field’s fans and Gary Pinkel’s team will both be looking to make a statement. Thanks to Richardson’s pep talk, many UGA players will likely want to do the same. Like the Florida-A&M matchup, isn’t it fun to know we’re going to get a taste of something new tomorrow?
Keys for Georgia: Rush James Franklin. Hit James Franklin. But don’t let James Franklin break containment or find seams left open by rushing Bulldogs. While Georgia’s run game looked good last week, this is one for QB Aaron Murray. Shootouts usually come down to quarterbacks. Is Murray ready to lead UGA to a big win on the road?
Keys for Missouri: Stay under control emotionally. If Columbia is ever going to go batty for an SEC football game it figures tomorrow will be the day. If Georgia gets up early, Mizzou — and the Tiger fanbase — can’t allow all the air to escape from the balloon as has happened to oh so many teams playing the disrespect card over the years. A lot has been said about Missouri’s undersized — by SEC standards — defensive line. Tomorrow, that D-line must prove itself, slow Georgia’s ground attack and force Murray to try and win the game one-dimensionally.
Pick: Missouri 31, Georgia 30
Vanderbilt at Northwestern
8:00pm ET on Big Ten Network
Opening Line: VU -1.5
Current Line: VU -3.5
Storylines: The brain bowl. Northwestern is what Vanderbilt longs to be — an fine academic institution with a football program that can consistently compete in its home league. The Dores were sky high for last week’s loss at home against South Carolina. James Franklin can’t afford to start the season 0-2 or else a lot people — possibly fans and players included — might start muttering, “same old Vanderbilt.”
Keys for Vanderbilt: Close the dang deal. Franklin himself said it’s time for VU to get over the hump in a hard-fought, close ballgame. This is the chance on the road. Vandy went to Wake Forest and whipped a similar foe at the end of last season. The Commodores need Jordan Rodgers to be patient and accurate in order to escape Illinois with a victory.
Pick: Vanderbilt 24, Northwestern 21