LSU (2-0) vs. MSU (1-1)
Before the season started this game appeared to be a swing game for MSU. Now this game is a must win game for the Bulldogs. After last week’s disappointing loss to Auburn, MSU still has to play four ranked SEC teams including LSU. Having two conference losses could push the Bulldogs out of the SEC West Division race before the conference races really get started.
MSU has two starting offensive linemen that will be a game time decision. Even if both linemen suit up will their play be effective enough to open holes for Vick Ballard, the nation’s third leading rusher (150.5 yards per game)? Especially against the nation’s 12th rated total defense and a run defense that is ranked eighth in the nation only allowing 45.5 yards per game.
Mississippi State’s rushing defense is ranked 99th in the nation giving up 199.5 yards per game. Les Miles loves to run the ball and let his defense win games for him. Look for LSU to add to their 175 rushing yards per game average against the Bulldogs defense.
Prediction: LSU makes it look easy winning 28-18.
Auburn(2-0) vs. Clemson (2-0)
The last two games between Auburn and Clemson have gone into overtime with Auburn winning both meetings. Auburn won last year 27-24 and has won the last eleven meetings against Clemson.
Both teams are horrible against the run. Clemson’s defense allows an average of 218.5 rushing yards per game, good for the 107th ranked rushing defense in the nation. Not to be outdone by Clemson, Auburn is allowing 280 rushing yards per game for a ranking of 118th out of 120 NCAA FBS schools.
Clemson is averaging 206 yards rushing per game (vs. Wofford and Troy). Andre Ellington had 140 yards rushing against Auburn in last year’s meeting in Jordan-Hare Stadium and he is averaging 127 yards per game so far this season.
Clemson has won going away in both games early this season in Death Valley; the other Death Valley for those of you not familiar with football life outside of the SEC. Wofford hung tough but Clemson looked disinterested in the game.
Auburn continues to find ways to win and this will be the first real test for Clemson this year.
The offensive coordinators know each other from their head coaching days in high school. Gus Malzahn (Arkansas) was actually a mentor to Chad Morris (Texas) and recommended Morris to replace him as the offensive coordinator atTulsawhen Malzahn took the Auburn job. So there will be no surprises for either team’s offense or defense, unless either team’s defense shows up to play. Look for a high scoring shootout with whoever scores last winning.
Prediction: Auburn to keeps their mojo going winning 38-31.
Mississippi (1-1) vs. Vanderbilt (2-0)
The Ole Miss versus Vanderbilt game may seem like the least interesting game of the week in the SEC, or for the season, but there are several things to take from the outcome of this game which should be interesting for all SEC fans.
This is a match up of two programs going in two different directions. First year head coach James Franklin is selling the future while Houston Nutt is talking about winning back to back Cotton Bowls in the past. Vanderbilt is coming off a big win over Connecticut (24-21) and Ole Miss is still licking their wounds from an opening day loss to BYU; a game they had in hand until a fourth quarter Ole Miss fumble was returned for a touchdown. Houston Nutt is on the hot seat in Oxford and Vanderbilt is drawing recruiting attention not seen in Nashville in years.
If Vanderbilt’s game against the Huskies is an indication of the Commodores season, senior quarterback Larry Smith is in for a bruising 2011. Smith was sacked seven times losing 46 yards. Vanderbilt was able to get stops when they need them on defense but the offense put the defense in tough situations throughout the game. The Commodores only converted two third-down attempts in 16 tries. Smith also threw two interceptions and fumbled once in the fourth quarter which was returned for a touchdown and a go-ahead score (21-14) by Connecticut.
Both teams are anemic on offense. Vanderbilt has the 105th ranked offense in the nation averaging 284 yards per game from the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss is even worse averaging 261.5 yards per game for a FBS ranking of 111th. Neither team has an effective passing game which will make this a game of field position and three-and-outs.
Through all of the bad for the Commodores, they have won three of the last four meetings against Ole Miss. Having already tied last seasons win total and playing at home, look for Vanderbilt to give Ole Miss everything they’ve got. This could be the Commodores best chance to get a SEC victory during the 2011 season. Franklin won’t let this opportunity pass him by.
Ole Miss’ one potentially saving grace is their punt team. The Rebels average a net gain of 43.22 yards per punt which swings the field position each time they kick.
The Commodores rush defense is ranked 30th in the nation only giving up 86 yards per game. Ole Miss gives up close to double that amount (157 per game). If the game comes down to who can run the ball and who can stop the run, on paper this game favors the Commodores.
Vanderbilt wins 21-18.
Coastal Carolina (2-0) vs. Georgia (0-2)
Through the first two games of the season no other FBS team has played a tougher schedule thanGeorgia.Georgialost at home to fifth ranked Boise State (35-21) and twelfth rankedSouth Carolina (45-42). This week Georgia gets a break in their schedule and an opportunity to put a stop to their three game losing streak dating back to their 2010 Liberty Bowl loss toCentral Florida (6-10).
Georgia will have an opportunity to work on different facets of their game and hopefully rest some starters in the second half in preparation for their next game at Ole Miss.
True freshman running back Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Georgia) will make his first start of the season. Crowell rushed for 118 yards last week againstSouth Carolina.
Georgia turned the ball over three times against South Carolina which led to 21 Gamecock points.
Coastal Carolina is a FCS school stepping up a division to playGeorgia. Their first two games have been home wins against Furman (30-23) and Catawba (20-3).
Georgia takes out all of their early season frustration on the Chanticleers winning 49-3.
The 40th meeting between Tennessee and Florida promises to be a great showdown of two schools influx. What used to be one of the best college football rivalry games has lost some of its luster over the past few years… but don’t tell the die hard fans for either school.
Both teams are young with dynamic offenses looking to reestablish themselves among the college football elite. Tennessee enters the game averaging 485 total yards per game (24th in FBS) and the Gators are averaging 490 yards per game in Charlie Weis’ pro-style offense (21st in FBS).
Vols quarterback Tyler Bray is off to a blistering start to his 2011 season. Bray is averaging 349 yards passing per game (6th best in FBS) with seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Bray’s 78.46 completion percentage has to worry Gator defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
Gator quarterback John Brantley has been less spectacular but solid thus far in 2011. Brantley’s 212 yards per game (59th in FBS) is average and his one touchdown pass has to concern Gator fans. Florida has relied on a solid rushing attack that is averaging 248.5 yards per game.
Florida will get their first true test of the year on defense. Florida’s rush defense has been stingy only allowing 50.5 yards per game but against lesser competition (Florida Atlantic and UAB). Their pass defense has been equally as impressive only allowing 124 yards per game (12th ranked FBS).
Tennessee gives up 138 yards per game rushing which will be the focus of the Gator attack.
The big question forTennesseefans is: Has Charlie Weis scaled back the offense waiting for SEC play? Will we see a different John Brantley against the Vols?
Tauren Poole has not got on track yet this year. CanPoolebecome a factor against the Gators or will Bray and standout receivers Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers have to carry the Vols offense again?
It’s tough to win on the road in college football and even tougher to win at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.Floridawins their seventh straight against the Vols 24-17.
Navy (2-0) vs.South Carolina(2-0)
If you enjoy watching teams run the ball then this is the game for you. Navy leads the nation in total rushing yards (801) and rushing yards per game (400.5). Behind the efforts of sophomore standout running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolinais averaging 236.5 rushing yards per game (21st in FBS).
USC’s Marcus Lattimore (144 yards per game) and the Midshipmen’s Kriss Proctor (99.5) will be the focal points for each team’s offense. Both teams have two of the worst statistical passing offenses in college football.South Carolina (107th) gets the slight statistical edge over Navy (119th) averaging 136 yards per game to Navy’s 73.
South Carolina gives up 136 rushing yards per game. Navy gives up 172. Can either team stop the other team’s rushing attack? On third and long situations the advantage goes toSouth Carolina’s passing attack. South Carolina has also played against tougher competition (East Carolina andGeorgia) while the Midshipmen have played Delaware and Western Kentucky.
South Carolina’s size and talent should net them another win. If Navy can get a couple of early scores and stop USC early in the game, this could end up being a tight game in the fourth quarter.
South Carolinawins 35-21.
Louisville (1-1) vs.Kentucky (2-0)
Whoever said winning pretty was important didn’t get the message to Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips. But who really cares as long as you keep winning? The Wildcats hope to keep that momentum going against Cardinals.
Kentucky’s passing offense has been nonexistent with Morgan Newton under center (211 total passing yards in two games) against lesser competition (Western Kentucky and Central Michigan). UK is averaging 105.5 yards passing per game ranking them 115th in FBS. Louisville is averaging 294.5 yards per game (23rd best in FBS).
The focus points for either team will be the Cardinals’ run defense against the Wildcats rushing attack and the Wildcats pass defense against the Cardinals’ passing attack.
The Cardinals are tough against the run only allowing 2.5 yards per attempt. The Wildcats ran for 230 yards againstCentral Michigan in a rallying win (down 13-6 at halftime) last week. Kentucky is allowing 194 yards passing per game (tied for 45th in FBS).
Starting running back Raymond Sanders is out against Louisville. He had surgery on his right knee to replace a slight tear. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. True freshman Josh Clemons (Fayetteville, GA) will get the start forKentucky. Clemons ran for 124 yards against Central Michigan including an 87 yard run that gave Kentucky the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats will be without starting center Matt Smith and tackle Billy Joe Murphy again. UK will need those guys healthy for their next game against the Gators.
Kentucky finds a way to win their fifth straight against Louisville 17-14.
North Texas (0-2) vs. Alabama (2-0)
Alabamagets a tune-up game against the Mean Green before hosting Arkansas.
North Texas has lost at FIU 41-16 and at home to Houston 48-23. Alabama is coming off a big non-conference win against Penn State 27-11.
Bama should be able to rest their starters in the second half and provide quality playing time for all of their backups.
Alabama wins 49-3
Troy(0-1) vs. Arkansas (2-0)
The Razorbacks look to improve their record against Sun Belt Conference teams to 28-0 Saturday when the faceTroy.
Troy lost their opening game to Clemson 43-19 and had a bye week last week. Troyhung tough with Clemson in the first half leading 16-13 at halftime. Clemson outscored the Trojans 30-0 in the second half to earn the season opening victory.
Troyshould be Arkansas’ toughest opponent to date. Based off the Trojans first game, look for them to use a balanced attack as they ran the ball 36 times and passed 42 times against Clemson. The Trojans committed three turnovers against the Tigers losing two fumbles and throwing one interception.
The focal point for the Razorbacks will be to keep starting quarterback Tyler Wilson healthy for next week’s matchup against Alabama and to continue to make strides in the running game.
Wilson did not play in the second half against New Mexico with concussion like symptoms after a touchdown run against the Lobos. This was the second game in a row that Wilson has put himself in danger of taking an unnecessary big hit which could limit his play for the rest of the season.
Arkansasmade strides in their running game against the Lobos finishing with 259 net yards rushing; Arkansas quarterbacks accounted for 103 of those net rushing yards. Against Missouri State the Hogs only netted 102 rushing yards. Look for Bobby Petrino to look for different lineups along the offensive line that can help the Razorbacks beef up their run attack going into conference play.
Dennis Johnson is scheduled to make his first appearance of the year for the Razorbacks after battling hamstring issues during the first two games of the season. The addition of Johnson should help bolster the running attack of the Razorbacks.
Arkansasrunning back Ronnie Wingo Jr. improved his yards per carry average against the Lobos. Against New Mexico he averaged 5.9 yards per attempt after only averaging 3.5 per attempt against the Bears.
The status on Jake Bequette and Jarius Wright playing againstTroywill not be known until later in the week. Arkansas hopes they will not need either player against the Trojans and they can rest both before they start SEC play against Alabama.
Stats for Arkansas fans:
Arkansas is third in the nation in scoring offense (51.5 per game) behind Washington State and Georgia Tech.
Arkansas’ passing offense is ranked eighth in FBS averaging 368.5 yards per game.
Arkansasrush defense is ranked 33rd in the nation only allowing 89.5 yards per game.
The Razorback defense is ranked 16th in the nation in total defense.
Topics: Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Chris Relf, College Football, Florida Gators, Football, Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Jake Bequette, John Brantley, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, SEC, SEC Football, South Carolina, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, University Of Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Vick Ballard