SEC Game of the Week, South Carolina at Vanderbilt

South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt from 2011. (Photo by: Jeremy Brevard-USPresswire)

Gamedayrs, the wait is over, college football season is officially here (at least as of tomorrow). With games beginning on Thursday, lets look at the SEC Game of the Week for Week 1 of the college football season.

South Carolina at Vanderbilt (Thu.) 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

The only game matching up two SEC foes in Week 1 is South Carolina vs Vanderbilt.

No. 9 South Carolina comes into the season without much buzz compared to last season.

Head coach Steve Spurrier leads a team that is depending on an influx of old and new players.

Senior half back Marcus Lattimore is expected to be fully healed following a torn ACL, and many believe him to be a Heisman Trophy contender, if not one of the front runners. Sophomore star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will lead a defense that lost seven starters from a year ago.

South Carolina’s wide receiver position has depth on the surface with a couple of juniors and seniors spotting the roster, however, they were never forced to contribute like they will be in 2012. One key player for the Gamecocks will be freshman wide receiver Shaq Roland, who comes in as the No. 3-receiver on the depth chart, but has been great in practice. South Carolina will need someone to step up if junior quarterback Connor Shaw is to improve upon last season.

[Related: Top 10 SEC Story Lines for 2012 College Football Season]

For Vanderbilt, the key area where they might be able to exploit South Carolina, is the passing attack. The Gamecocks enter the 2012 season with a young, inexperienced secondary. Adding to South Carolina’s secondary concerns is the injury to senior corner back Akeem Auguste, who had surgery to repair a thigh muscle and is out indefinitely.

Vanderbilt came into last season full of youth and inexperience, and is looking to build upon last year’s campaign under second-year head coach James Franklin. Franklin led the young Commodores to a 6-7 record, which isn’t great, but is leaps and bounds better than the 2010 season, when Vanderbilt went 2-10.

If junior Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers can exploit South Carolina’s secondary, the Commodores might have a shot at the upset. Rodgers must improve his consistency in 2012. He showed flashes of his potential last season, and if he can put all the skills together, he might develop into a great player. Senior half back Zac Stacy will make it difficult for teams to key in on Rodgers.

South Carolina is a 7-point favorite. Expect a high scoring contest as both secondaries are unknown heading into the season. Let us know your predictions in the comments below.

To remind you of how good Stacy can be…

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