College football’s long-anticipated opening weekend has come and gone. Before the SEC fan base can catch its collective breath, Week Two is on the immediate horizon, and approaching fast.
This week’s lineup doesn’t pack quite the same punch as last week’s slate, but two can’t-miss showdowns featuring SEC East contenders should provide for top-notch viewing this Saturday.
Following is a rundown of this week’s games, including predictions for the top five contests.
South Carolina at Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs may still be undefeated in SEC play, but they’ll make their home-field debut this week with a big fat loss already hanging from their belts.
Despite putting up 35 points in a road loss to Clemson, something seemed amiss about the play of highly decorated senior quarterback Aaron Murray. The Georgia offense certainly wasn’t terrible, and running back Todd Gurley was impressive, but Murray’s unit couldn’t get the job done when it counted most.
Defensively, the Bulldogs have a lot to work on before game time this week, as they’ll be challenged early and often by Steve Spurrier’s potent offense. The Gamecocks turned in a solid performance on both sides of the ball in their 27-10 triumph over North Carolina last Thursday, and they’ll be salivating at the prospect of escaping the famous hedges of Sanford Stadium with a huge conference win.
Prediction: South Carolina 30, Georgia 24
Florida at Miami
SEC contenders Alabama, Georgia, and LSU all took part in big non-conference match-ups to open the season. This week, all eyes will be on Florida, as the Gators hit the road for an out-of-conference showdown. They won’t even have to leave their own state, however, as they’ll head down to Coral Gables to square off with in-state rival Miami.
Florida’s defense was unyielding in a 24-6 win over Toledo last Saturday, but a bigger test awaits this week in the form of Miami running back Duke Johnson. If the Gators’ defense can contain Johnson, and thus put the game into the hands of Miami quarterback Stephen Morris, the Hurricanes will be hard-pressed to come away with a win.
Offensively, Florida is still looking for playmakers to fill the void left by a slew of fall camp injuries. If someone steps up to fill that role in the early going on Saturday, Miami will likely be playing catch-up all game long, which should play right into Florida coach Will Muschamp’s hands. These two offenses may go the conservative route early, but look for the scoring to pick up late.
Prediction: Florida 27, Miami 20
Western Kentucky at Tennessee
Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino is looking to run his SEC record to 2-0 this Saturday, despite the fact that he hasn’t coached an SEC team in over a year and a half. Petrino’s squad sent Kentucky back to Lexington with a black eye last week, and now the Hilltoppers are brimming with confidence as they march on Rocky Top.
First-year Volunteer coach Butch Jones got off to a nice start against Austin Peay last Saturday, but his defense will need all hands on deck to fend off Petrino’s offensive onslaught. Western Kentucky may give the Vols a scare, but Tennessee should be able to grind this one out in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, Western Kentucky 20
Arkansas State at Auburn
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn welcomes his former team to the Plains of lower Alabama this Saturday, but the reception will not be a warm one.
The Red Wolves piled up 62 points on Arkansas Pine-Bluff last week, but their defense shouldn’t pose any problems for Malzahn’s spread option this Saturday.
Prediction: Auburn 41, Arkansas State 21
UAB at LSU
When the Blazers last visited Baton Rouge in 2000, they earned perhaps the biggest win in their program’s history against first-year coach Nick Saban’s Tigers. Thirteen years after the fact, UAB is back in Death Valley again, but don’t expect the same result.
LSU will be looking to work out the kinks from last week’s big win over TCU, and the Tigers will also be getting some injured starters back in the lineup.
Prediction: LSU 44, UAB 14
Many of the remaining SEC contests this week could turn out to be laughers, as Kentucky entertains Miami (Ohio), Vanderbilt hosts Austin Peay, Toledo travels to Missouri, and Alcorn State visits Mississippi State. In addition, Texas A&M hosts Sam Houston State, and Samford visits Arkansas, while Ole Miss plays host to SE Missouri State.
Most SEC squads obviously haven’t begun to enter the heart of conference play just yet, but Week Two will still showcase two highly important contests (USC at UGA, UF at UM). There will also be some potential upsets to keep an eye out for as the 2013 season moves right along.