Two days ago, we profiled the first six games on the SEC schedule for this week. Then Poseur did a follow-up. No one pointed out that he misspelled "amok", however. Today, we go through the last six, which has perhaps the most interesting matchup of the entire first week of the season regardless of conference. And perhaps the 2nd most interesting matchup as well.
Saturday, 6:00pm Central: Memphis vs. Ole Miss, no television
This is not a bad matchup, and I'm disappointed it's not on TV. It's more exciting than Vandy vs. Miami (OH), and more exciting than MSU vs. La Tech, but oh well. We do without.
I have gone on record as saying that I think Ole Miss will be a solid team this year. Their first opportunity to embarrass me will come in this game. These two teams play every year, and Ole Miss has won the last 3, but they've always played it tough. Memphis is another of those teams that seems perpetually on the verge of being halfway decent, but never quite getting there.
This is a matchup of two teams that apparently feature rather good line play on both sides of the ball. Some of Ole Miss's better linemen will miss the game with injuries, but if this Ole Miss team is ready to step up like I think, they should discard Memphis rather easily.
Houston Nutt will get all the credit, but don't forget that Coach Orgeron put this team together personnel-wise.
Saturday, 6:00pm Central: Western Illinois at Arkansas, no television
This is the stinkiest matchup of the week, as projected cellar-dweller Arkansas takes on FCS competition, and not even particularly good FCS competition. Nothing will be learned about either.
Saturday, 6:00pm Central: Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn, no television
The storyline for this game started last year, when ULM shocked Bama in what is probably the biggest win in its history. It was simply a matter of Bama not showing up to play, as they were in the middle of an epic late-season collapse. ULM didn't really look all that good in the game. They were simply good enough to beat a team that looked like it wanted to be anywhere other than on a football field that particular day.
With ULM having beaten Bama, Auburn sets up some mild bragging rights, as they figure to easily trounce the Warhawks. If this game was to be televised, you could get an early look at Auburn's new offense, and for that matter their new defense. This is a game where they could work out the biggest and knottiest of the kinks, but the real tests come later.
Saturday, 7:00pm Central: Bama vs. Clemson, neutral site, ABC
Easily the most interesting matchup in the SEC, or rather, it's the most interesting matchup that occurs before Monday. In my opinion, a Monday college football game hardly even counts.
I'll be honest as I have been this whole offseason. I think Bama is overmatched in this game. Clemson has playmakers all over the offense, and Bama has to put together a front seven almost from scratch. I'll tell you, I wouldn't want to go against James Davis and CJ Spiller if I was starting 3 new linebackers including at least one true freshman. To make matters worse, Clemson is not strictly a running team, as they also have a quarterback and a receiver who would probably be All-SEC if they played in the SEC.
Glimmers of hope for Bama include the fact that Clemson has to break in a mostly new offensive line, but one wonders if Bama has the playmakers on the defensive line to take advantage.
In addition to its explosive offense, Clemson has a very solid defensive unit as well, if you believe CFN. While I do not always agree with CFN, in the absence of better information, I tend to go with them.
The line on this game has remained close all offseason, but unless Clemson has a brain cramp, they appear to be clearly the better team right now. It's never a good thing for the present to be highly reliant on incoming freshmen, and the pain will start here. I think if Bama wins, it would be a very big upset. I'm not saying it's impossible, but either Bama would have to be much better than I expect, Clemson much worse, or some strange confluence of events would have to combine to make this happen.
Oh, and if you want to get WAYYY too into the science of it all, check out this post at another site.
Sunday, 2:30pm Central: Kentucky at Louisville, ESPN
This matchup is not what it used to be. No wait. It really is what it used to be. It used to be a matchup of an average team against one of the worst teams in the SEC. That's exactly what it is again.
I am not a believer in Kentucky. I think they went a long way with a group of player s who were seniors last year and are now gone and all but forgotten. Andre Woodson, Jacob Tamme, Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson, and Raphael Little made up the core of Kentucky's best offense since Tim Couch was in town. Heck, these guys might have been better than that group, but they're all gone. The defense returns some starters, but is missing its best player from last year, LB Wesley Woodyard.
Louisville, for what it's worth, is coming off one of the most monumentally disappointing seasons in college football in 2007. I am only mildly interested in this matchup.
Monday, 7:00pm Central: Tennessee at UCLA, ESPN
Why is no one talking about this game? Here we have the defending SEC East champs traveling all the way to the west coast to play a pretty decent team. We have the debut of the golden boy, Rick Neuheisel, at UCLA and the hoped return to prominence for that franchise.
Tennessee is just a criminally underhyped team this year. They appear to be solid all around, and they're coming off a solid season. They have one of the best running backs on the conference and a very strong offensive line. They have good receivers and the best defensive back in the conference. No one talks about them.
I'll be watching this game to see if I'm right about Tennessee.