As I got up this morning to go into work, I was surprised when I walked out the door to my house. It actually felt… well, not as hot as the past few Saturdays. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t freezing cold and I didn’t have to go inside and get a pullover or anything, but the temperature was definitely a tad bit cooler than it had been. It made me think, man, maybe we’re only a few weeks away from so-called “football weather”. How cool would that be? Pun intended.
Anyway, let’s dive right into the matchups around the Southeastern Conference for Week Two!
We start in Austin, Texas as the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide take on a future SEC member, the University of Texas Longhorns. This game has been built up as a marquee matchup as a battle of preseason Heisman Trophy hopefuls, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Texas running back Bijan Robinson. All eyes (not just the ones from Texas) will be on this game, as it is the site of ESPN College Football Gameday and going to be broadcast on national television. The Crimson Tide are three touchdown favorites and it looks like the odds makers may be right on this one. No offense to the ‘Horns, but Alabama, well, they didn’t get to be the number one team in the country by mistake. Texas may have Robinson but also have a freshman starting quarterback, Quinn Ewers, and two freshmen on the offensive line. Last year’s Bronko Nagurski Award winner (and also Heisman hopeful) Will Anderson will take advantage of that mismatch and I believe Bama rolls in this one.
Also on national television is another non-conference matchup between the number 17 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers hosting the number 24 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Oddly enough, the Panthers are listed as six point underdogs in this game. At home. A bit of random trivia, the Volunteers are the first SEC team to ever visit Pittsburgh. The odds makers don’t seem to have a lot of faith in Pitt, even though they are coming off a season opening victory over their arch-rival, West Virginia, in week one and actually beat the Vols in Knoxville last fall. Tennessee opened the 2022 season with a complete dismantling of an overmatched Ball State, 59-10. The big difference between last year’s game at Neyland Stadium and this one at Acrisure Stadium (off-topic, but what kind of name is that?) is who is under center for the Panthers, Southern Cal transfer Kedon Slovis. Slovis overcame a slow start against the Mountaineers last week and should be better this afternoon. As for Tennessee, they are led by sixth-year senior Hendon Hooker and their high tempo offense. I truly think this game has a chance to be a barnburner. If I had to pick a winner, I think the experience of the Volunteers will help them chalk up a big non-conference win on the road here.
The other game on the slate for today that has the potential to be game of the week, at least in the SEC, is the top 25 matchup of number 20 Kentucky and number 12 Florida under the lights of the Swamp in Gainesville. Last week, Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson dazzled in Florida’s upset of the number seven ranked Utah Utes. Richardson threw for 168 yards and ran for 106 more and three touchdowns against the Utes, leading his team to victory and catapulting his team into this week’s AP Top 25 poll. This week, the Gators have a chance to proof that their three point victory over Utah was no fluke as they take on the Wildcats to open SEC play tonight. Last year, Kentucky edged out the Gators in a 20-13 win in Lexington. Last week, Kentucky’s Will Levis, was on point for UK as the Wildcats beat Miami of Ohio, 37-13. Levis threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns against the Redhawks, but Florida is no Miami of Ohio. Another bit of trivia, this is just the fourth time in 73 meetings between the two schools that both teams are ranked. The Gators won two of those matchups, in 1998 and 2007, while Kentucky’s win was back in 1950. I don’t think we’re going to back to the days of the sock hops and Danny and the Juniors any time soon. Florida chomps down on Levis and the Wildcats in this one.
The other games on the agenda for week two in the SEC include:
South Carolina at #16 Arkansas
#23 Wake Forest at Vanderbilt
Missouri at Kansas State
Appalachian State at #6 Texas A&M
Samford at #2 Georgia
Central Arkansas at #22 Ole Miss
San Jose State at Auburn
Southern at LSU
Mississippi State at Arizona
Yes, I know. I just left LSU in the rundown of the other SEC teams without batting an eye. I really don’t have much to say about the game that hasn’t already been said. This game has gotten so much attention from the local media that there’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said. As everyone knows, the Tigers are looking for their first victory with new head coach Brian Kelly and these two schools, located only mere miles apart from each other in Baton Rouge, have never played each other. The game will be a financial win for the Jaguars, who will receive a $700,000 payday to come into Tiger Stadium and face the Tigers, who are still smarting after last week’s disappointing loss to Florida State. LSU has won thirty-four consecutive games against in-state opponents. After tonight, you can make that thirty-five. Southern will keep it competitive in the beginning, but ultimately, LSU will come out ahead in the end.
My prediction: LSU – 42, Southern – 17.