SEC Football Week 1 Picks

Well hot damn. We’re about to start playing some football. Week one in the SEC features a Thursday night game, a Sunday afternoon game and an indoor game on a neutral field. The Dome Opener I can live with, but I still hate seeing the SEC’s march of acceptance of non-Saturday games.

But anyhow …

I’m curious to see how Les Miles approaches the Washington game Saturday night. Defensively, I think it’ll be a proving ground for Chavis’ game plan and our execution of it, and that’s pretty straight-forward. But offensively the temptation will be there to show the guns and make a statement. LSU fans want to see what Jordan Jefferson is really capable of, they want to see Russell Shepard get the ball, they want to see Charles Scott look like a Heisman candidate and on and on. Though Washington is at a bottom, throwing down an offensive show would be quite a statement coming off of the disaster that was 2008.

But there’s also great value in honing execution and putting fundamentals to the test in your season opener. An elite-level program like No. 9 LSU has to look at these first four games as preparation for Georgia and Florida in October. The wins will – or had better – come, so making sure the line understands run schemes and pass coverage assignments is more important than showing off Shepard. Ideally, things would be working so well that focusing on your fundamentals results in a lot of offensive production.

I think we’ll see a largely methodical effort to hone the offense with a few bones thrown to the fans by way of Wildcats, home run balls and the like. Hopefully the Tigers won’t be in a position where they have to really press the offense.

And, of course, a lot of attention will be put on how well the defense works. I really hope not to see receivers standing alone where one might expect a defensive player to also be. I got my fill of that last season, thanks.

What do I expect to see from Washington? I have no idea. They say Jake Locker is a good quarterback; the Huskies are pressing some freshmen into service and their offense should have a decidedly USC flair now. I have to assume they will be better than an 0-12 team, but certainly not quite “there” in their first game under a new coach facing a top-10 team.

LSU 38 – 17

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 7 Va. Tech: I can’t imagine any team has been more eager to get back out on the field than Alabama. The Sugar Bowl was a huge embarrassment for Fonzie and his boys, and they have a chance to erase that bad taste in a showcase game to start the season. But it’s also a huge game for Virginia Tech. A win here would give the Hokies the inside track for a BCS title game run.

Season openers between top-ranked teams are hard to put a lot of analysis against. There’s just too much that’s unproven and untested. This one could swing anywhere from a convincing win by either team to a real squeaker. I’m going to go with Bama’s motivation to set things right and Fonzie’s proven ability to make that happen.

Bama 27 – 21

No. 13 Georgia at No. 11 Oklahoma State: When Ole Miss dropped 47 points on 11-1 Texas Tech in last year’s Cotton Bowl, it brought home the notion that the Big 12 is all offense, no defense. I’m going to give Georgia the benefit of the doubt here and say that a strong SEC team should have the defense to shut down a strong Big 12 team and have a little faith that Georgia’s offense will be sufficiently strong to put numbers up. Speculation, to be sure, but I’m going with it.

Georgia 45 – 41

Charleston Southern at No. 1 Florida: Pointless to even talk about.

Gators 144 – 3

No. 10 Ole Miss at Memphis: The Rebels need a dominating performance to keep their hype going. A close game with Memphis would shatter a lot of opinions about Nutt and company. I’m going somewhere in-between.

Ole Miss 38 – 20

South Carolina at North Carolina State: I don’t really have much of a read on South Carolina and know nothing about North Carolina State. But Spurrier inspires no confidence any longer, so I’m not going to have much hope for them opening the season against a decent team on the road.

N.C. State 24 – 20

Louisiana Tech at Auburn: Oh how I would like to see Tech win this game. They are a second-tier school on an upswing going against a troubled SEC program. Would it shock me if they pulled it off? No. But I’m not going that far.

Auburn 10 – 9

Western Kentucky at Tennessee: I always have to check and see if [geographic direction] [state] is one of those schools they say people have to worry about. Apparently the school on the side of Kentucky closer to Indiana isn’t. So I guess this is a chance for Tennessee to get a little pride back.

Vols 38 – 13

Western Carolina at Vanderbilt: Catamounts!

Vandy 27 – 17

Kentucky at Miami (not Florida): I’m just ashamed that Kentucky would go play a game there.

Wildcats 28 – 10

Missouri State at Arkansas: Congratulations on losing the “Southwest” thing.

Arkansas 52 – 6

Jackson State at Mississippi State: SWAC action in Starkville to kick off the Dan Mullen era.

MSU 34 – 18

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