SEC Football Week 2 Picks

With the strangeness of playing an opening game in Seattle behind them, LSU can focus on the normal – home opener and SEC opener this weekend against Vandy. Hopefully normalcy will do this team good after a so-so opener.

It’s too early in the season for stats to mean much, so I’ll try not to get down on the numbers. But LSU gave up 478 yards of offense on the same day Vandy gained 620 yards. If that were a believable indicator, we’d be in trouble. Vandy, though, was playing a team called the Catamounts and LSU drew Washington on the road. I shall dismiss math for now.

What’s clear, though, is that LSU has to stop Vandy’s running game, which totaled 433 yards last week. That was, however, on 70 carries, which gave the ‘Dores a 6.1 per-carry average. Florida averaged 11.2 yards per carry against their patsy; Tennessee 8.6. On the Vandy scale, it was a hell of a day. On the SEC v. Patsy scale, we’ll call it a good day. LSU gave up 4.1 yards per carry to Washington’s run game.

So I’ll give Vandy the benefit of the doubt and say they’ll have a good day on the ground, but not much beyond that. We might not like the ultimate Tiger defensive numbers, but at worst should be able to contain Vandy enough to draw field goal attempts instead of touchdowns.

On offense, not much at all can be gleaned from Week 1. Vandy shut out their patsy and gave up just 115 yards, but big deal. Again – Vandy standards; that’s fantastic. And LSU showed it has tools, but didn’t have to press the full offense into service. And we have a lot we haven’t shown (i.e. Russell Shepard if needed). I think we’ll test different aspects of our ground game; play a pretty standard passing attack and save the plays marked “for Georgia and Florida” unless we really need them.

Ugly, or dominant? Hard to say. I’m going to go somewhere in between.

LSU 31 – 15

Elsewhere in the SEC:

South Carolina at No. 21 Georgia. If I know anything, it’s that this game never goes down like people expect. Both teams showed a real lack of offense last week, but I’ll say I’m more impressed with the defensive performance Georgia put in. Yes, South Carolina shut down N.C. State … but that was N.C. State. Believe the hype about Oklahoma State and you have to be impressed with holding them to 24 points and 307 yards at home and with three turnovers. But chances are this will be an ugly game.

Georgia 10 – 9

UCLA at Tennessee. A pretty intriguing game for unranked teams. The sidelines will be a USC reunion with Kiffin, Chow and Orgeron on duty. There’s also the overtime UCLA win last year in Pasadena and the Vols’ not-great home opener in 2007 against the Pac-10 (Cal) for Tennessee fans to stew about. And the Vols and Bruins both need a win in this game to position themselves against their conference powerhouses (Florida and USC) heading into conference play. For the Vols, this game will set the tone for the Gators showdown next week. A blowout of UCLA might actually get Gator fans concerned and would create a frenzy among Vols fans. Patsy comparisons favor Tennessee, as does the motivation.

Vols 45 – 20

Mississippi State at Auburn. It’s hard to ignore that 13-10 score for the first half of Auburn’s opener against La. Tech. And by recent MSU standards, 45-7 against Jackson State with 410 yards of offense is impressive. Two new coaches, uncertainly in both programs. But at home, I have to give the edge to Auburn.

War Eagles 16 – 14

Troy at No. 1 Florida. Bowling Green got 339 yards in the air against Troy last week. Troy managed to gain just 289 yards. That’s really all you need to know.

Gators 63 – 10

Florida International at No. 4 Alabama. Like the directional schools, when you see a team with “Florida” and some other random word in their name on a schedule, you have to check and see if it’s one of those schools others need to worry about. Nope, this isn’t one of those. No disgraced would-be Notre Dame coach, no legendary old man in a tie, no dominance of a weak BCS conference.

Bama 52 – 3

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