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Hopefully you've been enjoying the blog this week because we've had a lot of new content out there. We started on Monday talking about the ten SEC players that will be under the most pressure this year. We added our Big Ten and SEC Conferences Previews. We went on a podcast with Michael Felder of In The Bleachers to talk about his "Slate of Eight" games this week. We talked Montana Grizzlies football with the brand new website Grizfellas. Our friend Matt Elder came over and gave us three FCS vs FBS upsets to watch for this week (look out Duke, NC State and Virginia)! Jay brought the discussion with his "Coaching Carousel Preview" and Ross gave us his weekly "Six Pack" of predictions. It's been a busy week gearing up for the football season.

The opening slate of games on Thursday night was disappointing but Baylor/TCU set the Twitter world on fire last night with a really fun game. On Thursday there were two SEC games that happened so we obviously won't be predicting them today. Mississippi State predictably destroyed Memphis and looked good doing so. Chris Relf had over 200 yards passing with 2 TD tosses and RB Vick Ballard had 166 yards on just 10 carries with 3 TDs. In the other game Kentucky squeaked one out against Western Kentucky by the tune of 14-3. This was a game that was in doubt for a long time until Kentucky finally scored a second TD in the fourth frame. QB Morgan Newton was a scary 7 of 18 for 97 yards with just 1 TD versus 3 interceptions. Kentucky's two leading rushers combined for just 74 yards on 24 carries and 1 TD. Western Kentucky actually outgained Kentucky in this game 234 yards to 190 but turned it over 4 times versus Kentucky's 3. Now onto Saturday's predictions....

 

Utah State at Auburn, Noon, ESPN

Utah State wasn't all that great last year but they did beat BYU and they also played Oklahoma to within seven points in their opening game. Utah State returns nine starters on offense, which is more than Auburn returns on both sides of the football. That being said, Auburn just has too much talent for the Aggies. Look for Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb to have big games early as Utah State gave up 180 yards per game on the ground last year. This will give Barrett Trotter a chance to ease into the game. I would expect to see Kiehl Frazier at some point in the second half.

Auburn 38 Utah State 17

 

Kent State at Alabama, 12:20, SEC Network

Kent State didn't get totally blown off the field last year when they played Penn State and Boston College but they did get shut out by Penn State. I would expect Bama to establish Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy early and then let their QBs get some experience throwing the ball after they get the lead.

Alabama 38 Kent State 7

 

BYU at Ole Miss, 4:45, ESPN

This is a very interesting game and a big one for the future of Houston Nutt. Our Alabama guy has already put Nutt on notice so he better bring his A game this year. The issue last year for Ole Miss was defense and their penchant for giving up the big play. BYU QB Jake Heaps is now a sophomore and he grew a lot down the stretch last year and the Cougars return 10 starters on offense. Nutt doesn't have many expectations for his team this year as they are expected to finish dead last in the tough SEC West and it's that situation that usually brings the best out of Nutt and his teams. This is going to be a close one but I just can't pull the trigger on an Ole Miss win. I know it's a new season but Ole Miss only beat Tulane, Fresno, Kentucky and Louisiana (the Rajun Cajuns not the Tigers) last year. I think BYU wins a close one.

BYU 35 Ole Miss 30

 

Montana at Tennessee, 6 pm

Tennesse has some talent at the offensive skill positions with QB Tyler Bray, RB Tauren Poole, WR Justin Hunter and WR Da'Rick Rodgers and I think they will be too much for this talented FCS team. This Vols team struggled out of the gate last year and almost got caught by UAB (they survived in OT) but I don't think this one will be as much of a challenge (although it could be chippy early). I think Tennessee flexes it's offensive muscle in this game with break-out performance from Rodgers and Hunter but I also think that they give up their share of points.

Tennessee 38 Montana 24 

 

 

East Carolina vs South Carolina (Charlotte, NC), Fox Sports

This one could be wild. East Carolina likes to put up the points (averaged 36.8 points per game last year) but they also aren't very good at stopping their opponents (gave up 44 points per game). South Carolina will simply be too big and too physical up front for East Carolina and Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey should both have big games. The one match-up where East Carolina could be trouble is QB Dominique Davis (who threw for almost 4,000 yards last year and 37 TDs) against a talented Gamecocks secondary that underperformed last year. The other thing I don't like about the Gamecocks is the fact that Steve Spurrier is starting Connor Shaw. Is this a penalty for Garcia or does the Ol' Ball Coach actually think Shaw is better? This two-headed QB monster could be trouble later in the year (like it was against Auburn last year) but I don't think it's too much of an issue here.

South Carolina 48 East Carolina 31

 

 

Missouri State at Arkansas, 7 pm

In it's only FBS game last year the Bears gave up 48 to Kansas State. This one should be a blood-bath. Bobby Petrino probably leaves at half-time, but this time not for a new job just simply out of boredom. Tyler Wilson and the most talented group of receivers in the Nation roll.

Arkansas 56 Missouri 14

 

Elon at Vanderbilt, 7 pm, CSS

Elon and Vandy will both have new Head Coaches in this game. Vandy QB Larry Smith is a senior and has a couple of weapons in RB Warren Norman, RB Zac Stacy and TE Brandon Barden. In it's only game against decidedly lesser opponents last year the 'Dores won by 46 over Eastern Michigan. I think Vandy rolls in this one and ushers in some positive feelings in James Franklin's debut.

Vanderbilt 31 Elon 14

 

Florida Atlantic at Florida, 7 pm

This doesn't sound like an interesting game but to me it is one of the most interesting SEC games of the week. Last year Florida underperformed and they looked very sloppy in the first two weeks despite winning handily on the scoreboard. This year Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis roll into town and a bunch of players have packed up their bags and gotten out of dodge. How will the Urban Meyer recruits play in the Charlie Weis system? All eyes are on John Brantley to see if he can sink or swim this year as he has two talented kids behind him on the depth chart. Florida should roll in this one.

Florida 31 FAU 10 

 

 

Boise State vs Georgia (Atlanta, Ga), 8 pm, ESPN

This was our SEC Big Game feature of the week and I have a detailed preview of it up here.

 

Oregon vs LSU (Arlington, Tx), 8 pm, ABC

This is one of those games that is stirring a great debate. Some think LSU simply shows up and is just too physically dominant and athletic for Oregon to handle. I don't see that. Oregon fell short last year against Auburn in the National Championship Game but I believe Chip Kelly is the type of guy who can't stand to lose and takes it personally. Then he throws all of his time into fixing what lost him the game. Oregon losses some key starters on defense but they regularly played 26 defensive players last year because of the break-neck pace that the offense plays at. LSU's biggest chance is to just dominate the line of scrimmage, keep the ball away from the Ducks and win a close game. QB Jordan Jefferson and WR Russell Sheperd both got suspended late in the off-season and it's fresh enough that the new starters might not be fully prepared to step up and fill their shoes. There is just something that tells me to take Oregon in this one. 

Oregon 31 LSU 21