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Thursday, September 4, 2008
South Carolina goes to 2-0, but it's not easy


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Hey, it was just the opening weekend. My timing wasn't down. The speed of the game was something I still have to get accustomed to, and you always make the most improvement from your first game to your second game. So I'm not sweating my 8-4 start to the season in picking games. For the record, the games I missed last week were Alabama-Clemson, Louisiana Tech-Mississippi State, Kentucky-Louisville and Tennessee-UCLA. Go ahead and give it to me Bama fans. I woefully underestimated your team. And Tennessee fans, what in the name of Hades was that out on the West Coast? That was a middle-of-the-road Pac-10 team ravaged by injuries and playing with its third-string quarterback that beat you. That said, here are my picks for Week 2, and I don't see any trap games on the schedule:

THURSDAY

South Carolina 21, Vanderbilt 13: The Commodores are a different team when Chris Nickson's healthy, so this isn't a good time to be getting them. Chris Smelley will get his chance at quarterback for the Gamecocks, who will survive thanks to their improved defense. Any chance Stephen Garcia gets into the game for South Carolina?

SATURDAY

Auburn 35, Southern Miss 10: This much we know about the Tigers: They better pump some life into that passing game if they're going to make a run at the SEC title. Everything else seems to be in place. Chris Todd takes his shot this weekend at proving he's the quarterback that can get the Tigers where they want to go.

Alabama 27, Tulane 7: Nick Saban's 24-hour rule has come and long gone for Alabama after its impressive thumping of Clemson in the opener. I know Saban hates to hear this, but there's got to be a natural letdown after such a resounding win. Still, the Crimson Tide will win this one going away ... and Julio will catch another touchdown.

Arkansas 27, Louisiana-Monroe 14: The Hogs played 13 freshmen in their season-opening scare against Western Illinois. When you're playing that many first-year players, there's going to be some growing pains. This might be Arkansas' last chance to win in a while when you look at what's coming up -- Texas, Alabama, Florida and Auburn. Ouch!

Kentucky 31, Norfolk State 3: The Wildcats are better than anyone (but they) could have imagined on defense, and they have the kind of limitations on offense that we haven't seen in the Bluegrass in a while. Unless something crazy happens, though, this looks like a 4-0 football team heading to Alabama on Oct. 4.

Miss. State 28, Southeast Louisiana 6: There are bad losses, and then there are bad losses that sting for a while. How quickly can the Bulldogs get over their 22-14 stinker last week against Louisiana Tech? Even more importantly, can they keep from self-destructing offensively?

Georgia 41, Central Michigan 17: Central Michigan has a Tim Tebow-like quarterback in Dan LeFevour, who became the second quarterback in FBS history (Division I-A) last season to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. He's pretty good, but the Bulldogs' defense is really good.

Wake Forest 31, Ole Miss 20: Too bad Ole Miss isn't full strength on defense. Tackle Peria Jerry might be able to give the Rebels a few snaps after missing last week, but end Greg Hardy remains sidelined. Wake Forest's Riley Skinner is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country and a completion machine. He'll be the difference in a game that's close most of the way.

Florida 45, Miami 14: The Hurricanes have won six straight in this bitter Sunshine State rivalry, but that's deceiving. The two teams have faced each other only six times since the Gators' last win in the series, 1985 at the now demolished Orange Bowl. If you like speed, this is your game. The Gators have more of it, though, and that's bad news for The U. This one won't be close.

Last week: 8-4. Season: 8-4.