What to watch in the SEC, Week 3


Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Week No. 3 in the SEC is highlighted by a pair of conference games, two top 10 teams going on the road as solid favorites. No. 2-ranked Georgia plays at South Carolina, while No. 9-ranked Auburn plays at Mississippi State. Is Georgia as good as it's looked the first two weeks? And is Chris Todd the answer at quarterback for Auburn? We start to better answer those questions and more this week. The one change to the schedule is that Arkansas and Texas postponed their game until Sept. 27 because of Hurricane Ike. Florida is off this week before taking on Tennessee in Knoxville on Sept. 20, which isn't good news for the Vols. Florida coach Urban Meyer is 24-3 during his head-coaching career when he has more than a week to prepare for a game. He's 1-0 when he kicks a field goal with 25 seconds remaining in a three-touchdown game to rub Miami's noses in it. Here's a look at what to watch for around the league this Saturday:

1. Garcia's debut: After all the anticipation, all the arrests and all the angst, we finally get to see this weekend if Stephen Garcia can play. The Head Ball Coach says he's probably going to give Garcia a shot against No. 2-ranked Georgia. It's not the ideal setting to be taking your first college snap, but the Gamecocks are pretty desperate right now on offense.

2. Dogs on the road: Georgia's had it on cruise control the first two weeks with easy victories over outmanned foes at home. Now comes the fun part. The next two games are on the road, this Saturday at South Carolina and then next Saturday at No. 13-ranked Arizona State. The Bulldogs were shaky in their first three road games a year ago.

3. Moving on up: Depending on what happens out in Los Angeles this weekend and a few other locales around the country, the SEC could have four of the top seven or eight nationally ranked teams in college football by the time next Monday rolls around. Anybody taking any bets that one of those teams winds up in the BCS national championship game for a fourth time in the last six years?

4. Show your gold: Here Vanderbilt is again, knocking on the door of what could potentially be a really successful season. The Commodores can go to 3-0 by holding serve at home and knocking off Rice, which would set up a huge game for them next week at Ole Miss. The only problem with that is this is just the type of game the Commodores have lost over the years when it looked like they were about to break through. Then again, maybe this really is the "New Vanderbilt."

5. Snead's a treat: Do yourself a favor and go watch Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead play. Granted, Arkansas' Casey Dick put up big numbers the first two weeks, but Snead is making a strong bid as the SEC's third-best quarterback right now behind Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford. The guy's a magician on the move and at being able to locate open receivers.

6. Any rust for LSU: It's been anything but a normal first few weeks to the season for the Tigers. The defending national champions haven't played since a season-opening 41-13 win over Appalachian State and have instead spent the last two weeks cleaning up from one hurricane and wishing another one away. The good news is that they get senior defensive tackle Charles Alexander and senior place-kicker Colt David back this week.

7. Cobb or Hartline?: You wonder how much longer Kentucky coach Rich Brooks wants to keep playing two quarterbacks. He really likes what true freshman Randall Cobb brings to the offense with his ability to scramble and make things happen when a play isn't perfectly blocked, but Brooks also isn't ready to give up on Mike Hartline. He can't afford to. There's too much season left.

8. Crompton's maturation: In the worst way, Tennessee needs junior quarterback Jonathan Crompton to have some success this Saturday against UAB. It's been two weeks since his rocky outing against UCLA, so this is a chance to build a little momentum heading into the Florida game. More important than Crompton believing he can beat the Gators is everybody around him believing he can beat the Gators.

9. Mississippi State pride: The Bulldogs' pride was bruised in that season-opening loss at Louisiana Tech. This is a football team that genuinely believed it would be competing for the Western Division crown this season. Here's a chance at home against No. 9-ranked Auburn to show what Sylvester Croom has been saying for the last week, that this team still has plenty of fight left in it.

10. Crimson and clover: It's a hard call as to whether Alabama was more impressive in its season-opening mauling of Clemson or more disappointing last week in its lackluster win over Tulane, a game that saw the Tide muster just 37 yards of total offense in the first half. That was Bad Bama. Nick Saban will make sure it's Good Bama that reappears this weekend against Western Kentucky.