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Thursday, September 1, 2011
SEC predictions: Week 1

By Chris Low and Edward Aschoff

Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Upset pick

We’re used to winning football in the SEC, and we’re also used to winning picks.

If I say so myself, my record last season was pretty spiffy. Come to think of it, my record the past few seasons has been pretty spiffy.

Counting the SEC championship game, I was 79-18 (.814) last year in the regular season.

I fully expect to top that 80 percent figure again this season, but I’m going to have some competition.

My SEC blogging colleague, Edward Aschoff, joins the fray this season, and we’ll both be picking games every week.

It’s sure to be a heated race. We’ve already decided that the loser gets to call up Nick Saban on the first day of spring practice next year and ask him to break down the Crimson Tide’s depth chart and then ask him to compare his best three teams as a head coach.

Anyway, good luck Edward. Second place in the best conference in college football isn’t so bad.

On to the picks:

THURSDAY

KENTUCKY vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY

Chris’ take: This game is being played in Nashville, Tenn., and the Music City has been pretty good to the Wildcats over the years. Morgan Newton has a big game in a Kentucky rout. … Kentucky 35, Western Kentucky 13

Edward’s take: Morgan Newton and the offense start the season off right, but look for that defense to be tested in the running game. ... Kentucky 31, Western Kentucky 21


MISSISSIPPI STATE at MEMPHIS

Chris’ take: Memphis can’t be as bad as the Tigers were last season, but this should be Dan Mullen’s best team since arriving in Starkville. … Mississippi State 41, Memphis 14

Edward’s take: The Bulldogs return some solid talent on offense and it will be on full display, as Mississippi State routs Memphis to start the year. ... Mississippi State 52, Memphis 14

SATURDAY

UTAH STATE at AUBURN

Chris’ take: Try telling the Auburn players that they’re not going to be a factor in the SEC championship race this season. This is one motivated bunch on the Plains. … Auburn 31, Utah State 10

Edward’s take: Without all of those offensive playmakers from a year ago, the Tigers will struggle early, but expect a second-half revival. ... Auburn 31, Utah State 17

KENT STATE at ALABAMA

Chris’ take: Who’s the Alabama starting quarterback? Is it AJ McCarron or Phillip Sims, and does it really matter who takes the first snap? … Alabama 42, Kent State 0

Edward’s take: Alabama is just happy to finally be back on the football field. It's been a long year in Tuscaloosa and the Tide should come out firing on all cylinders. ... Alabama 56, Kent State 7

FLORIDA ATLANTIC at FLORIDA

Chris’ take: Finally, we get a glimpse of what the Gators will look like under Will Muschamp, who’s kept everything under wraps to this point. … Florida 34, Florida Atlantic 7

Edward’s take: The Gators will be very vanilla in Muschamp's coaching debut, but the goal should be fueling John Brantley's confidence. ... Florida 42, Florida Atlantic 10

MISSOURI STATE at ARKANSAS

Chris’ take: The Hogs might win as many games with their defense this season as they do with their offense. But Tyler Wilson & Co. will still be plenty potent. … Arkansas 51, Missouri State 10

Edward’s take: This will be the first glimpse of life after Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis, but the Razorbacks have enough firepower on offense to still put points up. ... Arkansas 44, Missouri State 7

ELON at VANDERBILT

Chris’ take: First-year coach James Franklin doesn’t want to hear about what can’t be done at Vanderbilt. He’s only interested in what can be done. … Vanderbilt 28, Elon 10

Edward’s take: There is buzz and excitement around Vanderbilt's program for the first time in a while. The seven-game losing streak ends here. ... Vanderbilt 28, Elon 17

MONTANA at TENNESSEE

Chris’ take: The Vols will be one of the youngest teams in the country with 14 freshman or sophomore starters. They like flying under the radar this season in the East race. … Tennessee 35, Montana 14

Edward’s take: There is no doubt that Tennessee will be able to score on opponents and we'll see the Vols do it often Saturday. ... Tennessee 44, Montana 13

SOUTH CAROLINA vs. EAST CAROLINA

Chris’ take: The Head Ball Coach is set on playing two quarterbacks. After all the off-the-field news generated by Stephen Garcia in the offseason, Connor Shaw has been the better player in the preseason. … South Carolina 38, East Carolina 20

Edward’s take: We aren't sure who will take the brunt of the snaps at quarterback, but Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are still there, so that's good enough. ... South Carolina 42, East Carolina 17

BYU at OLE MISS

Chris’ take: The Rebels’ season went up in flames a year ago in the opener when they were upset by Jacksonville. The Rebels will be the ones doing the upsetting this season. … Ole Miss 27, BYU 21

Edward’s take: It's a new day in Oxford. There is a ton of youth across the board, and the Rebels are being overlooked. That's when Houston Nutt's teams can be dangerous. ... Ole Miss 24, BYU 20

BOISE STATE vs. GEORGIA

Chris’ take: Boise State has made a living winning these types of games and won’t be the least bit intimidated. The pressure’s on Georgia, but the Bulldogs know the stakes and will deliver a championship-caliber performance at a place (the Georgia Dome) they hope to return to in December. … Georgia 31, Boise State 27

Edward’s take: Boise State has been anxiously waiting a chance to play against the SEC again. Last time the Broncos tangled around these parts they were blown out by -- you guessed it -- Georgia. Things will be different this time around, with the national championship on the line inside the Georgia Dome. ... Boise State 31, Georgia 24

LSU vs. OREGON

Chris’ take: LSU will be without three starters on offense, and you’ve got to wonder how the emotion of the past two weeks will impact the Tigers. It hasn’t been easy wading through all the controversy, but this is a game they win because they’re fast, deep and nasty on defense. … LSU 28, Oregon 24

Edward's take: LSU will be without its starting quarterback and most explosive wide receiver, but this team will rely more on its defense, and it should be able to keep up with that blistering Oregon offense. The Tigers have too much speed and power along the defensive line and enough weapons on offense to get the job done. ... LSU 23, Oregon 18