Monday, August 27, 2012
Week 1 in the SEC
By Chris Low
Here's a quick primer as we enter Week 1:
South Carolina fans will surely be eager to watch the return of star RB Marcus Lattimore on Thursday.
No. 9 South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: It's our first look at South Carolina star running back Marcus Lattimore since he injured his knee last season against Mississippi State. Is he back to his old self? Lattimore had a 52-yard touchdown catch and a 22-yard touchdown run last season against Vanderbilt to break open that game.
Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech (in Shreveport, La.), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU: It's the kind of game no coach in the SEC would hand-pick as an opener. The Aggies don't have a whole lot to gain, but they have plenty to lose against their WAC foes. Plus, the game is being played in Louisiana Tech's back yard.
Tennessee vs. North Carolina State (in Atlanta), 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU: The Vols have the loss of All-SEC receiver Da'Rick Rogers to deal with, not to mention a talented N.C. State secondary led by All-America cornerback David Amerson, who had 13 interceptions last season. It's a game Tennessee (and third-year coach Derek Dooley) desperately need to win.
Buffalo at No. 6 Georgia, Noon ET, SEC Network: The Bulldogs get a tune-up before going on the road the second week to face Missouri. The big question: How many Georgia players will be suspended and for how many games?
Bowling Green at No. 23 Florida, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Florida quarterback competition will continue into the season with Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel both playing in the opener. It may be two or three games into the season before the Gators settle on their guy.
Auburn vs. No. 14 Clemson (in Atlanta), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Both teams will be without key players. Auburn center Reese Dismukes was suspended after being arrested over the weekend on a public intoxication charge, while Clemson will be without All-America receiver Sammy Watkins for the first two games. Watkins was arrested on drug-related charges in May.
North Texas at No. 3 LSU, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU: The Zach Mettenberger era begins in Baton Rouge. And while Les Miles is always going to demand that the Tigers commit to the run, he's also saying they will open up the passing game this season and give Mettenberger a chance to put that big right arm to good use.
Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. ET, Pay-per-view: Ole Miss fans will want to make sure they have their updated rosters handy for this game. The Rebels are going to play a bunch of new faces, and a lot of those new faces will be freshmen.
Jackson State at Mississippi State, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net: The Bulldogs get a chance to flex their muscles a bit before Auburn comes to town the second week. It will be interesting to see how different the offense looks with Tyler Russell stepping in as the full-time starter at quarterback. He has a senior-laden receiving corps.
Jacksonville State at No. 10 Arkansas, 7 p.m. ET, Pay-per-view: Arkansas running back Knile Davis tweeted "still got it" after getting his first live contact work in last Friday's mock game, which was closed to the public. We all get to see Davis carry the ball for the first time in more than a year on Saturday night when the Hogs kick it off at home.
Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri, 7 p.m. ET, Pay-per-view: It's the first of three straight home games for the Tigers, who get to show off junior quarterback James Franklin and his surgically repaired right throwing shoulder. It's also the debut of prized freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan (in Arlington Texas), 8 p.m. ET, ABC: The Crimson Tide are used to starting the season in these prime-time affairs against nationally ranked opponents. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson will put pressure on an Alabama defense that had to replace a lot of talented players. But it's also a defense that had a ton of talent waiting in the wings.
Kentucky at Louisville, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: The Wildcats lost last season at home to the Cardinals, ending a four-game winning streak against their in-state rivals. As openers go, this is a huge one for third-year coach Joker Phillips and is sure to shape the season one way or the other.