SEC previews and predictions: Week 1
By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Aug. 29, 2012
Last season’s record: 87-10 (89.7%)
The Predictions Dept. is coming off its best season ever, and by pointing that out, we have likely doomed ourselves to failure in 2012. For those unfamiliar, this is our chance to give you a short take on all SEC games not involving Alabama, and to have a little fun along the way. With two additional teams joining the conference in 2012, our job just got a little more difficult.
BOWLING GREEN at FLORIDA
This is a good opening salvo for the Gators, which still are playing quarterback roulette and have yet to develop an identity under Will Muschamp. Bowling Green, meanwhile, is a team that can’t run the football and is coming off a 5-7 season. It won’t surprise anyone if this game is ugly, thanks mostly to Florida’s quarterback indecision, but don’t look for an upset, either.
Bowling Green 14
ALABAMA vs. MICHIGAN (in Dallas, Texas)
See our extended preview!
BUFFALO at GEORGIA
Buffalo has had some good teams recently, but (a) this isn’t one of them and (b) the Bulls are going up against one of the most complete teams in the SEC in 2012. The biggest question here is whether Georgia will get a good look at whoever the fifth-team tailback is – before halftime.
KENTUCKY at LOUISVILLE
Unfortunately for Kentucky, the season is probably going to get off on the wrong foot. The Wildcats have problem spots up and down the roster, while Louisville is looking to put the Steve Kragthorpe nightmare fully in the past and begin competing for national attention again.
SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA at MISSOURI
Welcome to the SEC, Missouri. We see it didn’t take you long to embrace a longstanding tradition among the SEC’s midlevel teams – directional Louisiana school in Week 1.
SE Louisiana 10
SOUTH CAROLINA at VANDERBILT
This might end up being the marquee matchup of the week, sans Alabama-Michigan. It’s certainly become the trendy upset pick to make, with Vanderbilt coming off a bowl-eligible season and facing a South Carolina team with a mending Marcus Lattimore in the backfield. But South Carolina has gobs more talent across the board than do the Commodores, and it’s not like Dudley Field is highly ranked on a list of toughest places for opponents to play.
South Carolina 27
TENNESSEE vs. NORTH CAROLINA STATE (in Atlanta, Ga.)
This is an intriguing matchup given the Da’Rick Rogers distraction in Knoxville and the fact many are predicting NC State as a darkhorse BCS team. The problem for NC State is its defense, specifically the front seven, which is being rebuilt from scratch. Teams weak up front on defense rarely do well against SEC teams, even those as thoroughly average as the Volunteers. NC State may be favored to win this, but we consider it an upset if it happens.
NC State 17
JACKSONVILLE STATE at ARKANSAS
Yes, Jacksonville State could pull the same kind of opening-day surprise it pulled on Ole Miss a couple of years ago, and if it happens, John L. Smith’s tenure as head coach might tie the record for shortest in a single season in school history – a record set by Jack Crowe, who coaches Jacksonville State. Symmetry. But it won’t happen.
Jacksonville St. 10
AUBURN vs. CLEMSON (in Atlanta, Ga.)
Auburn fans swear nine or more wins are possible, while most pundits who look at the Tigers’ roster see significantly fewer than that. Perhaps no SEC team is a mystery this year in the way Auburn is, thanks to several years of highly rated recruiting classes which would lead one to believe this team is a conference title contender. Reality, though, is that this is a thin team with several glaring weaknesses – perhaps none so glaring as the morass at quarterback. Clemson isn’t a world-beater by any stretch, but the Tigers have a veteran, dynamic quarterback and have athletes all over the field. Anything can happen and it figures to be wacky.
NORTH TEXAS at LOUISIANA STATE
Quick, play this one before anyone else gets suspended at LSU.
North Texas 0
CENTRAL ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI
Ole Miss 45
Cen. Arkansas 7
JACKSON STATE at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Arkansas gets Jacksonville State, Mississippi State gets Jackson State. No one with Jackson in their name goes home happy.
Mississippi St. 44
Jackson St. 6
IDLE (postponed due to Hurricane Isaac): Texas A&M
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