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By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Sept. 2, 2014
Last week’s record: 9-2 (81.8%)
The only thing stopping the Predictions Dept. from a 10-win first week was the rain, which washed out the Florida-Idaho game. Upsets happen, but it’s hard to imagine Florida losing that game no matter the weather or any other circumstance. While Florida and Idaho decide what to do about a replacement game, the rest of the conference moves on to Week 2, which is highlighted by — if you can call it that — Missouri going on the road to face a Toledo team that is tougher than the average mid-major.
EASTERN MICHIGAN at FLORIDA
Starting The Season, Take Two: Florida (allegedly) hosts Eastern Michigan this week, and the Eagles are coming off a rip-roaring 31-28 victory over Morgan State. Provided the weather cooperates, Florida should drill the Eagles. Eastern Michigan has been one of the worst Division-IA programs practically forever, while Florida – no matter how much the Gators struggled last season – could not possibly be as bad as EMU has been. The only question for Florida is how the Gators will debut, since this is the first game of the year for them versus Eastern Michigan’s second game, thereby meaning no first-game jitters for the Eagles. The likely answer? It won’t matter.
E. Michigan 7
East Carolina has a fairly tough program and opened with an impressive win over N.C. Central in Week 1, but the Pirates have had issues on defense the past couple of years and Steve Spurrier will be looking for someone to take out frustrations upon. If East Carolina pulls this upset, though, the wheels will come off in Columbia, and with Georgia on the docket for next week, an 0-3 start might just be enough to raise questions about when Spurrier is planning on hanging it all up.
South Carolina 37
East Carolina 24
OHIO at KENTUCKY
The Bobcats slipped by Kent State 17-14 in their opener, while Kentucky did what most expected the Wildcats would do, throttling overmatched UT-Martin. Ohio is many times over a better team than was UT-Martin, but probably still not good enough to get by Kentucky. There will be a significant speed advantage in this one, with the edge going to UK. But whether Kentucky is ready to cohesively work together as a team – especially given the coaching advantage lies on the Bobcats’ sideline – is another matter.
MISSOURI at TOLEDO
Why Missouri has agreed to go on the road for this game is anyone’s guess, but in doing so, the Tigers will run into former Alabama quarterback Phillip Ely, now the starter for the Rockets. Missouri’s opener against South Dakota State was a tepid display of SEC football, and if the Tigers repeat that effort against Toledo, this could turn out to be a fairly huge upset. Toledo romped over New Hampshire in its opener, but that was expected. Something else that’s expected – Toledo doesn’t have the defense to contain Missouri’s Maty Mauk.
ARKANSAS STATE at TENNESSEE
The Red Wolves won comfortably in their opener, 37-10 over Montana St., but it was Tennessee that turned some heads with a 38-7 domination of a fairly good Utah State team. If Tennessee is to be taken seriously, the Volunteers must follow up that win with something as good or better against Arkansas State. This will be Tennessee’s last soft game for awhile; Oklahoma beckons in Week 3, followed by the start of the SEC season. Only a one-week reprieve against Chattanooga looks like a comfortable victory after this one gets done.
Arkansas State 17
MISSISSIPPI at VANDERBILT (at LP Field, Nashville)
Vanderbilt was growing accustomed to potential bowl trips to LP Field the past few years; this might be the closest the Commodores get in 2014. Vanderbilt’s opening loss to Temple wasn’t just a loss, it was a complete self-destruction and immediately called into question new head coach Derek Mason’s decision to change Vandy’s offensive and defensive systems simultaneously. Ole Miss was already going to be a tough out for Vanderbilt; now it’s almost impossible to concoct a scenario in which Vanderbilt wins this game.
Ole Miss 30
NICHOLLS STATE at ARKANSAS
Arkansas has lost 10 straight games now under Bret Bielema. The streak won’t get to 11.
Nicholls St. 10
SAN JOSE STATE at AUBURN
San Jose State isn’t the joke program of a few years ago. The Spartans made great strides under the past coaching regime and opened 2014 with a nice – and convincing – win over North Dakota. But the Spartans are highly unlikely to get by an Auburn team that, once again, has a powerful offense and very little defense to speak of. Unless Auburn’s offensive production against Arkansas in the opener was just a mirage, this game is going to get out of hand.
San Jose State 24
SAM HOUSTON STATE at LOUISIANA STATE
LSU got off to a slow start against Wisconsin in the opener before taking control of the game late. If the Tigers have to do the same thing this week against Sam Houston State, there will be cause for concern. LSU was gashed by the Badger running game and doesn’t have sufficient offensive cohesion right now to be considered a contender.
Sam Houston St. 16
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM at MISSISSIPPI STATE
Don’t look now, but UAB tore apart Troy in its opener and suddenly this game doesn’t look like a walkover for Mississippi State anymore. Troy couldn’t stop the Blazer rushing attack, which rolled up 338 yards. Mississippi State figures to fare much better given its defensive strength up the middle. This game will also tell UAB whether its defense really was as good as Troy made it look, or if it was an optical illusion. If Mississippi State loses this one, it would probably bring an abrupt end to talk of this being a transformational season.
Mississippi St. 34
LAMAR at TEXAS A&M
Let’s hope all those high-dollar renovations to Kyle Field included three-digit scoreboards.
Texas A&M 62
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