While no one who has been paying attention really believed LSU would be able to make it through the 2020 season without a significant fallback, few thought Mike Leach’s Pirate Bulldogs would have been the first team to expose the flaws in the Tigers’ armor. Heading into Week 2, Auburn-Georgia is probably the SEC’s premier matchup given that it’s a rivalry game, although Texas A&M-Alabama is no less important.
Last Week’s Record: 6-1 (85.7%)
Season Record: 6-1 (85.7%)
SOUTH CAROLINA at FLORIDA
South Carolina came surprisingly close to knocking off Tennessee in the opener, but Will Muschamp’s entire career in Columbia has been one big game of “almost, but not quite.” Not the Gamecocks have to travel to Muschamp’s former home in Gainesville, Fla., where the Gators are coming off an impressive offensive showing against Ole Miss – but also a game that raised some questions about the Gator defense.
We don’t yet know how vulnerable Florida is or isn’t, but the Gators certainly have a lot of media pundits convinced, as they rank 3rd in the polls ahead of Georgia at 4th. Florida needs to clean things up on defense but the passing game is dangerous enough to keep South Carolina guessing. If the Gamecocks’ defense isn’t in for a big improvement over Week 1, a second loss in two weeks could send South Carolina reeling and Muschamp on an early path to the unemployment line.
South Carolina 20
TEXAS A&M at ALABAMA
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AUBURN at GEORGIA
Georgia is still looking for consistency on offense, but will get QB J.T. Daniels this week after Daniels missed the first week. Georgia let Arkansas hang around an uncomfortably long time in the opener. Meanwhile, Auburn put together a solid showing against Kentucky, especially on defense, but Georgia has more weapons. Home-field advantage doesn’t mean as much in front of sparse 2020 crowds, but it’s still a big edge to Georgia and Daniels that his first action with the team isn’t coming on the road.
The Georgia defense will be under heavy pressure to keep Auburn’s frenetic offense contained long enough for Daniels to find his rhythm. If Georgia lets Auburn get out to an early lead, the Bulldogs may very well lack the recovery potential they would need in such a scenario.
MISSISSIPPI at KENTUCKY
A hard game to pick, as Ole Miss looked better on offense than expected in Week 1 and Kentucky much worse than expected. What played out exactly according to script, however, was Ole Miss’ defense being an embarrassment. With just over 70 teams playing FBS football right now, ranking 71st in several defensive categories isn’t the way Lane Kiffin wanted to start his tenure. Now the question becomes whether Kentucky can bounce back from an anemic showing against Auburn, which is going to require the Wildcats finding more playmakers on the edges on offense and a more effective performance from the quarterback position. In cases like this, we like the better defensive team as well as the home team, and with Kentucky getting the nod both places, we’ll go that route.
Ole Miss 24
MISSOURI at TENNESSEE
The knee-jerk reaction here after watching Missouri scrap for a full 60 minutes against Alabama is to buy heavily into what the Tigers are selling in 2020, but the SEC is chock full of teams that have underperformed after physical losses to Alabama over the years. Tennessee had a much closer shave against South Carolina than it ever should have, but the Vols are at home and Missouri is still trying to figure out its quarterback situation, the makeup of its offensive line and whether its new starters at receiver can get open with any kind of regularity. This is the kind of game Tennessee has to start winning on a consistent basis if it’s going to challenge Florida and Georgia at the top of the SEC East.
LOUISIANA STATE at VANDERBILT
Vanderbilt managed to keep Texas A&M good and frightened for a whole game last week, but the Commodores just didn’t have the offensive firepower to pull off the upset. But the story of the SEC’s Week 1 was most certainly LSU, which arrived for its game against Mississippi State possessing all the poise of the best man at the wedding of two heirs of whiskey distilleries.
If LSU were to follow up that meltdown with a loss on the road to Vandy this week, we’re really not sure whether Baton Rouge would still be findable on Google Earth the next day, or whether it would have already launched itself into geosynchronous orbit sometime overnight. Vanderbilt has a tough defense, but it is thin and the Commodores are historically erratic week-to-week. LSU doesn’t have the kind of weapons it had last year, but it has far more than does Vandy and we can’t see Vanderbilt keeping up the scoring pace.
ARKANSAS at MISSISSIPPI STATE
This was supposed to be one of a couple of games that would eventually decide the SEC West cellar, but something funny happened on the way to the pits. Mississippi State threw for a million yards and upset LSU in Baton Rouge in Week 1, and now no one is sneaking up on anybody. Arkansas put together a decent effort against Georgia, but the Razorbacks just don’t have the weapons and we’re not sure whether we believe in the long-term plan. Mississippi State under Mike Leach is going to hit some rough patches along the way, but this probably won’t be one of them.
Mississippi St. 38