Previewing the Week Three SEC Matchups

Saturday, September 13th

UAB at Tennessee

A cupcake can't come soon enough for Tennessee, who has some major problems to solve before they take on the Gators in Knoxville next week. UAB, meanwhile, has been beaten soundly by upper-tier Sun Belt conference squads Tulsa and Florida Atlantic. Look for the Vols to work on their offensive game, which put up somewhat respectable yardage against UCLA but failed to capitalize on the Bruins' four first-half turnovers. Vols kicker Daniel Lincoln also needs to play better after missing three FGs in the opening loss.

Georgia at South Carolina

More on this one later.

Arkansas at Texas

This is an old-school rivalry that has given the sport a number of great games over the years. However, this looks like the wrong year to renew it, as Arkansas is struggling and looks to be no match for the Horns. Bevo, though, shouldn't take Arky too lightly: the Hogs' offense has logged more yardage than the final scores of their last two games would indicate, so it's possible that Petrino could have them scoring more points at some point this season. However, I still think it's safe to go here with Texas, who has so far outscored better-than-average mid-major opponents 94-23.

Auburn at Mississippi State

The Tigers come to Starkville seeking revenge for last year's embarrassing loss in Jordan-Hare. Auburn's defense is solid as usual, but the new spread offense has yet to yield the dividends Tigers fans had hoped for. However, it has been a little more effective than the unit led by Brandon Cox for the past couple of years, and it seems reasonable to believe that Franklin has saved a few tricks for the SEC schedule. State, on the other hand, beat Southeastern LA last week after they struggled in their first game as they lost to LA Tech. This game was classic State: the defense looked serviceable, but QB Wesley Carroll crapped away the victory by throwing four picks. The Auburn defense will hardly be more forgiving, and their offense looks efficient, so expect the Tigers to roll.

Western Kentucky at Alabama

The Tide followed up their dominating performance against Clemson with a clunker against Tulane in which they were unable to move the ball but managed a couple of TDs off of long kick returns by Javier Arenas. Considering the effort that went into the Clemson game and the fact that Tulane is a pushover, this was probably to be expected, but Bama showed that it still has some of the consistency problems that plagued the team last year. Look for the Tide to work on their offense against lowly WKU, which opened the season with a blowout loss to Indiana before picking up a win against FCS squad Eastern Kentucky.

Middle Tennessee at Kentucky

The 1-1 Blue Raiders travel to Lexington to take on the 2-0 Wildcats. Middle Tennessee, who opened the season with a loss to Sun Belt rival Troy, parlayed an efficient air attack and three forced turnovers into a home victory over Maryland last week. With this in mind, the Cats shouldn't take MTSU lightly. The Cats' offense has been a little lame so far, but they have one of the country's best defenses statistically, although the level of the competition may have something to do with that. Look for Kentucky to try to slow down MTSU QB Joe Craddock as they try to win another one with their defense.

Samford at Ole Miss

1-1 Ole Miss looks to erase the sting of a disappointing loss to Wake Forest as they take on 2-0 FCS opponent Samford. Although their defense has been a little questionable, Ole Miss's offense has been extremely productive so far, and Houston Nutt has done it with a little more balance than he used at Arkansas. Look for the Rebels to continue to hone their "Wild Rebel" attack and lock down defensively as they pummel Samford, who looks solid for an FCS program but should be piece of cake for the Rebs.

Rice at Vanderbilt

A game between two rising programs with long histories of losing, both come into this game at 2-0. Rice comes having scored 92 points in its first two games, so Vanderbilt will have to try to figure out how to slow them down. However, Vandy's defense may be able to do just that; they've only given up 30 so far, although an outing against South Carolina's anemic offense can do wonders for defensive statistics. Rice has given up almost as many points as they've scored, so look for Chris Nickson and company to light it up and keep Rice out of the endzone enough to take this one and move a step closer to their first bowl berth since who knows when.

North Texas at LSU

Not much to say about this one. UNT has so far been pounded by Kansas State and Tulsa, so don't expect their luck to get any better in Death Valley. LSU will be prepping for the showdown with Auburn next week.

Idle: Florida

The Gators get a week off to prep for the Vols. By the way, that week CBS has decided to air Florida-Tennessee instead of LSU-Auburn as the SEC Game of the Week. Message to CBS: it's not the 90s anymore. Nobody cares about Florida-Tennessee as much as LSU-Auburn. LSU-Auburn has become one the conference's premier games over the past few years, a game that almost always delivers a close, exciting contest. What is CBS thinking?

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