Perhaps in response to the strength of schedule component of this year's inaugural playoff -- or maybe just to shut up everyone who whines about the SEC scheduling cupcakes -- the teams in our league have managed to schedule a compelling slate of games for kickoff weekend. Our game against Clemson is obviously the headliner, but let's take a look at the other notable games around the league:
No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 9 South Carolina (-10.5) (Thursday)
Bill C.'s previews for A&M and Cocky provide statistical support for what you already know from having eyes and watching football games last season: Although losing Johnny Manziel hurts, A&M's offense will probably be just fine. The defense is going to lose them some games, though. South Carolina, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded and probably won't miss Clowney as much as you think they would. Throw in the fact that the Aggies' starting QB will be (a) getting his first college start (b) at night (c) in Columbia, and you have a recipe for South Carolina to extend their 18-game home winning streak and jump into the top 5.
at vs. No. 18 Ole Miss (-10) (Thursday)
The Broncos have been a great team for a decade, but that run is probably over. One look at the resume of Chris Petersen's replacement (Bryan Harsin) tells you everything you need to know: He spent two lackluster seasons as co-offensive coordinator at Texas (2011-2012) before guiding Arkansas State to a 7-5 finish last season. I'm guessing Ole Miss makes a statement early and climbs close to the top 10 before hitting a brick wall in October (Alabama, at Texas A&M, Tennesse, at LSU, Auburn). The Rebs take care of business
at home in Atlanta.
No. 14 Wisconsin
at vs. No. 13 LSU (-4.5)
An SEC team against a B1G team
at home? The SEC team covers, obviously. [Ed. - The 2014 Gator Bowl is not a thing that exists in my world.] The real reason to watch this game is to see whether LSU freshman RB Leonard Fournette is, in fact, the truth.
Utah State (+6.5) at Tennessee(Sunday)
There may be no such thing as free lunch, but sometimes, just sometimes, there is such a thing as free money. Before he injured his knee early last October, Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton threw for 1,388 yards and 18 TDs against just 2 picks. The Volunteer defense should be an easy transition back to live action for him. Tennessee is the only team in the country to replace all of its starters on both lines. That also means that the feisty Utah State defense should be able to break in their youngsters easily too. I'm taking Utah State outright.
Next week we'll get back to picking a single SEC game of interest, but I'm just too excited about football being back not to watch all of these games. What's your non-UGA SEC Game of Interest this week?