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SEC   SEC   SEC

SEC FOOTBALL STARTING OUT STRONG
September 1, 2004

Everyone is hyping up the LSU-Oregon State game this weekend, but there are many interesting matchups this week outside of that game. This week will show the SEC fans and the nation what the offseason has produced. Before the first game has even got underway, there have been multiple injuries and suspensions to various players throughout the SEC. ESPN Gameday will be visiting the LSU campus this weekend to see the matchup between the Tigers and Beavers. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso visit Baton Rouge for the fourth time in school history. Everyone is excited that football season is finally here.

Game of the Week:

South Carolina (0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-0)
Winner: South Carolina
Everyone is hyping up the LSU-Oregon State as the game of the week, because of the two teams involved, but this week’s key game will be the one between the Gamecocks and Commodores. They will set the tone for the 2004 SEC season, and hopefully give all of their fans a good game. Now, a lot of South Carolina fans will probably say, "there is no way this is going to be a close game," but watch out, Vandy could be dangerous. A lot of people are claiming that Vanderbilt is going to take the prize (again) for being on the bottom of the SEC East this year, including myself, but I think they will surprise a lot of people. Watch out for Vandy’s QB Jay Cutler. He has the capability to expose the Gamecock’s mediocre linebackers and defensive backs, and possibly make some big plays. Also, watch out for Lou Holtz to play up this game to be the contest of the century, because in Holtz’s eyes every one of his opponents is a premier football program. This is the thirteenth battle between these two teams, with South Carolina dominating the Commodores in the past (11-2-0; first meeting: 1961). Predicted Score: 17-14

Other Games Around the SEC (Record, AP/ESPN-USA Today):

Georgia Southern (0-0) at Georgia (0-0, 3/4)
Winner: Georgia
The Bulldogs are going to come out and prove that the offensive line, wide receivers, runningbacks, and defensive line are solid. David Greene will show the nation why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. David Pollack will be able to get into and pressure the QB, with the return of Will Thompson. Georgia has met Georgia Southern twice previously (2-0-0; 1992, 2000). Predicted Score: 35-0

Oregon State (0-0) at LSU (0-0, 4/3)
Winner: LSU
The Tigers have a very interesting task in front of them...following up a national championship season with a home opener (2nd time in school history; Last time - 1959 versus Rice; won 26-3). Oregon State comes into Baton Rouge touted to end up smack dab in the middle of the PAC-10 this year. The Beavers will prove to be a tough opponent for the LSU squad, at least for the first half, but then the Tigers will begin to dominate in front of 90,000 Tiger faithful and the ESPN College Gameday Crew. LSU has met Oregon State three times previously, always in Baton Rouge (3-0-0; 1976, 1981, 1982). Predicted Score: 24-7

Middle Tennessee (0-0) at Florida (0-0, 11/10)
Winner: Florida
Not much explanation needed here. The Gators will show the nation why they are ranked where they are. Chris Leak will guide his team in an aerial assault. Leak has the capability to throw for over 400 yards against a team that is not a match for them. MTSU’s key player is their QB Andrico Hines, who has completed over 60% of his passes in recent year, but he will prove to be no competition to this young and talented Gator squad. Predicted Score: 45-10

UNLV (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0, 14/15)
Winner: Tennessee
This is another match-up that needs very little explanation. Even though the Vols will be starting the season with a different QB than they have been for the last four years, the UNLV Running Rebels have very little chance to be a threat against them. UNLV’s head coach John Robinson has beat the Vols twice before (1980 & 1981), but that was when he was leading the USC Trojans against them. Unfortunately, his USC teams of the early 1980’s were much better than this UNLV team. This marks just the second time the Vols have played the Running Rebels (1996; won 62-3 in Neyland Stadium). Predicted Score: 35-14

Louisiana-Monroe (0-0) at Auburn (17, 18)
Winner: Auburn
If anyone picks ULM to win this game, they are morons. ULM is not known as a strong football school. In fact, the only sport they are strong in, is their collegiate waterskiing (17 national championships and 5 runner-up finishes since 1979; my waterski plug - see my biography), but regardless, Auburn is much more powerful than that state school from Monroe. Jason Campbell will be dominant and give the Auburn faithful a good look at the type of offense to expect from the Tigers this year. Predicted Score: 45-3

Tulane (0-0) at Mississippi State (0-0)
Winner: Mississippi State
This is the first game under the Sylvester Croom era. Although the Bulldogs are slotted to once again sweep up the bottom of the western division, I feel that they will surprise a number of people along the way. Mississippi State will need to win as many games as possible before they hit their SEC schedule. Mississippi State has met with Tulane 54 times in their history (27-25-2). Predicted Score: 21-13

Utah State (0-0) at Alabama (0-0)
Winner: Alabama
Alabama has had a negative cloud hanging over their program in the recent years with NCAA sanctions. These sanctions have limited the number of talented players to come into Tuscaloosa in the last few years. Watch for Mike Shula to play a number of freshmen and experiment with different defensive and offensive sets. This is the first time these two teams have met each other. Predicted Score: 35-10

Memphis (0-0) at Mississippi (0-0)
Winner: Memphis
Unfortunately, when Ole Miss lost Eli Manning, they also lost most of their offensive power. Mississippi will keep this game manageable through three quarters (within one touchdown), but then Memphis will take over and beat the Rebels. If Ole Miss is going to be successful, it will be with the production of their wide receivers. Unfortunately for them, they won’t have the same type of offensive leader they had last year in Manning. The Rebels have battled it out with Memphis 53 times in their history (42-9-2). Predicted Score: 24-10

New Mexico State (0-0) at Arkansas (0-0)
Winner: Arkansas
The Razorback’s offensive leader on the field Matt Jones will dominate this game. I predict that he is going to throw for over 300 yards and rush for at least 70. He is going to exploit the New Mexico State defense and show why Arkansas can conceivably be looked at as a dark horse in the western division. Predicted Score: 48-7

Kentucky (0-0) at Louisville (0-0)
Winner: Louisville
As interstate rivals in Kentucky, this game will feature two teams usually known for their basketball teams. Come college basketball season, this meeting will be one of the most anticipated games of the year. As far as their football is concerned, I see Kentucky having problems against this talented Cardinal team. They are definitely going to miss the offensive production of Derek Abney and Jared Lorenzen. This is the 16th meeting between these two programs (Kentucky leads series 10-6-0; first meeting 1912). Predicted Score: 17-3

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