No. 12 Florida at Miami
When: Saturday, noon, EST on ESPN
Line: Florida -3
Reasons to watch: The Hurricanes (1-0) hope to announce they are back to being “The U” Saturday afternoon when Florida comes calling. It won’t be easy. Miami boasts plenty of offensive balance but Florida’s defense reminded fans again last week just how nasty it can be. The Gators (1-0) will either be full strength or very close to it after two defensive stars – LB Antonio Morrison and CB Loucheiz Purifoy – return from a Week 1 suspension. RB Matt Jones will crack the lineup this week as well after missing the opener while recovering from a viral infection. This is another test for the Gators defense, which easily passed against Toledo last week. Miami RB Duke Johnson is one of the nation’s best and QB Steven Morris gives the Canes a reasonably strong passing presence. This week will tell us a lot about how good both Florida and Miami can be this year.
Miami (OH) at Kentucky
When: Saturday, noon, EST on Fox Sports South (or ESPN3)
Line: Kentucky -17
Reasons to watch: Wow. Now that’s a way to not start a coaching tenure. Maybe one day Mark Stoops will look back on the season-opening debacle against Western Kentucky and laugh. That’s doubtful, though – especially if he can’t get a seemingly underachieving front seven to produce better effort than it did last week when the Hilltoppers posted 216 rushing yards and 4 TDs. QB Maxwell Smith gets his first start of the season after coming off the bench in relief of Jalen Whitlow in Week 1. Kentucky (0-1) seems likely to score a confidence-boosting win over Miami (OH) (0-1) in this one.
Western Kentucky at Tennessee
When: Saturday, 12:21 p.m., EST on SEC Network
Line: Tennessee -13
Reasons to watch: Now that the Austin Peay scrimmage is behind Tennessee (1-0), the Volunteers can get serious about real football in the Butch Jones era. QB Justin Worley got off to a great start last week against the… whatever Austin Peay’s mascot is. Then again, who didn’t? Western Kentucky (1-0), meanwhile, beat down in-state foe Kentucky last week. Coach Bobby Petrino will look to knock off a second consecutive first-year coach at an SEC school after none of the hiring programs so much as sniffed around him in the disgraceful aftermath of his Arkansas firing. This should be a test for the Volunteers, though one they should pass.
Toledo at Missouri
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., EST on ESPNU
Line: Missouri -17
Reasons to watch: Like Tennessee, the Tigers (1-0) opened with a Homecoming-worthy opponent in Week 1. Missouri subsequently thrashed Murray State, tuning up for the rest of the non-conference schedule before ending the season with eight consecutive SEC games. This might as well be the opener for Mizzou, which hosts a Toledo (0-1) that looked flat against Florida. The Gators’ superior defense certainly played a role in that, but don’t be fooled – the Rockets have a better offense than they showed last week. Missouri should roll in this one, but Toledo has enough talent to give the Tigers some early fits.
Alcorn State at Mississippi State
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., EST on Comcast Sports Southeast
Line: Mississippi State -41.5
Reasons to watch: A) You’re a die-hard Mississippi State fan. B) You’ve been waiting to watch QB Dak Prescott. C) You’re completely bored on a Saturday afternoon. I got nothing else. State (0-1) should roll in its SEC tune-up by 40-plus over Alcorn State (1-0).
No. 6 South Carolina at No. 11 Georgia
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., EST on CBS
Line: Georgia -3.5
Reasons to watch: One of the great things about the SEC: It doesn’t take much time to get ramped up for enormous games. The winner of this tilt doesn’t take the lead in the SEC East race. Florida still must be dealt with by both. However, the winner absolutely controls the road to Atlanta from the SEC East. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier made waves by talking about how Georgia fans don’t care about this rivalry. Make no mistake: The Bulldogs certainly care about this game. After losing the opener to Clemson, Georgia (0-1) needs a victory to avoid watching its national championship dreams vanish. South Carolina (1-0) cruised to an easy victory over North Carolina. DE Jadeveon Clowney posted a statistically sub-par game, though, drawing criticism. Georgia QB Aaron Murray, meanwhile, wants to reverse his trend of not playing his best football against top teams. The Bulldogs are 2-12 against top-15 teams over the past five seasons.
Samford at Arkansas
When: Saturday, 7 p.m., EST on ESPN3
Line: Arkansas -32.5
Reasons to watch: Hard to come up with any here. Arkansas (1-0) impressed in its season-opening win over Louisiana-Lafayette last week. Beating Samford (1-0) should be simple and decisive. If this is a game at halftime, it would be a surprise.
Southeast Missouri State at Ole Miss
When: Saturday, 7 p.m., EST on ESPN3
Line: Missouri -50
Reasons to watch: Ole Miss (1-0) should dominate, so if you’re watching it’s probably because you’re a huge Rebels fan or you are a student or alumni of SEMO (0-1). Otherwise, perhaps you’re one of those people who watch the Harlem Globetrotters against the Washington Generals for the competition.
UAB at No. 9 LSU
When: Saturday, 7 p.m., EST on ESPNU
Line: LSU -34.5
Reasons to watch: Hey, at least UAB (0-1) put up a fight against Troy last week. The Blazers don’t have much of a chance on the bayou Saturday night, though. LSU (1-0) posted one of the most impressive victories by beating TCU in Arlington, Texas in Week 1. Not much to say on this one. The Tigers should turn this one into a laugher no later than the middle of the third quarter.
Sam Houston State at No. 7 Texas A&M
When: Saturday, 7 p.m., EST on ESPN3
Line: Texas A&M -39.5
Reasons to watch: Maybe QB Johnny Manziel will mock the other team or otherwise make a fool of himself. One would think he would avoid doing so after causing such a hubbub last week. Then again, one wouldn’t think he would fake signing autographs as part of his trash talk. Texas A&M (1-0) will smash Sam Houston State (1-0), which is a good FCS team that won’t be able to keep up with one of the stronger SEC squads.
Arkansas State at Auburn
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., EST on Fox Sports South
Line: Auburn -10.5
Reasons to watch: Auburn coach Gus Malzahn takes on Arkansas State (1-0), which he led to a Sun Belt championship last season. The Tigers (1-0) survived last week against Washington State despite QB Nick Marshall’s less than stellar debut. Las Vegas loves the Red Wolves’ ability to keep this one interesting, with the visitors installed as just 10.5-point underdogs. Auburn ran all over the Cougars last week, but would like to showcase a more polished passing game – and a more consistent defense – before it opens SEC play next week.
Austin Peay at Vanderbilt
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., EST on ESPN3
Line: Vanderbilt -47.5
Reasons to watch: Even for big fans of Vanderbilt (0-1), it’s hard to justify watching this one any way but live. This is the same atrocious Austin Peay (0-1) team that got run off the Neyland Stadium field last week by Tennessee. The Commodores should end any suspense early.
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