Texas A&M vs. Arkansas/ October 1st, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX
Arkansas is coming off a season in which they went 10-3 and comes into 2011 ranked 14th and riding high expectations. Some have predicted the Hogs to be this years’ Auburn Tigers. They have beaten the Aggies each of the last two years including a 24-17 victory in Arlington last year.
Texas A&M went 9-4 last year with losses to Arkansas and fellow SEC West school LSU. They enter this year ranked 9th in the first USA Today Coaches Poll and amid rumors of a potential jump to the SEC.
Alabama at Penn State/ September 10, Beaver Stadium in College Park, PA
Alabama is being hyped as the leader to be the sixth straight SEC team to win the BCS National Championship coming off their 10-3 season last year. They beat Penn State easily in Tuscaloosa last year but will have to travel this year to face the improved Nittany Lions.
Penn State enters the season ranked 25th in the first USA Today Coaches Poll and have elevated expectations from last year when they finished 7-6 with a loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.
Georgia vs. Boise State/ September 3, Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA
Georgia is being picked to finish second in the SEC East this year behind South Carolina by many but this matchup could go a long way in setting the tone for the Bulldogs season. They come into the season ranked 22nd after finishing last season 6-7 and finishing with a loss in the Liberty Bowl.
Boise State enters the year ranked 7th and continues to ride the hype from previous seasons to high early season rankings. Kellen Moore will look to help his Heisman chances with a strong performance in the Georgia Dome.
LSU vs. Oregon/ September 3, Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX
LSU is ranked 4th in the first Coaches poll of the season and many believe their matchup with Alabama may decide the West and possibly who will play for the National Championship. This game against the Ducks in Week 1, though, may ultimately make or break the Tigers season. A win will go a long way towards legitimizing LSU’s title hopes.
Oregon comes in ranked 3rd after their run to the National Championship game in 2010 and despite allegations about the teams’ relationship with Willie Lyles, the Ducks are a legitimate title contender again in 2011. A win against an SEC powerhouse like LSU would potentially set the Ducks up to run the table in the PAC-12 and return to the National Championship Game.