The first two weeks of the 2011 SEC football season are in the books and week three is promising some much more intriguing matchups then a lot of the “cupcake” games we’ve been having to watch. This week kicks off a lot of SEC matchups including tonight’s (Thursday) Top 25 clash of No.3 LSU at No.25 Mississippi State. Let’s dive right in…..
Thursday, September 15 –
No. 3 LSU (2-0) at No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1)– LSU’s, week 1, win over
Oregon has to have Dan Mullen concerned. LSU’s defense is big, fast, and talented. Probably one of the best I’ve seen them put on the field in recent years. MSU played well enough against Auburn, in week 2, to pull out a victory but couldn’t capitalize on the goal line and let Auburn steal one away at Jordan-Hare. QB Relf and RB Ballard, for MSU, have looked impressive so far but haven’t, and won’t, face a defense like what they will face Thursday night in Starkville. LSU has managed to win convincingly without Jordan Jefferson and WR Russell Shepard and is averaging 44.5 pts a game while only allowing 15 from their opponents. MSU fans like to think that the team will be ready to avenge last week’s heartbreaker while the LSU faithful hope to maintain the early season success.
Saturday, September 17 –
No. 21 Auburn (2-0) at Clemson (2-0)– The Auburn Tigers are, once
again, living up to the nickname they were given last year by fans as the “Cardiac Cats”. Auburn has rallied, late, in both games to pull out victories and start the season undefeated. In week 3, they play a Clemson team that has been unimpressive in victories against Troy and Wofford. Clemson QB, Tahj Boyd, has put up impressive stats (38 CMP 59 ATT 525 YDS 64.4 CMP%) and looks to add to those numbers against an Auburn defense that is allowing 36 points a game. If Auburn is going to continue their unbeaten streak, they will have to win on the road and recent history says it might not get done in regulation. The last two meetings have gone into overtime with Auburn winning both of them. Auburn currently holds a 14 game winning streak over the Clemson Tigers.
Ole Miss (1-1) at Vanderbilt (2-0) – This is a big game for both teams, entering week 3. Ole Miss looks to remove a week 1 loss to BYU from the memory of it’s fanbase while Vanderbilt is looking to show the SEC that it can play with the big boys….and win. Vandy is about to launch into a grueling three week schedule that has them playing No. 2 Alabama and No. 10 South Carolina in back to back weeks following the Ole Miss game. A win, at home this week, for the Commodores would be a huge boost. Ole Miss has struggled on offense and is still trying to find it’s identity. A win for Vandy could ignite a doormant fanbase while a loss for the Rebels could put Coach Nutt in a tough position in the SEC West.
Tennessee (2-0) at No. 16 Florida (2-0) – Tyler Bray has put up gaudy passing numbers in the first two weeks (78.5 CMP% 698 YDS 7 TDS) but will face his first challenge this week in a hostile environment. The UT/Florida rivalry is a good one and should play out well on the field. The winner of this game has gone on to play in the SEC championship game 12 of 19 times. Recently,this rivalry has been lopsided with Florida holding a 6 game winning streak. This talented, young Tennessee team would love to end that streak and continue the impressive offensive production they’ve been experiencing. Florida hasn’t been challenged in the first two weeks but will be putting, as always, a fast team on the field and will look to pressure Tyler Bray. Turnovers will be a key factor in this high scoring affair and don’t be surprised to see a young Vol team get the upset.
Coastal Carolina (2-0) at Georgia (0-2) – The Dawgs face a Coastal Carolina team whose coach is asking for “more dogs”…
Navy (2-0) at No. 10 South Carolina (2-0) – Marcus Lattimore will look to continue his Heisman campaign against a Navy defense that held Western Kentucky to 124 rushing yards last week. Lattimore is not the only one looking to run in week 3. The Midshipmen are averaging a redonkulous 400 rushing yards a game, which accounts for about 85% of their total yards/game average. It should be fun watching South Carolina’s athletic defensive ends play against the option, especially #1 recruit Jadeveon Clowney. Stephen Garcia will be facing a Navy defense that is only allowing 148 passing yards/game. Garcia didn’t look too great last week, only throwing for 142 yards and 2 picks.
Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0)– I’m sure fans of both schools would
prefer this to be a basketball game given the lack of interest from UK football fans despite the 2-0 start. The undefeated record could be an after thought if the Wildcats don’t pick up a victory, at home, this week. After Louisville, the ‘Cats face No. 16 Florida, No. 3 LSU, and No. 10 South Carolina…..ouch. The ‘Cats offense will need to step up and improve on the 20.5 pts a game average although it may be enough to beat the Cardinals who aren’t doing much better at 19 pts a game. First to 20 wins.
North Texas (0-2) at No. 2 Alabama (2-0) – It doesn’t get much more lopsided than this. North Texas is surrendering 44.5 pts a game to the likes of Florida International and Houston…..far from a team ranked No. 2 in the nation after a convincing win over Penn State. The Mean Green will have it’s hands full on offense and defense as it faces one of the top defenses in the country and an offense that is improving every week. A.J. McCarron has stepped up, as Bama’s QB, while defenses are loading up to stop RB Trent Richardson. Richardson isn’t putting up Heisman numbers, like expected, mainly because of the emergence of McCarron and RBs Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler. Look for McCarron and Phillip Sims to each get plenty of snaps as Nick Saban looks to find a full time starter before next week’s showdown with the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Troy (0-1) at No. 14 Arkansas (2-0)– The Trojans are back to the field for
the first time in two weeks and draw a Razorback squad that is averaging almost 52 pts/game against its opponents. Troy will look to break the Hog’s 28-0 record against Sun Belt opponents and slow down an offense that has looked unstoppable. The Hogs get RB Dennis Johnson back and hope he will add another dimension to a running game that is still trying to find it’s identity after losing Knile Davis to an ankle injury. The Hogs also look to continue their success on special teams and on defense where they’ve only allowed a total of 10 pts. Arkansas will be tested with Troy’s no-huddle offense that took a 16-13 halftime lead against Clemson, only to get outscored by 27 in the second half. Plenty of Hog players will see action in this one and minimizing injuries will be a concern going into next week’s colossal game in Tuscaloosa, against Alabama.