This Week in the SEC (Week 1 Football)

LSU College Football, Brandon Harris

This Week in the SEC (Week 1)

Football season is back people, and boy does it feel good. Especially down South, where many SEC fans are looking forward to dominating college football once again. After the streak ended last season of seven consecutive national championships, the SEC is looking to start a new streak, and there’s never a better time to do it with a new era: the College Football Playoff. There are many good games and many good teams to watch to kick off the season, and College Sports Madness has you covered.


SEC Power Rankings: Week 1
(SEC Opponents ranked by CSM Power Ranking. Non-conference opponents ranked by AP Top-25 ranking)

1) Alabama
Opponent: West Virginia
If Jacob Cocker lives up to his high expectations, Bama should have no problem taking care of the Mountaineers. If he doesn’t, Bama should have no problem taking care of the Mountaineers. You get the point.

2) Auburn  
Opponent: 14) Arkansas
Head coach Guz Malzahn will sit starting QB Nick Marshall due to marijuana possession. Do the Hogs have a chance against the defending SEC champs on the road? ...probably not.

3) South Carolina
Opponent: 8) Texas A&M
This is a very exciting game to kick-off the SEC football season, both teams with new starting quarterbacks. The difference in the game should be defense. If that’s the case, Gamecock fans should be feeling good.

4) LSU
Opponent: #14 Wisconsin
Five days to kickoff and Les Miles still hasn’t announced the starter at QB. He could be trying to delay Wisconsin’s game plan, or focus on making sure the NRG Stadium grass is in good shape.  

5) Georgia
Opponent: #16 Clemson
Georgia couldn’t think of a better way to start the season then a rematch versus Clemson. The Dawgs will be hungry at home.

6) Ole Miss
Opponent: Boise State  
Bo Wallace is back and leads a talented Rebel team into Atlanta against Boise State. Bronco head coach Bryan Harsin might not have a debut that he wants to remember.

7) Missouri
Opponent: South Dakota State
If Maty Mauk has trouble against the Jackrabbit defense, it may be a long year for Mizzou. But he won’t have trouble against a team named the Jackrabbits.

8) Florida
Opponent: Idaho
It’s Will Muschamp’s time to redeem himself after Florida’s worst season in decades. In other words: he better beat Idaho.

9) Texas A&M
Opponent: 3) South Carolina
How will a Johhny Manziel-less Aggie team look? South Carolina will let us know.  

10) Mississippi State
Opponent: Southern Miss
Dak Prescott has an opportunity to boost his stat sheet for the Heisman committee against Southern Miss.

11) Vanderbilt
Opponent: Temple
James Franklin moved north to State College, and the Derek Mason era begins. Can he build the team into an SEC contender? Ehh.

12) Tennessee
Opponent: Utah State
If Tennessee loses to Utah State, they may have to change their school song to Rocky Bottom. They should be fine…I think.

13) Arkansas
Opponent: 2) Auburn
Hog fans are already looking forward to basketball season. Too bad they aren’t good at that either.

14) Kentucky
Opponent: Tennessee-Martin
It could be another long season for Kentucky…but at least they have a good basketball team.


Game of the Week

#13 LSU vs #14 Wisconsin
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Saturday, 9:00 ET, ESPN

LSU hasn’t lost in a season opener since 2002, as Wisconsin travels all the way to Houston trying to end that streak. Both teams come into this top-25 matchup with new starting quarterbacks. UW already knows who their guy is: Junior Tanner McEvoy, who spent most of last season playing safety. He was moved from to safety after struggling at the quarterback position, and in fact, started three games on defense last year. When spring came around, he started focusing on playing QB again and impressed the coaches in spring and fall camp to get the nod against the Tigers. On LSU’s side, it’s a neck-and-neck race between Anthony Jennings and true freshman Brandon Harris. Jennings backed-up Zach Mettenberger last season as a freshman, and received little action in the first 11 games. But when Mettenberger tore his ACL late into the game against Arkansas, Jennings came in and led the team 99 yards, eventually throwing the game-winning touchdown. He wasn’t as successful in the Outback Bowl, going 9-17 with 82 yards, with no TD’s and a pick. In the Spring Game, Harris out-performed Jennings in throwing for 195 yards and tallying 4 total TD’s. Jennings? Two pick-sixes. They have both played well in fall camp, and Les Miles says he plans to announce a starter on Thursday. It could go either way.

The Bottom Line:
If the LSU defense can prevent Melvin Gordon from having a big game, the Tigers should be in good shape. Wisconsin needs McEvoy to produce and they need to keep Leonard Fournette and Terrance Magee from finding any openings if the Badgers have a shot. And, unfortunately for UW, they aren’t strong up-front. However, Gordon will be electric on offense, and if Fournette lives up to expectations he will be as well. The running backs in this game will be fun to watch. Both teams have young, talented rosters; it will be a good match-up.

This game will come down to the new quarterbacks. Regardless of who the starter is for LSU, he should out-perform McEvoy. I like LSU in this game because of the young talent, I don’t think UW can match that. Wisconsin does have a little more experience than LSU, but that won’t be the difference. I think the Badgers will put up a fight, but the young Tigers prevail.
Score: LSU 34, Wisconsin 23


Other games to watch:
#9 South Carolina vs #21 Texas A&M
#12 Georgia vs #16 Clemson
#18 Ole Miss vs Boise State  

Upset Alert:
Utah State over Tennessee

I’ll be at NRG Stadium as the Tigers take on Wisconsin in the Game of the Week. Follow me on Twitter for all the updates from Houston: @WScottCSM