What to watch for in the SEC West this weekend


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The SEC West lineup features a non-conference extravaganza, and here’s everything to look for tomorrow:

#1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech

Player to watch: RB TJ Yeldon
Freshman to watch: RB Derrick Henry
Buzz: Alabama should have a field day with Virginia Tech. Frank Beamer called the Tide the ‘most talented team he’s ever coached against’. The good thing, if any, VT has going for them is a dual-threat veteran QB Logan Thomas, but that may be where it stops. The Tide defense should control the Tech offense, and the Bama running game should get a heavy dose in the second half. Look for backups Altee Tenpenny and Derrick Henry to get some serious carries behind Yeldon.

Related: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech preview

Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas

Player to watch: RB Jonathan Williams
Freshman to watch: RB Alex Collins
Buzz: If you want the greatest chance for an upset week one, this is the game you want to tune into. Arkansas should handle the Ragin’ Cajuns, but they return 13 starters off a 9-4 2012 team. The Hogs should keep the offense in check, and a steady dose of Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins will be imperative. The Bielema era should get off to a 1-0 start, but don’t sleep on Louisiana.

Washington State at Auburn

Player to watch: QB Nick Marshall
Freshman to watch: DE Carl Lawson
Buzz: The debut of the Gus Bus and Nick Marshall is imminent. Two offensive minds in Malzahn and Mike Leach will go to work on The Plains, but eyes around the country will be on Auburn. Don’t expect this to be a low-scoring affair. Wait until you see monster DE Carl Lawson, who looks like he’s 35 already.

Related: Auburn vs. Washington State preview

#12 LSU vs. #20 TCU

Player to watch: QB Zach Mettenberger
Freshman to watch: DT Christian LaCouture
Buzz: The Tigers have won 10 straight season openers and a college football-high 41 straight non-conference games. LSU always has swagger in the opening game, but this could turn into a low-scoring, defensive grudge match. The good thing for the Tigers is LSU is built to win that type of game, grinding out a fourth-quarter victory.

Related: LSU vs. TCU preview

Mississippi State vs. #13 Oklahoma State

Player to watch: RB LaDarius Perkins
Freshman to watch: DL Chris Jones
Buzz: This is one game everyone’s excited to watch. The game is huge, not only for an upset potential, but for fertile recruiting grounds in the Houston area. Dan Mullen is 2-16 against ranked opponents, but this could be his signature victory. MSU will score points on offense, but the secondary’s three new starters will be under the microscope. I fully anticipate this game being much closer than it appears going in. The Big 12 would internally combust if this upset were to occur.

Related: MSU vs. OSU preview; OSU talking SEC trash

Rice at #7 Texas A&M

Player to watch: QB Kenny Hill (FR)
Freshman to watch: WR Ricky Seals-Jones
Buzz: Yes, Johnny Manziel’s playing the second half, and yes, it will be a good time for your kids to take a nap or play outside, because it’s going to get really ugly in the second half. True freshman Kenny Hill will start, and he looks like the real dual-threat deal. He’ll hook up with fellow freshman Ricky Seals-Jones early and often. And if you’re Rice, what do you tell your team at halftime, before Johnny’s encore appearance? Good luck with that one. This game will get ugly in a hurry.

Related: Why we all won with Johnny’s suspension 

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports



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