A bold prediction for every SEC game in Week 1
Fire up the grill, load up the cooler, get ready to go. It’s time for SEC football, which means time for us to get bold.
Here at the bold prediction department, we take a crack at some events that range from the unlikely to the insane … and see if a couple of them come to pass. Which couple? Well, that’s half the fun. We don’t know either, but here’s a bold prediction for each SEC Week 1 game, starting with tonight’s game: Texas A&M vs. Texas State.
Texas A&M vs. Texas State: Aggies pitch a shutout
Year 2 from Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M is about making sure that it’s clear that the Aggies belong in the upper echelon of the SEC. Defensive coordinator Mike Elko improved the unit by 5.4 points and 60 yards per game in Year 1. He leads off Year 2 with a shutout against Texas State on Thursday night.
Alabama vs. Duke: Tide’s defense will outscore Duke’s offense
No, this game won’t be competitive. What will be competitive is seeing if the Tide defense can score as often as the Duke offense. We vote for yes. A pick-6 for Patrick Surtain and one of the big nasties up front picking up a scoop and score are in the forecast. Honestly, it’d be a better game if the Alabama defense had to actually play offense.
LSU vs. Ga. Southern: LSU will have to fight … for a half
There’s always a handful of crazy Week 1 upsets, and given how good the opponent is, don’t be shocked if LSU/Georgia Southern looks like one of those games for 30 minutes or so. Southern went 10-3 last year, and between mobile QB Shai Werts and transfer RB J.D. King from Oklahoma State, they’ll pound the ball, eat clock and keep the game close — at least for a half. LSU will pull away comfortably in the 2nd half, but expect some early struggle.
Auburn vs. Oregon: Uh-oh, Gus
There, we said it. No, the Tigers really shouldn’t have that much trouble with Oregon. But remember a year ago when the Tigers gave up 296 passing yards to Washington in that opener? They’ll have similar problems stopping Oregon, which returns 10 starters on offense. Maybe Bo Nix can pull this one out of the fire … but if not, it’s the Gus Bus that’ll be on the hot seat immediately.
Miss. State vs. UL-L: Tommy Stevens leads the league
Mississippi State will be glad to get the focus back on the field and away from the NCAA issues, and given the fast starts that Joe Moorhead’s team made last season, expect to see one Saturday. A year ago, Keytaon Thompson passed for 364 yards in the opener. This year, Tommy Stevens will be the league’s leading Week 1 passer as the Bulldogs roll over Louisiana.
Ole Miss at Memphis: Rebels will score 60 (and give up 40)
Ole Miss opens at Memphis, which could be a challenging game. That said, Memphis won’t stop the Rebels … which is good, because the Tigers will pile up some points. Yes, virtually everybody is back for the defense at Mississippi … but it’s the same guys who gave up 36 points per game last year. Remember that 76-41 game in Week 2 against Southern Illinois? Ole Miss gave up 629 yards in that one. They won’t give up quite that many yards this time, and they’ll win, but it won’t be a game for defensive purists, because they’ll give up 40 to the Tigers.
Arkansas vs. Portland State: Rakeem Boyd goes for 200
Arkansas has a get-right opener with Portland State, and don’t be surprised if the Razorbacks use the week to focus on a ground game that was fairly anemic in 2018 (143 rushing yards per game, 3.9 yards per carry). That’s good news for Rakeem Boyd, who is overlooked despite his 6.0 yards per carry for said anemic offense in 2018. Look for Boyd to rip off a couple of huge runs and post a Darren McFadden-like effort for the Razorbacks with 200 rushing yards.
Georgia at Vandy: A big game, by George
Georgia won’t have a ton of trouble with Vanderbilt, and in fact, will get to see plenty of new faces, particularly at wide receiver, where it’s very much open competition for who will catch all of Jake Fromm’s passes. One name to remember is true freshman George Pickens, who has the size and speed to be the next great Georgia receiver. We’re guessing we see that Saturday, with a 100 yards receiving and an impressive touchdown grab.
Missouri at Wyoming: Big day for Big Albert
Missouri has a lot of offensive weapons that they’ll put on display at Wyoming, notably tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. You don’t see guys like Albert O in the MWC. Given that Mizzou will be fine-tuning Kelly Bryant’s passing game, look for Big Al to make the plays in the red zone … a couple TDs and 100 yards? Missouri can pick the score in this one.
South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Gamecocks will be saved late … by the freshman
No, the SEC’s Carolina won’t lose to that basketball school up the road. They will have to fight to avoid it, though. Mack Brown’s team will be outmanned, but ready to fight, and Jake Bentley is going to be in full-on bad Jake mode early in this game. South Carolina will rally in the 4th-quarter to win … with Ryan Hilinksi at quarterback. You heard it here first.
Tennessee vs. Georgia State: 2 100-yard backs for UT
Tennessee will have no trouble with Georgia State, and Jeremy Pruitt will use the game to try to hone his ground game, which rushed for just 129 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry in 2018. Says here that Ty Chandler and Tim Jordan find their way to the 100-yard mark before giving way to the youngsters. Tennessee needs a dependable back (or 2) to help keep Jarrett Guarantano upright in SEC play, and they start developing it with some big production in Week 1.
Kentucky vs. Toledo: Bowden scores 3 ways
Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden hardly qualifies as a surprise, but what might surprise is that he’s actually a good passer. Bowden has taken some Wildcat snaps this fall, and he can actually throw the ball around the field. Says here that while UK will have some hiccups in beating Toledo, Bowden will catch a touchdown, throw a touchdown and return a kick for a touchdown.