SEC East's biggest subplots: Week 1
It’s finally here: Week one!
Can you believe it? You just endured a long off-season, and it’s now time to experience the best regular season in all of sports.
The SEC East could turn out to be a jumbled mess this season, with as many as four teams having a chance to win the division, but it makes for a thrilling storyline for 2014.
Here’s a look at the SEC East subplots for all week one action:
A telling affair: The South Carolina-Texas A&M game is interesting on so many levels. On one hand, the Gamecocks are favored by 10.5 at home and picked to win the SEC East, and they have a knack of blowing out opponents at Williams-Brice Stadium. On the other hand, nobody knows how Texas A&M will be or what they’ll look like, and should the Aggies upset the Gamecocks, it could send shockwaves through both divisions.
Hang half a hundred: Florida fans want points. They don’t care if it’s against lowly Idaho or not, and Florida needs to score 40 or 50 plus. The Gators are favored by 35 points; they didn’t even score 35 points in any game last season. Idaho was college football’s worst scoring defense in 2013, yielding over 46 points per game. So, if Florida doesn’t have some serious crooked numbers on the scoreboard, they have bigger issues. The Gators are much too talented, big and physical for Idaho, and beating the Vandals like a drum is a must. Yes, Kurt Roper won’t want to reveal too much of his offense, but at the same time, you have to think Will Muschamp and Roper want to score some serious points to energize the fan base.
Revenge: The clash between Clemson and Georgia is really the biggest game in college football, although College GameDay is at the Florida State-Oklahoma State game. Last year, Clemson beat the Dawgs in Death Valley, and Georgia gets to return the favor. With a Tajh Boyd- and Sammy Watkins-less Clemson offense, the Tigers should still have a nice offense and very good defense, particularly along the defensive line. Georgia, meanwhile, has two of its best receivers — Malcolm Mitchell (likely out) and Justin Scott-Wesley (suspended) — out of the game. Will the home crowd be enough to help lift Georgia to victory, or will Clemson ruin the party? This could be looked upon as a College Football Playoff elimination game.
Non-conference beat-downs: Kentucky (UT Martin), Missouri (South Dakota State) and Vanderbilt (Temple) all should thump their opening week non-conference opponents. Kentucky will start the season off right being 1-0, and Derek Mason will get his first big win as a head coach against Temple. The Maty Mauk era gets underway against South Dakota State, and the Tigers’ offense will put up some serious numbers.
Upset watch? Should Tennessee be on upset alert this week? Utah State brings in a nice team, along with one of the best players in the country in QB Chuckie Keeton. Yes, Tennessee should beat the Aggies no problem, but even Vegas says this game will be better than anticipated. Tennessee is only favored by 6.5 points ahead of Sunday. We’ll get a look at both lines of scrimmage and see just how much progress the defense has made this off-season. This is a crucial game for the Vols, and they can’t overlook the Aggies at all.