Mitchell: SEC Week 3 Preview
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace
Posted Sep 14, 2012

If you're a fan of the SEC, this is hardly a conference slate to inspire awe, let alone chant over. Still, there's a gem or two to get your attention... Don't sleep on Ole Miss.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

I've been asked about it all week long from Florida to Hawaii, and yes, it's a little disappointing in week three this is the best the SEC can offer us. Still, there are some gems amidst the granite…not the least of which is the sudden importance once again of the Florida vs. Tennessee game. It's like we're back to the 1990s, grunge rock, Peyton, and the Head Ball Coach helping us out with the spelling of Citrus. Google it, you youngsters. (All Times Eastern Standard)

University of Louisiana Monroe vs. Auburn; 12:21. Don't look now, but the Warhawks could actually be leading the SEC West by 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon. Fun and games aside, there's no way Auburn – even in its current state of disrepair – should lose to this good Louisiana-Monroe team. The Arkansas defense and coaching staff had the mother of all terrible performances – ULM will see a step up in both when they kick off at 11:20 AM local time on the Plains. Pay attention to whether Auburn runs better than they did in Starkville last weekend; State held the Tigers to just 91 yards on 39 carries, for an anemic 2.3 ypc average. Auburn 25, ULM 21

Presbyterian vs. Vanderbilt; 12:30. Vandy's coach Jim Franklin was quick to point out Wednesday that his team has played two good teams in South Carolina and Northwestern...and he's right. Still, the Dores find themselves 0-2 having squandered several opportunities in both games. Most disappointing has been Vandy's rushing offense, which currently ranks 110th out of the 124 FBS teams. Through two games, senior Zach Stacy has yet to run for 100 yards...combined, placing him a woeful 23rd in the SEC and 180th in the nation. Conversely, Vandy's D is 29th in the country in total defense and tenth in pass efficiency defense; the run defense, however, is 92nd, and the Commodores must play at Georgia next weekend. That being said, it's not as if the Dawgs rushing game inspires awe, especially after a pedestrian effort last week in Missouri. Vanderbilt 35, Presbyterian 7

TAMU vs. SMU; 3:30. Through two games, SMUs defense might be the worst in the nation. What they can do well is throw the ball; transfer QB Garrett Gilbert (late of Texas) has been playing well in his first two games, and there are some question marks about this TAMU pass defense. Nevertheless, A&M's offense is more than dynamic enough to handle this poor Southern Methodist defense. Texas A&M 35, SMU 17

Alabama vs. Arkansas; 3:30. Arkansas was my preseason overrated team in the West. This wasn't going to be much of a game even with Tyler Wilson...certainly not after watching Arkansas give up 21 points in the first half of game one to Jacksonville State. Last Saturday, the Hogs coughed up 550 yards of offense to UL-Monroe. It's coaching staff barely ran the ball after getting ahead 28-7 and finding themselves relying on the rookie quarterback. 12 straight incompletions with Knile Davis standing around holding his…helmet. Arkansas' offensive line was regularly embarrassed and allowed Wilson to be sent to the hospital. Remember, this is all against the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Now here come the defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Hide the women and children. Bama's defense is going to squat on the line and key on Knile Davis like a fat kid on a banana split. Last year with Bobby Petrino, a healthy Wilson and a better defense, Alabama still destroyed the Razorbacks. You think the Tide care where this game is being played? Alabama 41, Arkansas 10

Florida vs. Tennessee; 6:00. The game of the week and Tennessee will win it. It's more likely that we'll see the Florida defense from the second half of the TAMU game, but playing at home, the Vols will be too dynamic on offense for a full four quarters for this Gators' D to handle. The Vols are getting Florida at the right time as well, with several Gators either out due to injury or playing well short of 100%. Of all the injuries, the one to starting tailback Mike Gillislee might prove to be the most costly for the Gators. Given how well Tennessee's defense front seven is playing, Gillislee's not being 100% should be enough to add additional pressure on the inexperienced Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel. Driskel showed heart, accuracy and gamesmanship in the second half last Saturday, but the sophomore still has happy feet under pressure – something this Vols front seven can apply. Although Tennessee took a slight drop in yards per carry from week one to two, its offensive line has been opening a bevy of holes. As a result, the Vols are averaging 188 yards rushing in its first two games; this from an offense that did not run for more than 150 yards once in 2011. Next to the improved play of the offense and defensive lines, the second thing that's helped Tennessee play above expectations has been a quick emergence of Juco transfer wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. And we haven't even mentioned the SEC's best quarterback, Tyler Bray. Nor the fact this offensive line is so far the best in the SEC at protecting the QB. Tennessee 24, Florida 17

Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky; 7:00. Don't look now, but as we discussed this Wednesday on Dick Gabriels' Big Blue Insider, Kentucky quarterback Maxwell Smith is off to a great start. The sophomore had a quarterback rating of 130 vs. Louisville and 187 against Kent State, with six touchdowns to zero interceptions. The Hilltoppers are beaten up after that thrashing down in Tuscaloosa. Backyard brawls are always difficult, but this one's Kentucky's to lose. Kentucky 23, Western Kentucky 13.

ASU vs. Mizzouri; 7:00. Arizona State under new head coach Todd Graham not surprisingly has a dynamic offense. Granted, so far they've played Northern Arizona and Illinois; still, the Sun Devils are relatively healthy and get the opportunity to play a Mizzou program licking its wounds from the beating it just took at the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs. Missouri's already lost five of its top 10 offensive lineman, and its coaches and players will have to quickly get over the disappointment of last Saturday's fourth-quarter collapse. ASU should be closer in offensive scheme to what the Tigers are accustomed to seeing from Big 12 opponents; that, combined with home-field advantage, should be enough for Missouri to get back on track. Missouri 38, Arizona State 31

Mississippi State vs. Troy; 7:00. Which is worse: TAMU playing AT SMU or State playing AT Troy? State looked great against Auburn – though clearly Auburn's defense is having a difficult time adjusting to new coordinator Brian VanGorder. The inexperienced Bulldog offensive tackles settled down after a rough first half and provided ample time for quarterback Tyler Russell, which helped the latter record a breakout performance. Russell looked steady in the pocket, went through his progressions smoothly, and had both good zip on the ball and great touch. There was a stretch during the third quarter where Russell look like he was the only player on the football field. State's defense can also play a little ball, and looked its usual physical self. State 35, Troy 10

UAB vs. South Carolina; 7:00. South Carolina's quarterback situation is still a mess, but the defense looked good last week against East Carolina. Expect more of the same against another over-matched opponent. South Carolina 40, UAB 17

Florida Atlantic vs. Georgia; 7:30. Georgia, just stay healthy. Work on your rushing attack while you're at it; it was less than impressive against the suspect, light and thin Missouri front seven. Georgia 48, Florida Atlantic 16

Idaho vs. LSU; 8:00. Idaho? UAB, Florida Atlantic, Troy, Presbyterian, Idaho… In week three. Sigh. With the way LSU is losing roster spots like a MASH unit, the first half should be about keeping Mettenberger and the offense clicking, and the second should be about getting reserves game experience. LSU 48, Idaho 7

Texas vs. Ole Miss; 9:15. This might be the most exciting game of the lot. Quarterback Bo Wallace has been a great surprise after two games for the Rebels. The transfer has picked up right where he left off after winning the Juco Most Valuable Offensive player of the year award. Currently, Wallace is eighth in the nation in pass efficiency and Ole Miss leads the SEC in total offense. Read that last bit again. Clearly the Rebs have a much bigger task before them in Texas, but this is a young Longhorn team that's one dimensional on both sides of the ball; it's struggled in run defense and passing offense, and they're absolutely beatable. The key to this game will be Ole Miss's offensive line keeping Wallace upright so that he can make plays with his arm and his feet. IF that happens look for the upset in Oxford. One thing's for sure: The Grove will be rocking all day and all night long IF Ole Miss can pull off the upset. Pick 'em

Russ Mitchell is CFN's lead SEC Columnist. Follow Russ for SEC and CFB analysis @russmitchellcfb

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