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Week 1 Fearless Predictions - SEC, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 30, 2013


Week 1 Fearless Predictions - SEC, Part 2 Wazzu-Auburn & More

Washington State (0-0) at Auburn (0-0) Aug. 31, 7:00, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It may only be Week 1, but this is a huge game for both of the coaches, offensive gurus Gus Malzahn and Mike Leach. There’s been an awful lot of chatter since Malzahn replaced Gene Chizik early last December. Auburn fans finally get a chance to see how their team has been progressing on the field. Malzahn was Chizik’s offensive coordinator during the 2010 national title run, but he inherits a team that went winless in SEC play in 2012. Wazzu’s Leach is starting his second year on the Palouse. His debut was a disappointment, matching Auburn’s dismal 3-9 mark. Leach is demanding a higher level of consistency from his kids, but the Cougars’ roster isn’t jam-packed with All-Pac-12 candidates. An upset on the Plains, even over a rebuilding Auburn program, would provide the tailwind victory that Leach is pining for in 2013.
Why Washington State Might Win: The Cougars’ offense will inevitably be improved in Leach’s second year on the job. And the Cougs will open against an Auburn D undergoing a facelift in the back seven. The Tigers were horrendous in 2012, and S Demetruce McNeal was just booted from the team. As expected, Washington State will take to the air with QB Connor Halliday, whose deep corps of receivers is headed by field-stretcher Dominique Williams.
Why Auburn Might Win: Wazzu is dangerous, but it’s not going into Jordan-Hare Stadium on opening day and beating an SEC team. The Tigers offense certainly won’t be a finished product, but it will have a little more spark and pop than a year ago. RB Tre Mason, whose been itching for an opportunity to be a feature guy, will have the luxury of running behind a line returning four of its starters.
Who To Watch Out For: All eyes will be on Auburn dual-threat Nick Marshall, the school’s seventh starting quarterback to start an opener in the last seven years.

- Washington State could be sneaky-good on defense this year. The unit overachieved in 2012, and returns a bunch of producers, including S Deone Bucannon and LB Darryl Monroe.

- Auburn could create mismatches with the Wazzu O-line, which is shaky. The Tigers want to attack out of a 4-2-5 under new coordinator Ellis Johnson, even without injured star DE Dee Ford.

- Saturday marks the debut of Auburn DE Carl Lawson, the five-star gem who has impressed the coaching staff throughout practice.

- With Leach and Malzahn in the same building, the under-over on the game time ought to be set at four hours. Take the over.

What Will Happen: Auburn will win Malzahn’s debut, but not without some tenuous moments along the way. The Tigers will get a lift from Marshall and Mason on the ground. However, the D will win the day for the home team, harassing the Washington State quarterbacks into a number of critical mistakes.
Prediction: Auburn 27 … Washington State 23
Line: Auburn -16 o/u: 60
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 3

Murray State (0-0) at Missouri (0-0) Aug. 31, 7:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: While there’s some tweaking to be done, Murray State has a dangerous enough offense to give the Tigers more than just a light scrimmage. The Racers finished fifth in the FCS in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense, but there was one slight problem; the defense didn’t show up. This is a good enough team to win the Ohio Valley Conference, but still, Mizzou needs to come out roaring to prove that it really is a new year and a new attitude for a team that could be the sleeper in the East. Never quite healthy last year and never consistent, the Tigers now have the pieces in place to come up with a great year, but there are some interesting low-level shootouts ahead against Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. First, it’s all about tuning up and getting back to the Big 12 form.
Why Murray State Might Win: Did the Missouri secondary improve in the offseason? The lack of a steady pass rush was the biggest culprit, but the secondary didn’t do its part with just seven picks. There’s speed and a boatload of talent, but now it’s time for the production to come. If Murray State has the quarterback situation settled with KD Humphries taking over for Casey Brockman, the passing game could put up big numbers.
Why Missouri Might Win: The Racers are going to be like wet tissue paper to rumble through. They got by last year on offense and will have to do it again. The D was a disaster, especially in the secondary, and Mizzou will try to get the passing game going with big play after big play. But first, just getting into a rhythm and getting quarterback James Franklin into a groove will be a start. After a rocky season, he needs to come up with a near-perfect opening act, but all the attention will be paid to …

Who To Watch Out For: Running back Henry Josey. The hope has been for the full recovery of the 5-10, 190-pound junior from a brutal knee injury suffered in 2011 against Texas that knocked him out for the last year and a half, but he’s healthy again and he has his speed back – he’ll be one of the fastest backs in the SEC. When he was right, he was a weapon tearing off six 100-yard games in seven weeks with 263 yards and three scores against Western Illinois and 162 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M two years ago.
What Will Happen: It might not have seemed like it last year, but Missouri is actually an SEC team, and for this week, it’s going to start to look like it.
Prediction: Missouri 58 … Murray State 13
Line: Missouri -38
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 1

Washington State (0-0) at Auburn (0-0) Aug. 31, 7:00, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It may only be Week 1, but this is a huge game for both of the coaches, offensive gurus Gus Malzahn and Mike Leach. There’s been an awful lot of chatter since Malzahn replaced Gene Chizik early last December. Auburn fans finally get a chance to see how their team has been progressing on the field. Malzahn was Chizik’s offensive coordinator during the 2010 national title run, but he inherits a team that went winless in SEC play in 2012. Wazzu’s Leach is starting his second year on the Palouse. His debut was a disappointment, matching Auburn’s dismal 3-9 mark. Leach is demanding a higher level of consistency from his kids, but the Cougars’ roster isn’t jam-packed with All-Pac-12 candidates. An upset on the Plains, even over a rebuilding Auburn program, would provide the tailwind victory that Leach is pining for in 2013.
Why Washington State Might Win: The Cougars’ offense will inevitably be improved in Leach’s second year on the job. And the Cougs will open against an Auburn D undergoing a facelift in the back seven. The Tigers were horrendous in 2012, and S Demetruce McNeal was just booted from the team. As expected, Washington State will take to the air with QB Connor Halliday, whose deep corps of receivers is headed by field-stretcher Dominique Williams.
Why Auburn Might Win: Wazzu is dangerous, but it’s not going into Jordan-Hare Stadium on opening day and beating an SEC team. The Tigers offense certainly won’t be a finished product, but it will have a little more spark and pop than a year ago. RB Tre Mason, whose been itching for an opportunity to be a feature guy, will have the luxury of running behind a line returning four of its starters.
Who To Watch Out For: All eyes will be on Auburn dual-threat Nick Marshall, the school’s seventh starting quarterback to start an opener in the last seven years.

- Washington State could be sneaky-good on defense this year. The unit overachieved in 2012, and returns a bunch of producers, including S Deone Bucannon and LB Darryl Monroe.

- Auburn could create mismatches with the Wazzu O-line, which is shaky. The Tigers want to attack out of a 4-2-5 under new coordinator Ellis Johnson, even without injured star DE Dee Ford.

- Saturday marks the debut of Auburn DE Carl Lawson, the five-star gem who has impressed the coaching staff throughout practice.

- With Leach and Malzahn in the same building, the under-over on the game time ought to be set at four hours. Take the over.

What Will Happen: Auburn will win Malzahn’s debut, but not without some tenuous moments along the way. The Tigers will get a lift from Marshall and Mason on the ground. However, the D will win the day for the home team, harassing the Washington State quarterbacks into a number of critical mistakes.
Prediction: Auburn 27 … Washington State 23
Line: Auburn -16 o/u: 60
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 3

Murray State (0-0) at Missouri (0-0) Aug. 31, 7:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: While there’s some tweaking to be done, Murray State has a dangerous enough offense to give the Tigers more than just a light scrimmage. The Racers finished fifth in the FCS in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense, but there was one slight problem; the defense didn’t show up. This is a good enough team to win the Ohio Valley Conference, but still, Mizzou needs to come out roaring to prove that it really is a new year and a new attitude for a team that could be the sleeper in the East. Never quite healthy last year and never consistent, the Tigers now have the pieces in place to come up with a great year, but there are some interesting low-level shootouts ahead against Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. First, it’s all about tuning up and getting back to the Big 12 form.
Why Murray State Might Win: Did the Missouri secondary improve in the offseason? The lack of a steady pass rush was the biggest culprit, but the secondary didn’t do its part with just seven picks. There’s speed and a boatload of talent, but now it’s time for the production to come. If Murray State has the quarterback situation settled with KD Humphries taking over for Casey Brockman, the passing game could put up big numbers.
Why Missouri Might Win: The Racers are going to be like wet tissue paper to rumble through. They got by last year on offense and will have to do it again. The D was a disaster, especially in the secondary, and Mizzou will try to get the passing game going with big play after big play. But first, just getting into a rhythm and getting quarterback James Franklin into a groove will be a start. After a rocky season, he needs to come up with a near-perfect opening act, but all the attention will be paid to …

Who To Watch Out For: Running back Henry Josey. The hope has been for the full recovery of the 5-10, 190-pound junior from a brutal knee injury suffered in 2011 against Texas that knocked him out for the last year and a half, but he’s healthy again and he has his speed back – he’ll be one of the fastest backs in the SEC. When he was right, he was a weapon tearing off six 100-yard games in seven weeks with 263 yards and three scores against Western Illinois and 162 yards and a touchdown against Texas A&M two years ago.
What Will Happen: It might not have seemed like it last year, but Missouri is actually an SEC team, and for this week, it’s going to start to look like it.
Prediction: Missouri 58 … Murray State 13
Line: Missouri -38
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 1