Week 3 SEC - Miss St-Auburn & More, Part 1

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Week 3 - SEC Fearless Predictions, Mississippi State at Auburn & More, Part 1

- Alabama vs. Texas A&M | Ole Miss at Texas 
- Tennessee at Oregon | Miss St at Auburn & More, Part 1 
- Vanderbilt at South Carolina & More, Part 2

Louisville (2-0) at Kentucky (1-1) Sept. 14, 12:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: It's the annual battle for the Governor's Cup in the commonwealth, with a couple of twists. Louisville moved up a notch to No. 7 in the polls after disposing of Eastern Kentucky, 44-7. For the Cardinals, which are dealing with a lack of national respect, handling an SEC team, any SEC team, might earn them a mini-boost in Q rating. Louisville won't get many chances to turn heads, and this is one of them … kind of. Wildcat Mark Stoops will be coaching in his first one of these heated rivalries, meaning he has a chance to turn a few in-state fans over from red to blue. Kentucky posted a much-needed rout of Miami U. following an opening day loss to Western Kentucky, providing the program with something it can build upon as it begins a rugged stretch.
Why Louisville Might Win: Kentucky is light in ready-made secondary talent. This is the week that the unit gets exposed. You can't hide a weakness in pass defense when Teddy Bridgewater is in the huddle. The future first-round pick has already thrown for nine touchdowns and 752 yards, despite finishing neither game. The junior has all kinds of talent on the outside, including TE Gerald Christian and receivers DeVante Parker and Damian Copeland. Plus, focusing on the passing game will leave the ‘Cats vulnerable to Senorise Perry and Michael Dyer on the ground.
Why Kentucky Might Win: Was last week's offensive outburst a harbinger of things to come in Lexington? The new up-tempo attack scorched the RedHawks for 675 yards, 413 of which was through the air. QB Maxwell Smith was on target all day, milking 310 yards and three touchdowns out of just 15 completions. The Louisville cornerbacks are green, and the pass rush has had a penchant for disappearing at times under head coach Charlie Strong. Hotshot offensive coordinator Neal Brown believes he has the gameplan needed to hang with the high-efficiency Louisville offense.
Who To Watch Out For: If Kentucky is to have success with the ball, someone will need to get a consistent helmet on Louisville linebackers Preston Brown and James Burgess, who will make stops in all directions.

- Though still raw, Javess Blue has the ability to become the Wildcats' most explosive receiver. Strong might be inclined to slide one of his all-star safeties, Calvin Pryor or Hakeem Smith, over for support of the corners.

- The Cards have done a job of protecting Bridgewater so far, but Kentucky brings unique challenges, such as DE Za'Darius Smith. The East Mississippi Community College transfer already has four sacks, setting the stage for a key matchup with the Louisville tackles.
What Will Happen: The Commonwealth Stadium crowd will be revved up, and Kentucky is clearly headed in the right direction under Stoops, but beating Louisville is still a tall order. Bridgewater's shadow is long, and he'll cast it upon a Wildcat secondary ill-equipped to handle the quarterback's targets. Kentucky will compete, even delivering a few money plays on offense, but it won't be enough to offset the prolific and balanced Cards' attack.
Prediction: Louisville 37 … Kentucky 21
Line: Louisville -12.5 o/u:: 59
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 3

Southern Miss (0-2) at Arkansas (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:21, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: One more game left on the homestand before things start getting very interesting for Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated Louisiana and Samford in the first two games of the Bret Bielema era in Fayetteville, but up next is a trip to Rutgers, followed by a visit from Texas A&M. If the Hogs are going to tweak on both sides of the ball, now is the time to do it. Southern Miss, to the contrary, is in the midst of a three-game road swing, losers of its first two games with Texas State and Nebraska. The Golden Eagles are going to take their lumps in Todd Monken's first season in Hattiesburg, attempting to lay a foundation on which it can really start building in 2014.
Why Southern Miss Might Win: Arkansas did not play especially well last Saturday, needing to rally in the final stanza to escape the clutches of an FCS opponent. Samford had success on the ground against the Hogs, getting 105 yards from RB Fabian Truss. The Golden Eagles will strive for similar production out of Tyre Bracken and Kendrick Hardy, while mixing in throws from Cal transfer Allan Bridgford.
Why Arkansas Might Win: After seeing Southern Miss get stampeded by the Huskers last week, similar results are expected this weekend at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Hogs are looking an awful lot Bielema's old Wisconsin teams, producing two 100-yard rushers, sophomore Jonathan Williams and touted rookie Alex Collins, in each of the first two wins. A Travis Swanson-led O-line averaging close to 320 pounds will have few problems powering the Eagles off the line of scrimmage.
Who To Watch Out For: How will Arkansas QB Brandon Allen perform in crunch time? No one knows for sure since the offense has leaned so heavily on the backs. Allen, though, has formed a connection with WR Javontee Herndon, who's already caught three touchdown passes in his first year as a starter.

- Two games, one sack. Southern Miss will need to do a much better job of getting into the backfield in order to slow down the Arkansas attack.

- The Eagle O-line, on the other hand, will be in a 60-minute battle with an underrated Arkansas front spearheaded by DT Robert Thomas and ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers. The trio has accounted for five sacks in two games.
What Will Happen: Arkansas will feed Southern Miss a steady diet of Collins and Williams, mixing in the occasional play-action passes from Allen. The Hogs will control the clock, wearing out an overmatched Eagle defense in the sweltering heat. Once Arkansas' bulge reached two touchdowns, this one will be over.
Prediction: Arkansas 41 … Southern Miss 13
Line: Arkansas -22 o/u: 50.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2

Mississippi State (1-1) at Auburn (2-0) Sept. 14, 7:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Very quietly, Auburn has started out the season 2-0, and it might be a better 2-0 than it first appeared. Hanging on for dear life against Washington State didn't seem like a positive at the time, but now, after the Cougar upset over USC, it might not be that bad. Arkansas State could end up winning the Sun Belt title, and the Tigers just came up with an easy home win. Now comes the fun part, though, with the start of the SEC season and one of the easier games on the slate. With LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M up next, Auburn can't afford to give away a home game against a beleaguered Bulldog program.

Auburn knows all too well what it's like to try to play football while the rest of the world is focusing on a controversy, and now Mississippi State has to do the same after the allegations from a Yahoo! Sports report. On the field, the lifeless offense against Oklahoma State – speaking of issues – woke up and rocked against Alcorn, and with Troy up next to kick off a run of four straight home games, there's a chance to go on a decent run with a win in the SEC opener.

The Bulldogs won 28-10 last season, but lost the previous four in a row after last winning at Auburn in 2007.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: So far, teams aren't having problems moving the chains on the Auburn defense. It's not like Arkansas State went crazy, despite throwing for 272 yards, and Washington State needed 65 pass attempts to get to 344 yards, but in both games, the Tigers gave up a ton of first downs. Arkansas State came up with 24 first downs and Washington State 28, and Mississippi State, for all the problems and inconsistencies so far, has been fantastic at grinding out the clock and holding on to the ball, keeping it for almost 39 minutes against Alcorn State and over 34 minutes against Oklahoma State. MSU has to keep the Auburn offense off the field and control the game. However …

Why Auburn Might Win: Oddly enough, Mississippi State isn't converting on third down chances. Hanging on to the ball and slowing things down is one thing, but moving the chains and finding an offensive flow is another, and MSU is converting just 24% of its third down tries hitting on just 2-of-16 chances against Oklahoma State. Auburn's defense hasn't been perfect, but it did a great job of bending, not breaking against Arkansas State. When push came to shove late against Washington State, Auburn held. Mississippi State might be able to crank up a few yards, but the Tigers should be able to stiffen in the red zone.

Who To Watch Out For: Who'll be at quarterback for the Bulldogs? Tyler Russell is practicing again after suffering a head injury in the loss to Oklahoma State, but it might be Dak Prescott's ship to fly again. He was fine against Alcorn State, but not special, completing 12-of-19 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Russell is the better option, and the program needs him healthy to have any shot of making any noise in SEC play, but he can't be rushed back. Auburn will prepare for both options.

What Will Happen: Auburn might not be pretty, and it might not be cranking up the Gus Malzahn offense like it will in the near future, but it's doing a decent job of just getting by. Don't expect fireworks, but look for a good game from all three phases to survive and move on.
Prediction: Auburn 27 … Mississippi State 23
Line: Auburn -6 o/u: 53
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 3

- Alabama vs. Texas A&M | Ole Miss at Texas 
- Tennessee at Oregon | Miss St at Auburn & More, Part 1 
- Vanderbilt at South Carolina & More, Part 2