Week 3 SEC - Vandy-So Carolina & More, Part 2

Posted Sep 13, 2013

Week 3 - SEC Fearless Predictions, Vanderbilt at South Carolina & More, Part 2

- 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

Kent State (1-1) at LSU (2-0) Sept. 14, 7:00, ESPNU

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Is LSU ready to really start looking like a national title contender? It beat a strong TCU team by ten, and disposed of UAB without breathing hard, but the defense hasn't quite been up to its normal snuff and the offense isn't destroying teams, final scores aside. With SEC play up next against Auburn, and with a road game at Georgia to follow, this is the game to get the Cam Cameron/Zach Mettenberger passing game rocking and rolling against a Kent State team that's a far cry from the almost-BCS team of last year. After starting out the season struggling against Liberty, the Golden Flashes were thumped by Bowling Green in a 41-22 loss with a defense that gave up 24 unanswered points and an offense that didn't do anything over the final 34 minutes. This kicks off a tough run of five road games in the next six for Kent State. It's the first time the two programs have ever played.

Why Kent State Might Win: The Golden Flashes get their star back. Dri Archer was knocked out early against Liberty with an ankle injury and missed the game against Bowling Green – it showed. One of the most explosive players in the MAC, he's used as both a runner and a receiver, and at the very least he'll take all the focus off of the rest of the offense. He's the one guy LSU has to stop, and that might be easier said than done – he could be the best offensive pro prospect on the field. If the Tigers aren't taking this game seriously and are focusing on the SEC world ahead, there's a chance Kent State could hang around if Archer cranks out a few big plays. On the other side, the Golden Flash defense is just athletic and aggressive enough to give LSU problems for a few series, but …

Why LSU Might Win: It's not getting the job done. Bowling Green moved the ball at will in the second half of its win last week, throwing at will and running without a problem. The Falcon passing game was crisp and explosive, hitting on a 92-yard touchdown pass to break things open in the second half, and the ground game thundered away with a huge performance from Travis Greene. If LSU is trying, the offense should be able to do whatever it wants to thanks to the line. Kent State has an active defensive front, but it can be beaten on.

Who To Watch Out For: While all of the media attention seems to be on Zach Mettenberger and his progress, he's being helped by the emergence of his key receivers. The receiving corps wasn't exactly considered a weak link going into the season, but it had to be better. Odell Beckham, Jr. caught five passes in each of the first two games, rolling for 118 yards against TCU and 136 yards and three touchdowns against UAB. Jarvis Landry has been more than a No. 2 guy, catching eight passes for 109 yards and a score, and five grabs for 71 yards and two touchdowns against UAB. If these guys continue to shine, the rest of the offense should be wide open.

What Will Happen: Kent State's defense won't hold up. The offense will stall and stall some more, and the Tigers will take advantage of the easy opportunities to pull away in the second half.
Prediction: LSU 41 … Kent State 10
Line: LSU -37.5 o/u: 55
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 2

Vanderbilt (1-1) at South Carolina (1-1) Sept. 14, 7:00, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Florida might have looked vulnerable against Miami, and Georgia lost in non-conference play against Clemson, but for all intents and purposes, this is an elimination game after South Carolina lost to the Bulldogs last week and Vanderbilt dropped the SEC opener to Ole Miss.

For the Gamecocks, it's time to go on a nice run. There's a stretch of four road games in five weeks to follow, but they're all winnable against teams like Tennessee and Missouri, but they can't drop their guard coming off a tough shootout. They might have won the last four games in the series, but they've been battles, and this could be the best Commodore team of the last several years to deal with.

Vanderbilt gets layups against UMass and UAB up next, and while October looks brutal – Missouri, Georgia, at Texas A&M and at Florida – if it's good enough to win in Columbia, it'll be good enough to beat anyone else on the schedule. Every week seems to be statement time for James Franklin and his program, but a win this week could be the biggest and most important in his young tenure.

Why Vanderbilt Might Win: Is it possible the Gamecocks are already gassed? It happened in the middle of last year after a great start, losing a war to LSU and playing dead the two weeks after against Florida and Tennessee. It's really, really early, but the North Carolina game was hot and draining, and the Georgia showdown was a tough, physical track meet. When push came to shove, Georgia did the pushing and shoving and got more physical to take control of the game late. Vanderbilt doesn't exactly blast away, but if the offensive line can bully around Jadeveon and the boys early and take the fight to the Gamecock defense from Snap One, Vandy could find a way to get the running game working.

Why South Carolina Might Win: Can Vanderbilt force the mistakes needed to pull off the upset? The Commodores are now good enough to be able to win big games straight up, but they're not as talented as South Carolina and they're going to need a few breaks on the road – they're just not forcing them. They came up with one fumble recovery against Austin Peay, and that's been it for takeaways so far. Vanderbilt can't be on the wrong side of the turnover margin and win this, and it's also going to have to come up with a few big moments on special teams. That could be a problem with a kick and punt return game that's not generating anything so far.

Who To Watch Out For: Is it time to finally admit that Connor Shaw is a really, really good SEC quarterback? Aaron Murray lit up the South Carolina secondary and was the star in last week's game, and it's always going to be hard to get too much attention in a league with Johnny Manziel, Zach Mettenberger, Jeff Driskel – for good and bad – and James Franklin, but Shaw is proving that he's more than just a baller. He ran for a tough 75 yards against Georgia, but he also showed nice passing touch and a good deep arm.

What Will Happen: Jadeveon Clowney will come up with the type of game everyone has been waiting for. It'll be a tired South Carolina team, but it'll still be good enough to slug it out for a tough win over the pesky Commodores.
Prediction: South Carolina 26 … Vanderbilt 20
Line: South Carolina -13.5 o/u: 50.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) ... 3.5

- 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