The season opens this Thursday night with Ole Miss visiting Vanderbilt and we have some doozies right off the bat:
Ole Miss – Vanderbilt. The Black Bears and the Dores get right to it. Both of these teams hope to go bowling again and the winner takes a major step forward, even though this is only week one. As the season grows older, and teams are jockeying for bowl eligibility and bowl position, don’t forget it started right here.
Auburn – Washington State. Speaking of bowl hopes, Gus Malzahn’s Tigers also take a major step forward if they beat the Cougars. But are Malzahn’s first edition Tigers better than Mike Leach’s second edition Coogs? That’s the big question.
Mississippi State – Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs are skipping the cupcakes for breakfast this year and getting right to the main dish. Despite being the first game of the year, this game will definitely tell us the direction of Dan Mullen’s program. I see this game as nothing but a loser for Oklahoma State. Kind of like Alabama playing Southern Miss. They definitely should win, but anything close makes them look bad.
South Carolina – North Carolina. This game sounds good – South Carolina vs. North Carolina – but I don’t think the final score will be close. Most folks will tune in to see if Jadeveon Clowney can be blocked or kills someone.
LSU – TCU. LSU is a program not afraid of out-of-conference big boys to open the season. The Tigers have played Oregon, Virginia Tech and West Virginia in recent years with lots of success. This is an interesting year for LSU – lots of losses from last years team, plus a new offensive coordinator, and for TCU as they try to bounce back from an ugly 7-6 2012.
Georgia – Clemson. A rivalry game with national championship implications. What a way to open the season for these two schools. For Clemson, this is a one-shot deal: win and they stay in the race, lose and they have no chance. For Georgia, a loss doesn’t kill them as they will have plenty of time – plus the opportunity to play in the SEC title game – to help them make their way back up the polls.
Alabama – Virginia Tech. When this game was booked, it sounded a lot better than it looks now. The Hokies are trying to bounce back from a dismal 7-6 record last year – very un-Beamer-like, while the Tide is shooting for three titles in a row.