SEC Football 2013 Week 1 Preview

By Scott Sergent

Welcome back to Coach Scooter's Playbook for the 2013 SEC Football season!

I am sure all of you are as excited for the start of the season as I am.  In fact, I have not been this excited since I found out Gary Danielson forgot to pick up his clown suit from the cleaners...

I wanted to get a unique perspective on what was going to happen this weekend, so I drove over to see my Aunt Molly on Sunday morning.  Driving over to her place is a bit of a challenge these days. Not so much the drive, but getting there by at least 11am.  No, not because she would be at church, but would be half in the bag by Noon, so my window of opportunity was short.

So without further ado, let's see what AM and I talked about on Sunday and how it is all going to shake down in Week 1:

North Carolina at #6 South Carolina

What a lot of people forget is Gamecock's Coach Steve Spurrier, who AM calls, "An Egg Suckin' Dog," coached against UNC when he was at Duke, and won all three games against their arch rivals so he knows a little bit about beating the Tar Heels.

UNC's Bryn Renner will lead an up tempo offense that has seen him throw for 54 touchdowns in the last two years.

Injuries to wide outs Bruce Ellington and Rory Anderson are a concern, but both should play.  And having Jadevon Clowney and a pretty good defensive line will give the Cocks enough time to get the offense headed in the right direction.

To be honest, I think Clowney scares Aunt Molly, and there are very dew things that scare her.  Empty bottles are usually at the top of her list, and now I think Clowney is just below that.  When I asked her about the Heisman Trophy candidate, she got this pained look on her face, and after sipping from her coffee mug, she replied, "That boy is mean enough to hunt bears with a hickory switch."

South Carolina 28 – North Carolina 20


Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt

This one will be interesting.  Both teams need this game to let the rest of the world know they will be a force in the Conference this year.  This is the type of game contenders win, and pretenders lose.

After beating Ole Miss in Oxford last year on a late fourth quarter TD pass to Chris Boyd, the 'Doors went on to finish SEC play with a 41-18 spanking of Tennessee, which AM has not gotten over yet.

"I can't believe we lost to those damn eggheads," she spit at me when I mentioned last year's game.

Vandy finished they year with wins over Wake Forest and N.C. State to finish with nine victories for the first time since 1915.

However, Boyd will not be playing in this game due to suspension, and Jordan Rodgers and Zac Stacy have graduated, so this is a different Vandy team that will face the Rebels.

Vandy holds the longest winning streak in the SEC with four in a row, and seven straight overall to end the year.  High Freeze and the Rebs won't let them get to eight.

Ole Miss 34 – Vanderbilt 14


Toledo @ #10 Florida

Holy Toldeo!  Don't be surprised if the Rockets will take this one into the fourth quarter within shouting distance of the heavily favored Gators.

Why you ask?  Because Florida snoozed past their three cupcakes last year with an offense that couldn't move the ball across the street.  This year, they have lost starting RB Matt Jones to an illness, so the Gators are going to have to find some points somewhere.

My thought is they will play about as hard as they need to and salt the game away in the fourth quarter.
 
Florida 21 – Toledo 7


Rice at #7 Texas A&M

When I asked Aunt Molly about Johnny Manziel and if all the controversy will be an issue once they start the season at home against Rice, she giggled and said, "That will last about as long as a fart in a whirlwind."

I have been hearing the theme from Cops all summer long when I think about the Aggies.  The bad boy of college football, Johnny Football, has been spending more time running from Johnny Law these days, and that is going to catch up with him sooner or later. It won't be this weekend.

SEC Football 2013 Week 1 Preview
Aug 7, 2013; College Station, TX, USA: Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) practices at Coolidge Field. Photo courtesy by - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

The Aggies will be playing a Rice team that gives away points like a Kresge's Santa Claus.  For those of you who don't know what Kresge's was, it was a five and dime store Aunt Molly used to take us to when she was babysitting.  We ended up getting banned from there when my sisters were caught switching price tags on merchandise and since that was one of Aunt Molly's favorite hangouts, that became a very sore subject in our house even to this day.

Texas A&M 52 – Rice 21


Mississippi State vs. #13 Oklahoma State at Houston

AM was once the President of the Knoxville Chapter of the Jerry Clower Fan Club (Don't ask) so by extension, she has a soft spot for Mississippi State since Clower played football for the Bulldogs and graduated from MSU.  HAWWWW!
She has always said, "Them boys are like a booger ya can't thump off," meaning they are a pesky bunch that are not easily beaten.

I think Oklahoma State can do the job.  They have an explosive offense led by arguably the best wide out in he Big 12 in Josh Stewart.  Add that to the fact the Bulldogs graduated Johnthan Banks, who won the Thorpe Award last year as the nations best defensive back and Darius Slay, and that means the Cowboys might have an easy day through the air.

Oklahoma State 49 – Mississippi State 28


Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas

Double L came within a blocked punt of taking Florida into Overtime in the Swamp last year, so they are no pushover.

Add to the fact the Hogs never stopped a throwing offense in 2012 (I think Johnny Manziel is still racking up yards on them), and you might have all the makings of another upset of Arkansas by a team from Louisiana.  Last year it was Louisana-Monroe, so could it be Lafayette's turn this time? Terrance Broadway can throw and make plays so he might be the difference on Saturday.

Rookie coach Bret Bielema will get things turned around in Fayetteville sooner or later, but the Hogs pen is a mess and it might take longer than one week to get it straightened out.

Louisiana-Lafayette 28 – Arkansas 24


#1 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech at Atlanta

Bama comes in as the #1 ranked team in the nation and defending champs.  What better for the Tide to open defense of their title than to play a Virginia Tech team that is not as dominate as it has been in years past.

Tech QB Logan Thomas started off nice last year, but late season tanks against teams they had to beat, namely Clemson, FSU and Miami left the Hokies with six losses, which is unusual in Blacksburg.

Meanwhile, Alabama rolls into Atlanta where they have not lost in the previous two opening games in the Georgia Dome with a dominant offense and a young but punishing defense.

When I asked AM about this one, she said, "I might have to lay a bet on this one since my money would be safer than a tick on a dog with a stiff neck."

Alabama 35 – Virginia Tech 7


Austin Peay at Tennessee

Well, it's time for Tennessee coach Butch Jones to show the Big Orange Nation what he is all about, and the schedule makers need to be well compensated for having Austin Peay come to Knoxville to begin the year.

The Vols were a train wreck last year, especially on defense where they looked so lost, they could have put their hands in their back pockets and still not found their butt.  (Courtesy of Aunt Molly Productions for that gem).

Baby steps begin in Knoxville on Saturday as the Vols will bring back some respectability to a floundering program.  They are not on he same field with UGA, Florida or Bama just yet so temper your expectations, but this should be a good confidence builder before the real games begin.

Tennessee 42 – Austin Peay 14


Washington State at Auburn

Auburn's 2012 season was so ugly, it had ten-foot pole marks all over it.  The Tigers did not win a game in the SEC last year, and only dominated two of its twelve opponents last year.

This year, they get the Mike Leach led Washington State Cougars who come to Auburn to see if they can rebuild from their awful season of a year ago.

The Cougs came to Auburn in 2006 and were thrashed 40-14, however, I do not see the same result this time since Leach has State headed in the right direction.

Auburn gets it done for rookie coach Gus Malzahn, but it will be close.

Auburn 21 – Washington State 17


Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky at Nashville

"Well knock me down and steal muh teeth," was the first thing Aunt Molly said when she found out Kentucky lost to Western Kentucky in Overtime last year in Lexington.

"That Kentucky loss was so ugly, Joker Phillips' cooties had to close their eyes," was another of her comments, which I tended to agree with.

Because they embarrassed themselves in Lexington last year, they decided to move this year's game to Nashville, which makes a lot of sense.  I guess Phenix City had something better to do that night so Nashville gets the honor of hosting this one.

Both teams have new coaches, but one has a little more to prove.  Bobby Petrino, who AM once described as, "That guy is as windy as a sack full of farts," meaning he lies a lot, was shunned as the head man in Lexington, so I am sure he has a chip on his slimy shoulder for this one. 

Oh what the heck, 'Toppers make it two in a row.

Western Kentucky 24 – Kentucky 14


Murray State at Missouri

Really?  I have to research this one?  I fell asleep five times looking over the game plan for both teams.

I found out Murray State throws the ball on every down, while Missouri is still recovering from a rude awakening to SEC football.

I picked an upset earlier.  Why not two?  I would, but I used to work with a guy who graduated from Murray State and he was a complete tool bag, so I would like to see his team go splat in Columbia on Saturday.

Missouri 35 – Murray State 34


#12 LSU vs. #20 TCU at Arlington

LSU ended last season with a loss in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and are anxious to get back to the field to make everyone forget that performance.  What better to get back on the winning track then a matchup with a ranked TCU team that will be missing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Devonte Fields.

Both teams get to begin the year in Jerry's House in Arlington, which is a pseudo home game for the Frogs, but not too far away for the Tigers so the place should be rocking.

Zack Mettenberger played better in the second half of last year, and with new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, he is in good hands.  Whether he shaved off that cheesy moustache is another story.

LSU's defensive lost eight starters, but Les Miles has recruited well and there should not be too much of a drop off in talent.

TCU returns eight starters on defense, and despite missing Fields, will not be easy to move against.

In a close, hard hitting, defensive football game, look for the team that can run the ball more effectively, and that means Jeremy Hill and a ferocious LSU running attack.

LSU 24 – TCU 20


#5 Georgia at #8 Clemson

What a great way to start the season with a top ten showdown between two old, bitter rivals separated by only 75 miles and Lake Hartwell.

Both teams have played spoiler to the other over the years.  UGA gave Clemson its only loss in 1978, 1982 and 1991, while the Tigers spoiled the defending national champions party the next year in 1981, as they gave the Dawgs their only regular season defeat in route to their first and only national championship.

Everyone here in Atlanta is excited for this one.  Even my wife, who is not a huge sports fan, told me the other day, "This is going to be an exciting night."  But don't go by what she says.  She said the same thing on our wedding night.

The Tigers are at home, and have not beaten UGA since 1990.  Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will move the sticks, while Aaron Murray and a slew of talented running backs will do the same for Georgia.

I remember the same script before the 2003 season as UGA came to Death Valley on the opening Saturday of the season and after everyone predicted a Dawg demise, they strolled out of town with a 30-0 victory.

And don't forget 2008 when #9 Clemson played Alabama on the opening Saturday in Atlanta and was crushed 34-10.

It's like my Aunt Molly always says, "Clemson is nothing but a big hat, and no cattle," which means they talk a good game, but never back it up.

Georgia 35 – Clemson 17

Read Scott Sergent's outstanding new book:


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