The 2007 season kicks off with all twelve teams in action, but only one conference contest (LSU at Miss State). Check back every week for league updates and game previews.
See you at kickoff!
Alabama vs. Western Carolina (7:00 ET)
Crimson Tide fans expect “St. Nick” Saban (or Nick Satan depending on your view) to have the Red Elephants rolling immediately. The strength of the Tide offense will be a passing game featuring QB John Parker Wilson (single season Alabama records for plays, attempts, completions, yards, total offense, and touchdowns in 2006) and senior receivers Keith Brown and DJ Hall. However, new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite may keep things vanilla in this one. Catamounts gained notoriety last year by being the only team to play the FBS champ (Florida) and the FCS champ (Appalachian State). They lost by a combined score of 93-9. Sounds about right.
Game Ball: Alabama
Arkansas vs. Troy (6:00 ET)
Head Hog Houston Nutt is glad to put a tumultuous off-season behind his squad, but playing the Trojans is no bargain. Arkansas features a couple of runaway Razorbacks at tailback in Heisman candidate Darren McFadden (1647 yds) and Felix Jones (1168 yds). Both are bigger homerun threats than A-Rod. QB Casey Dick should be more consistent and has a top target in Marcus Monk (50 rec; 11 TD but out until mid-September). Troy finished strong in 2006 by winning the last three - including a cooking of Rice in the New Orleans bowl. QB Omar Haugabook (26 total TDs) is the reigning Sun Belt POY and a real dual-threat. Trojans will not make bacon out of the Hogs- Arkansas wins.
Game Ball: Arkansas
Auburn vs. Kansas State (7:45 ET ESPN)
ESPN travels to the Plains for the K-State Wildcats and Auburn. Tigers QB Brandon Cox has plenty of experience but the rest of the unit needs seasoning. The O-line returns only one starter, and the backfield is deep but there is no clear top-notch tailback. Quentin Groves is an A-A type defensive end for Auburn. K-State features big soph QB Josh Freeman (6’6 250 lbs) who started the final 8 games last season; his top target is WR Jordy Nelson (84 career rec.). Auburn sometimes struggles in early season non-conference games (losses to Georgia Tech in 03 and 05; losses to USC in 02 and 03), but should de-claw the Cats.
Game Ball: Auburn
Florida vs. Western Kentucky (12:30 ET LFS)
The Tim Tebow era begins at the Swamp when Florida takes on the Hilltoppers. Conventional wisdom holds that the Gator offense will carry the team while the young and untested defense finds its reptilian legs. Maybe, but the Gators could be playing possum (the D is fast). That offense should be plenty good as head coach Urban Meyer can spread the wealth among a WR corps featuring Andre Caldwell, Cornelius Ingram, and speedy Percy Harvin. The defense is young, but fast and potentially explosive. Gators chomp WKU.
Game Ball: Florida
Georgia vs. Oklahoma State (6:45 ET ESPN2)
Nice matchup between the hedges when the Dogs try to wrangle the OSU Cowboys. Georgia sophomore QB Matthew Stafford rebounded from an erratic start to lead the Dogs to season-ending wins over ranked teams Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech. Stafford has plenty of skill position help, but the O-line looks like puppies and may start three freshmen. The Cowboys ride into town with an offense featuring QB Bobby Reid (500 yds rushing, 2266 passing, 24 TD) and wideout Adarius Bowman (1187 yds, 12 TD). This is a dangerous matchup for the Dogs who lost a lot on defense.
Game Ball: Georgia
Kentucky vs. Eastern Kentucky (6:00 ET)
Kentucky will be putting up points faster than a Bluegrass band picks a banjo. The Wildcats’ biggest star is QB Andre Woodson (3515 yds, 31 TD) who led the SEC in total offense and passing. His best weapons, receivers Keenan Burton (77 rec, 12 TD) and Dickey Lyons Jr (50 rec, 9 TD) and RB Raphael Little are back, so expect the Cats to light up the scoreboards. The Colonels of EKU have seasoned QBs in Josh Greco and Allan Holland and they led the OVC in offense at 355 ypg in 2006.
Game Ball: Kentucky
LSU at Miss State (8:00 ET ESPN)
See SEC Game of the Week Post
Game Ball: LSU
Ole Miss at Memphis (3:30 ET CSS)
Ole Miss tries to whip Memphis for the third straight season. The last two have been close (10-6 in 2005, 28-25 in 2006), but Rebel coach Ed Orgeron would take any style win. Senior Seth Adams starts at QB, and 1000 yard rusher BenJarvus Green-Ellis is back along with virtually the entire O-line. WR Mike Wallace is expected to be the top receiving target. Memphis hopes to rebound from a disastrous 06 campaign (2-10) behind senior QB Marty Hankins (2550 passing, 18 TD). Coach O won his first game at Ole Miss against Memphis, and counts the Tigers as victims in two of his seven total wins. He should get win #8 this week.
Game Ball: Ole Miss
South Carolina vs. LA-Lafayette (7:00 ET)
Steve Spurrier keeps imploring his Gamecocks to believe they can win the SEC. Don’t know if beating the Ragin Cajuns will help that confidence but it can’t hurt, especially if they have to do so without starting QB Blake Mitchell (appealing a one-game suspension for missing classes in summer school). The Gamecocks should still be able to handle LA-Laf with RFR Chris Smelley and sophomore Tommy Beecher at QB.
Game Ball: South Carolina
Tennessee at Cal (8:00 ET ABC)
Wonder how liberal Berkeley will welcome all the Big Orange fans from East Tennessee. Kind of like Fred Thompson at a Hillary Clinton rally. Two top QBs battle in the marquee game of opening weekend. Nate Longshore (3021 yds, 24 TD) of Cal throws to a fine receiving group led by DeSean Jackson. The Vols counter with senior Erik Ainge (41 career TD passes), but his main weapons are a deep running back stable (UT will be without leading rusher LaMarcus Coker). Cal will be a slight favorite in this one, but just like Big Fred could upset Hillary, Big Orange may cage the Bears.
Game Ball: Tennessee
Vanderbilt vs. Richmond (7:00 ET)
Shows how far Bobby Johnson has brought the Commodores when Vandy doesn’t have to worry much about an opponent. The Dores have some talent with QB Chris Nickson and WR Earl Bennett on offense, and LBs Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs on D. Should be plenty to squash the Spiders.
Game Ball: Vanderbilt
*Prof's Pigskin Picks are published in print each week as Bob Epling's Around the SEC, a regular feature of Game Day Weekly, a free college football newspaper based in Ridgeland, MS, and distributed by franchise owners in southern markets. Those interested in owning and operating a Game Day Weekly franchise should contact Stan Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(2007 Record 78-17 straight up ... Doc Epling does not pick against point spreads)