by Bob Epling
The Campus Game
Who will get the flu in week number two?
With a fairly light conference schedule, one nice intersectional matchup, and three teams taking a week off, the most interesting SEC stories may be told in the campus infirmary this week.
With colleges across the nation battling against a difficult (and potentially dangerous) flu season, SEC football teams best be washing hands and coughing into elbows.
Ole Miss has been hit hardest.
More than twenty Rebels were not able to practice by midweek, including many starters (QB Jevan Snead, OT John Jerry, and WRs Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster among them). McCluster actually visited the hospital for fluids.
Good news for the Rebs? No game this week and trainer Tim Mullins reported to the Jackson Clarion Ledger that the situation has eased as the week progressed.
Georgia's diagnosis was not so good last weekend.
Starting QB Joe Cox did not travel to Oklahoma State with the team initially (arriving on a later flight Friday evening) after suffering flu-like symptoms at mid-week. Dog fans better hope that illness contributed to a mediocre showing by Cox and the entire offense in a loss to OK State. The Bulldogs also lost offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant for a second consecutive season to a left knee injury.
Other than the Georgia defeat, the conference as a whole came through week one unscathed.
All three coaching newcomers won impressively in their openers. Lane Kiffin and Tennessee romped Western Kentucky, Auburn handled Louisiana Tech in Gene Chizik's debut, and Dan Mullen successfully started his Miss State career when the Bullies whipped Jackson State.
Two other conferences rivaled the SEC for most impressive opening weekends.
The Big 12, by virtue of State's win over Georgia and Baylor's win at Wake Forest, looked strong (although losses by Oklahoma and Colorado dampened the day).
The Mountain West gained some bragging rights when Colarado State (over Colorado) and BYU (over Oklahoma) won big games.
At the other end of the spectrum, the ACC floundered. Virginia and Duke lost to FCS division teams, and the league finished at 5-7.
Conference Rankings for Week 1:
1. Florida (1-0) ... Gators scrimmaged against Charleston Southern and now play Troy (Trojans lost at Bowling Green).
2. Alabama (1-0) ... although a bit ragged, the Tide looked mighty strong in handling Hokies ... next up Florida International.
3. LSU (1-0) ... a tough 2500 mile trip to Seattle and a gritty win should pay dividends down the road. Vanderbilt comes to the bayou.
4. Ole Miss (1-0) ... Rebels take a week off after taming Tigers in Memphis.
5. Arkansas (1-0) ... Petrino's Pigs get bye before Georgia Bulldogs visit.
6. Tennessee (1-0) ... UCLA will prove a much tougher foe than Western Kentucky, but Vols looked good.
7. South Carolina (1-0) ... Gamecocks fiesty on defense but must find a way to score. Trip between hedges is no picnic.
8. Auburn (1-0) ... nice debut for Gene Chizik ... he meets fellow rookie Dan Mullen of Miss State on the Plains.
9. Georgia (0-1) ... Dogs offense struggled mightily after first drive (I only see one playmaker - AJ Green) ... next up a tough South Carolina team.
10. Kentucky (1-0) ... Wildcats wiped out Miami of Ohio 42-0 and now prepare for rival Louisville on September 19.
11. Vanderbilt (1-0) ... maybe Commodores deserve to be higher, but old habits are hard to break. A visit to the bayou bengal tigers will tell us much.
12. Mississippi State (1-0) ... Bullies take a trip to Auburn after handling Jackson State.
Check back for Week 2 Professor's Picks of all SEC games and selected national games.
Thursday Night Prediction:Clemson at Georgia Tech
Atlanta (Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field)
Comment: Georgia Tech is my darkhorse national title contender, but Clemson has the athletes on defense to compete with the Tech option game. Offensively, Tigers also have plenty of speed. Still, Paul Johnson's Jackets control the ball and tame the Tigers in the ATL.
Professor's Pick: GEORGIA TECH