SEC Previews and Predictions: Week Two

Jess Nicholas takes a took at week two action in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia plays at South Carolina in the one of the more interesting league games of the week...

Last week's record: 10-1 (90.9%)
Season record: 10-1 (90.9%)

Matchup to watch: Alabama LBs vs. Vanderbilt QB Chris Nickson
For all the talk about the struggles of the Alabama offense against Hawaii – and those concerns are legitimate – the greater concern may be the issues the Tide linebackers and secondary had with the Warriors' offensive scheme. Those concerns will be front and center this week, as Alabama copes with dual-threat QB Chris Nickson. Nickson's passing leaves much to be desired at this point, but he's a concern when running the football; Alabama recruited him as a wide receiver briefly. Alabama will be faced with the constant decision whether to pressure Nickson and risk flushing him from the pocket and into a long gain, or playing back and trying to force a mental mistake. Right now, all signs point to the latter. Alabama also has potential injury concerns with RBs Kenneth Darby and Jimmy Johns, issues with the right side of the offensive line and depth at wide receiver. Fortunately, Vanderbilt is not likely on Hawaii's level in overall talent, although the Commodores may be stouter on defense. The Commodores have little running game, and little chance of pulling this upset. Alabama 34, Vanderbilt 10

Matchup to watch: Florida OL vs. UCF front seven
Nineteen starters, including 10 on defense alone, should be enough to get the attention of Florida in this game. The Gators didn't exactly set the world on fire the first week, although they did post a solid win over Southern Miss. Central Florida is expected to be a better team, however. With the Gators rebuilding the offensive line, looking for depth at receiver and still with an unsettled situation at running back, it's not out of the realm of possibility to see in-state rival UCF marching up to Gainesville and taking a shot at the upset. Unlikely, but not impossible. The key for UCF is how well its defensive front seven can manipulate the Florida offensive line. Trouble Florida's OL, and you trouble QB Chris Leak at the same time. This game has a lot of Florida fans nervous. Florida 27, UCF 17

Matchup to watch: Georgia DL vs. South Carolina OL
Lost in the euphoria of Steve Spurrier winning for the first time in Starkville last week and the Gamecocks pulling off a shutout to boot is the fact that the Gamecock OL was atrocious. Mississippi State's defensive line was strong and veteran, and while Georgia's doesn't have the same level of experience, the athleticism and potential are greater here in this matchup. The big issue for Georgia, however, is that its offense showed some big holes in the opener against Western Kentucky, namely in the passing department, and South Carolina figures to do a much better job of making those deficiencies count for something this week. South Carolina could pull this upset; they're at home, and Spurrier knows how to beat Georgia. What the Gamecocks must do is come together on offense and block – a simple premise, but one they didn't exactly pull off without incident last week. If the Gamecock defense is even half as good this week as it was last week, Georgia's quarterbacks will be so confused they won't know whether to scratch their watches or wind their butts. South Carolina 19, Georgia 13

Pointless matchup that will give Kentucky a chance to lick its wounds following its embarrassing blowout loss to in-state rival Louisville. Kentucky 45, Texas State 7

Matchup to watch: Air Force offensive discipline vs. UT LBs
This will be Air Force's debut in 2006. For Tennessee, it represents a major contrast in styles from its opener against California. Against Cal, Tennessee was faced with a spread-influenced high-octane passing attack. Against Air Force, the Volunteers get the triple option. There's no comparison here as to the athleticism of the two teams; Tennessee beats Air Force hands down. What makes Air Force just a shade dangerous, though, is its use of the wishbone-influenced triple option and whether the Falcons can pull it off. Tennessee's linebackers have probably never seen anything like this and there are still some questions on the Vol defense. But Air Force's defense is predicted to be putrid, and at some point it might not matter how many 3-yard gains Air Force is racking up. Tennessee 42, Air Force 21

The only real piece of entertainment here is that Mitch Mustain will make his first start under center for Arkansas. Utah State's first week was spent making Wyoming look unbeatable. Arkansas should kill the Aggies, no matter who is quarterbacking the Razorbacks. Arkansas 47, Utah State 10
Matchup to watch: MSU RB Anthony Dixon vs. Auburn DL
Mississippi State has but one chance to win this game: True freshman RB Anthony Dixon must catch fire from the opening snap and never cool off. Mississippi State didn't have a great passing attack to begin with, but when QB Michael Henig went down with a broken collarbone last week it basically relegated the Bulldogs to run-only status. The Bulldog offensive line is suspect at best, but seems to be more comfortable plowing straight ahead. New QB Tray Rutland probably has no problem with this, as it will keep him out of range of Auburn's defensive ends. Auburn shouldn't have any problems here, although the State DL is good enough to slow down the Tiger rushing attack a bit. For MSU to win this game would be nothing short of a miracle. Auburn 43, Mississippi State 3

Matchup to watch: Arizona secondary vs. LSU QB JaMarcus Russell
LSU's JaMarcus Russell had an outstanding debut, even if it was against only Louisiana-Lafayette. Arizona, meanwhile, struggled to put away BYU but finally won, 16-13. Mike Stoops has been trying to convince Arizona to believe in itself for two years now, and he might finally be on the verge of seeing it happen, so keeping this game close will be crucial. Arizona's best hope is that Russell oversleeps or decides to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Mt. Rushmore; the Wildcat pass defense was shaky in 2005 and didn't get a great start against BYU. How well the Wildcat secondary plays in this game will determine everything. LSU 31, Arizona 13

Matchup to watch: Missouri QB Chase Daniel vs. Ole Miss QB Brent Schaeffer
Ole Miss' first game provided surprisingly tame stats for QB Brent Schaeffer (7-of-16, 43.8%, 97 yards, 0 TD), while Missouri QB Chase Daniel (23-of-35, 65.7%, 320 yards, 5 TD) looked like Joe Namath in his opener. While these two players will never be on the field at the same time in this game, their matchup means the world to both teams' chances. Missouri is loads better than the Memphis team that nearly knocked off Ole Miss last week, and the Tigers are stout in run defense. That means Ole Miss will have to rely on Schaeffer's arm as well as his legs and his ability to hand off the football. Defensively, Ole Miss looked out of sorts too many times against the middling Memphis Tigers. The Missouri variety of Tigers should knock Ole Miss off with relative ease. Missouri 33, Ole Miss 20

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