It's Football Game Week In The SEC

Columnist Phillip Marshall gives his views on SEC football, including what teams are overrated and who the likely winners are in week one.

The first smattering of college football games have been played. Things seriously heat up in the coming weekend with games across the country.

Some impressions, predictions and outright guesses:

*Florida State was 8-4 last season for a reason. The Seminoles simply weren't as talented as they had been in previous seasons. They are No. 3 in the nation this season for no reason. Though it is always dangerous to put too much emphasis on the opening game, it is obvious they don't have the numbers of dominating athletes they've had in the past. Only a blown official's call in the final seconds kept Iowa State from rallying from a 31-7 deficit and taking Florida State to overtime. You wonder sometimes why officials see things that don't happen, calling Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace out of bounds on what would have been a touchdown run in this case when he clearly wasn't. Speaking of Wallace, he looks like a terrific player.

*Will Lee Corso ever learn? Corso, ESPN's college football analyst, labeled Nebraska as "not very good" when the Cornhuskers led Arizona State just 10-3 at halftime. Nebraska promptly scored 38 unanswered points in the second half. Truth is we don't have a clue about Nebraska. What is pretty obvious is that Arizona State isn't very good. What is also obvious is that Corso, who couldn't cut it as a college head coach, is much better at talking than he is at anything else. His basketball counterpart Dick Vitale at least does his homework. That's more than I can say for Corso.

*As the SEC season approaches, I still wonder what I've been wondering all summer. What is it about Georgia that justifies such lofty expectations? The Bulldogs have some outstanding offensive weapons, but their defense is suspect at best. A Top 10 team? You never know, but I'd be surprised.

*My pick for the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl? Miami and Oklahoma.

*Ron Zook will probably have a relatively successful first season as Florida's head coach. There's no better place to start than with a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. Whether Zook can sustain it at a high enough level to satisfy Gator fans spoiled by Steve Spurrier is another question. My guess is he can't.

*Reality is about to hit home to first-year Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson. He's about to find out just why the Commodores haven't had a winning season in 20 years and might not have one for another 20 years.

*Don't put too much stock in Ohio State's 45-21 rout of Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are a clone of the Kentucky Wildcats under Hal Mumme--lots of flash and dash and not much substance.

*Can anybody tell me what Arkansas State, which trailed Virginia Tech 56-0 at halftime Sunday, is doing trying to play in Division I-A?

*Before this season is over, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Arkansas could well be on their way to major NCAA problems. Look for Alabama to get little if any relief from the NCAA appeals committee.

*It would be a mistake for Auburn fans to put too much emphasis on the opener at Southern Cal. Traveling across the country to play a game is quite a challenge. A win won't necessarily mean a great season awaits and a loss won't necessarily mean disappointment awaits. Truth is, if Auburn could choose one game to lose, it would be this one--a nonconference game at the start of the season. At the same time, a victory would certainly provide some momentum.

*Most overrated SEC team? I'd say it's a dead heat between Georgia and Ole Miss. Georgia, I've already addressed. Ole Miss has a great quarterback in Eli Manning, but I don't see a lot of strength anywhere else. The Rebels could, in fact, be woeful on defense.

*Predictions for the first week's slate of SEC games:

Auburn 20, USC 17

Alabama 38, Middle Tennessee State 28

Oregon 24, Mississippi State 3

Clemson 28, Georgia 24

Louisville 38, Kentucky 9

Virginia Tech 27, LSU 21

South Carolina 35, New Mexico State 7

Georgia Tech 31, Vanderbilt 14

Ole Miss 42, Louisiana-Monroe 14


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