ITAT Predictions: SEC East, Week 1

ITAT writers Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson give their takes on who will be the winners and losers in week one of the SEC football season.

Thursday's Games

Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio), 6:30 p.m., ESPNU
Jason's Take: Does it tell you anything about Vandy's program that they're traveling to the MAC for a season opener. Not a good sign and the Commodores may be in for a fight they can't win. Miami (OH) 27, Vanderbilt 24

Mark's Take: Picking Vandy to win a road game, even if it is against a MAC team, doesn't seem like a wise thing to do, especially considering that Bobby Johnson has just 20 victories in 70 games as head coach in the Music City. Miami of Ohio 21, Vanderbilt 17

Stephen's Take: The 2008 Commodores won't be as good as any of the last three that won a total of 14 games, but they're still good enough to get a win over the Redhawks. Vanderbilt 17, Miami (Ohio) 14

North Carolina State at South Carolina, 7 p.m. ESPN
Jason's Take: It's hard to believe South Carolina was ranked in the Top 10 halfway through the 2007 before falling apart. While they're not headed back there this season, they have enough to win this one. USC 24, North Carolina State 16

Mark's Take: South Carolina has won on opening day the past eight years. Steve Spurrier's boys should keep the streak alive at home vs. ACC opposition. The Wolfpack could make this a battle because the Gamecocks struggled stopping the run last year and N.C. State returns a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. South Carolina 31, North Carolina State 24

Stephen's Take: Both head coaches would be having much more success at their former schools than with these average programs. Steve Spurrier is a few years ahead of Tom O'Brien and the Gamecocks get their first victory since Oct. 13 when they beat North Carolina. South Carolina 27, N.C. State 17

Saturday's Games

Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, is back to lead the Florida offense.

Hawaii at Florida, 11:30 a.m. Raycom Sports
Jason's Take: Not even an injured Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes are enough to give the Hawaii Warriors at chance against Tim Tebow and company. Florida 48, Hawaii 13

Mark's Take: Even wounded Gators shouldn't have much trouble against a team that lost its dynamic head coach June Jones and star quarterback Colt Brennan. This is the first-ever meeting between these two teams. Florida 48, Hawaii 14

Stephen's Take: No Harvin? No Spikes? No problem. The defending Sugar Bowl runner-ups won't have an answer for slowing down all of the Gators' offensive weapons. Florida 52, Hawaii 20

Georgia Southern at Georgia, 11:30 a.m., Pay Per View
Jason's Take: It's the battle of suspension in the Peach State as over a dozen combined players from the two schools are suspended for the season opener for offseason troubles. Georgia Southern needs that number to include Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno if they hope to have a chance. It doesn't. Georgia 41, GSU 13

Mark's Take: The visitors from Beautiful Eagle Creek should be a tasty appetizer for the nation's No. 1 ranked team in this week's AP poll. Georgia 42, Georgia Southern 14

Stephen's Take: Georgia Southern 8, Georgia 6. No, that's not a score prediction, just the number of players from each team suspended for this game. Georgia wins this one in not-so-sharp fashion. Georgia 34, Georgia Southern 20

Sunday's Game

Kentucky at Louisville, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
Jason's Take: The Wildcats are looking for a quarterback while the Cardinals are looking for some revenge from last season's disappointment. I'll take the Cardinals in a close one. Louisville 23, Kentucky 20

Mark's Take: The Wildcats broke a four-game losing streak in the series last season, but lost much of their offensive firepower to graduation. In a tossup game, homefield advantage could be the difference. Louisville 24, Kentucky 20

Stephen's Take: A year ago when Kentucky beat Louisville it was a major upset in the Bluegrass State. This year when it happens it'll be more of the same for the Cards under Steve Kragathorpe. Kentucky 31, Louisville 27

Monday's Game

Coach Phil Fulmer will lead the Big Orange into the Rose Bowl to take on the blue-clad Bruins.

Tennessee at UCLA, 7 p.m. ABC Sports
Jason's Take: While Florida and Georgia are getting the talk in the SEC East, the Vols have quietly come into the 2008 season as a team to watch. Breaking in a new QB and offensive coordinator won't be easy, but UCLA has no quarterback at all. Tennessee 24, UCLA 13

Mark's Take: Former UCLA star QB Rick Neuheisel returns to LA to rebuild a program that has been playing second fiddle to crosstown USC in recent years. Phil Fulmer's Vols look solid and should have enough firepower to pick up a road victory in this cross country road test. Tennessee 27, UCLA 17

Stephen's Take: There'll be lots of newness on this Labor Day game at the Rose Bowl as Tennessee and new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson look to spoil Rick Neuheisel's debut at his alma mater. Tennessee 29, UCLA 22

Editor's Note: Starting with week two, the winner of the weekly Inside the Auburn Tigers contest for our premium subscribers will be invited to make his or her picks in the following week's ITAT picks column. To participate in the contest, click on the link:

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