ITAT Predictions: SEC West, Week 1

ITAT writers Mark Murphy, Jason Caldwell and Stephen Atkinson take a look at the SEC West games for the weekend.

Editor's Note: Starting with week two, the winner of the weekly Inside the Auburn Tigers SEC prediction 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:

Your SEC Picks

All Games Saturday

Appalachian State at LSU, 4 p.m., ESPN
Jason's Take: Last year the Mountaineers pulled off a shocking win at Michigan to open the season. This year they won't be so fortunate taking on the Tigers in Death Valley. LSU 30, Appy State 16

Mark's Take: ASU will bring a terrific QB to Tiger Stadium in Armanti Edwards, who rushed for 1,588 yards and passed for 1,948 last year. He should test the defending national champions, but the Bayou Bengals are too strong on the line of scrimmage for a I-AA team to handle. LSU 31, Appalachian State 10

Stephen's Take: The element of surprise is gone thanks to Les Miles' alma mater, so the Tigers won't be taking this one lightly. All of the talk is of both teams' quarterbacks, LSU's undecided trio and elusive Armanti Edwards of ASU, but the Tigers' defense should once again be one of the best in America. Defending Football Bowl Subdivision Champions 37, Defending NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Champions 16

LSU's Les Miles lost two games last year, but won the national championship.

Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech, 5:45 p.m., ESPN2
Jason's Take: It's the battle of the Bulldogs in Ruston as Mississippi State's ground control offense tries to begin another season of grinding out the wins. Game one is a success. MSU 23, La. Tech 10

Mark's Take: Derek Dooley, the son of former Auburn QB and Georgia head coach Vince Dooley, would love to spring the upset in a nationally-televised contest on ESPN2 to put his name on the scene as an up-and-coming coach. This sure isn't a gimme, especially with the game being played in Ruston, but look for Sly Croom's Bulldogs to open with a win. Mississippi State 21, Louisiana Tech 14

Stephen's Take: Coming off its first winning season and bowl game in years, Mississippi State couldn't have a less appealing season opener than to start the season in Ruston. Mississippi State 38 Louisiana Tech 13

Memphis at Ole Miss, 6 p.m.
Jason's Take: The Houston Nutt Era gets under way with a bang as Jevan Snead takes the reigns of a better than advertised Ole Miss offense. They'll need it with a depleted defensive front missing three starters. Ole Miss 31, Memphis 30

Mark's Take: Many Rebel fans celebrated the end of the Ed Orgeron Era and they should be smiling again Saturday night as Houston Nutt makes his debut as Ole Miss coach before the home folks. Ole Miss usually wins its games with the Tigers, but many of these matchups are close and an upset is possible. Ole Miss 31, Memphis 24

Stephen's Take: Everyone is eager to see the changes made by Houston Nutt and to see if Jevan Snead will be the first decent quarterback at Ole Miss since Eli Manning. An easy win for the Rebels could be a sign of positive change in Oxford, but a loss may prove early that they're still a year or two away. Ole Miss 21, Memphis 7

Western Illinois at Arkansas, 6 p.m.
Jason's Take: The Bobby Petrino Era opens in Arkansas and it shouldn't be much of a problem for the Hogs despite the loss of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones from last season. Arkansas 27, Western Illinois 10

Mark's Take: The Leathernecks gave LSU a test for about a half on a previous visit to SEC country, but Bobby Petrino's debut in Fayetteville should be a successful one. Arkansas 28, Western Illinois 14

Stephen's Take: The Leathernecks won't be a match for the Razorbacks and Bobby Petrino's debut as a pig will be a bore. Arkansas 28, Western Illinois 14

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn, 6 p.m., Pay Per View
Jason's Take: Coach Tommy Tuberville completely overhauled his offense bringing in spread guru Tony Franklin. Will it mean a huge difference in 2008? It will in game one. Auburn 38, La. Monroe 17

Mark's Take: With two new coordinators in the house at Jordan-Hare Stadium, how their units perform will be closely watched as the Bama-Beaters from the Sun Belt Conference make an encore performance at an SEC venue in the state of Alabama. Auburn 38, Louisiana-Monroe 14

Stephen's Take: Just because the Warhawks beat Alabama doesn't mean they're a serious threat. They just followed the lead of programs like Louisiana Tech, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Hawaii and Northern Illinois. Auburn hasn't lost to a non-BCS conference opponent in over 16 years. Auburn 41, Louisiana-Monroe 13

C.J. Spiller gives Clemson a big-play threat on offense.

Alabama vs. Clemson (Georgia Dome), 7 p.m. ABC Sports
Jason's Take: Have two teams ever gotten as much talk for having accomplished nothing in recent memory. Clemson hasn't won a championship of any kind since 1991. Alabama has won seven or fewer games in eight of the last 11 seasons. Something has to give. Clemson 20, Alabama 17

Mark's Take: Although the game is indoors at the Georgia Dome, the Tide's defense will have to deal with "Thunder & Lightning," the dynamic running back duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Look for the CU Tigers to rain on Bama's parade. Clemson 28, Alabama 17

Stephen's Take: The Crimson Tide defense may be green and the Clemson offense may be talented, but it's still an SEC defense against a rinky-dink offense. That will keep Alabama in the game until late. However, teams nicknamed the Tigers have won 11 straight over Alabama and Clemson's defense is good enough to continue the tradition. Got 12? Clemson 24, Alabama 17

2008 Inside the Auburn Tigers Football Guide

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