The SEC East had a much better showing with a 5-1 mark. Vanderbilt looked horrible and I stand by last week's statement that they had nothing to gain by playing the game. Florida looked like....well, Florida. UT played everybody and had a huge game offensively despite not having the services of Kelley Washington. UGA hung on late and put away a stubborn pack of Clemson Tigers. The scheduling worked out for UGA and that win should pay dividends later on. South Carolina won without their best player Ryan Brewer. USC had a much tougher time than they should have had. It appears that the Cocks may be a little thinner than first thought. We'll know for sure after this week. Both sets of Dogs are off this week, so we'll have to find somebody else to root for like Memphis.
Mississippi vs. Memphis
This just got more interesting after Memphis beat Murray State 52-6. TB DeAngelo Williams averaged a gaudy 10.75 yards per carry in week one. Considering how porous the Rebel run defense was a year ago this could be big. Former QB Travis Anglin has relocated to WR and scored two TDs a week ago. New QB Danny Williams completed 71.9% of his passes and threw 5 TD passes. The spread offense is working. This is the 2nd year in the Tommy West system. Memphis has always been strong on defense. They've also lacked the offensive firepower to knock off the big boys. This year could be different. The last meeting between these two saw the Tigers drop a 3-0 contest way back in 1999. This game should be just as competitive. Eli and company should have a better game this week from an offensive standpoint, but they will be tested defensively. The Rebels don't have 5 quality DBs, so the spread should give them some trouble. If Memphis can hang around through three quarters, they will pull the upset. As much as I'd like to see the Rebels drop a non-conference game, it probably won't happen this week. I'll be interested to see what kind of confidence the Tigers come out with. This is a huge game for this program and they'll hit the Rebels with everything they have and sadly they'll come up just short.
Mississippi 31 Memphis 27
Tennessee vs. Middle Tennessee State
This game used to be a laugher. MTSU came back hard against the Tide last week despite Dwone Hicks not having a great game. Rashard Lee shared the load and between the two they scared the Crimson Tide to death. UT probably won't have Kelley Washington back and Leonard Scott is still slowed by the injury bug himself. The absences of the top two targets gives the young guys a chance to develop and for the stable of tailbacks to get some work. MTSU plays the SEC tough and this one means more because most of the players are home grown. They got snubbed by UT, so the emotions will be high. It doesn't take a lot to get up for UT, but once MTSU bursts out of the dressing room and gets to maybe the 35 yard line, reality will set in and UT will put them away early and keep them away. I like MTSU, but this isn't their dance; they should stick to Vandy. Vandy probably won't schedule them anymore. MTSU is fast becoming the USM of Tennessee. They just can't beat the big boys yet.
Tennessee 35 MTSU 17
South Carolina vs. Virginia
Virginia needs a win. After a last second miscue cost them against a good Colorado State team, the Cavs got routed by Florida State. Their season weighs in the balance this weekend. South Carolina still has Ryan Brewer nursing a sore ankle. The offense had some hiccups last week, but expect a new wrinkle or two this week. The fact that USC goes on the road doesn't help things. UVA has some talent. QB Matt Schaub is one of the best in the ACC. He should keep the Cavs in this one and if they can get a stop or two they'll pull this one out. The Cavaliers are weak against the pass, but pretty decent against the run. That's what they'll get a lot of from the Gamecocks. I'm sure Lou Holtz has a trick or two up his sleeve, but Virginia has the home field advantage and they need this one a lot more. Look for the Cavs to pull away late.
Virginia 23 USC 14
Vanderbilt vs. Furman
This is an interesting match-up as Coach Johnson goes up against his old squad Furman. The Dores will see all that Furman has to offer as I'm sure in most respects this will be the most important game they play all season. Furman has had all summer to prepare for this one. After the thrashing Vanderbilt took last week, they need this one to have any hope of a winning campaign......aw, who am I kidding, they'll win the game, but a winning season just isn't in the offing for Vandy.
Vanderbilt 24 Furman 13
Kentucky vs. UTEP
Kentucky looks to open the season 2-0 with UTEP coming to Lexington this weekend. UTEP likes a balanced attack, but TB Howard Johnson is the work horse for this team. They go as he goes. He had a strong game that saw UTEP put up 42 points in week one. UK is used to giving up those kind of numbers. It won't happen this week however. The Cat defense looks formidable for a change. They dumped the arch rival Cardinals all over the field last week. Look for the Cats to come out of the dressing room throwing. Artose Pinner saw tons of carries a week ago and he'll get his reps this week as well. The Cats need this one in a bad way. The team will start to believe and confidence goes a long way when dealing with a young team like this.
Kentucky 28 UTEP 10
Auburn vs. Western Carolina
The Tiger defense looked very impressive out west last week. Other than giving up a late drive, the Auburn youngsters were the talk of the west. Auburn still has trouble scoring points. Carnell Williams was slowed by cramps and USC's half time adjustments. The Tigers are toothless without a big game from Williams. This week that won't be a problem. The Catamounts come to town as sacrificial lambs. The WC folks won 23-3 last week in a game that saw very little in the way of offense, in fact QB Brian Gaither threw for a whopping 88 yards. Look for Auburn to try to get their offense on track. This game is not much more than a scrimmage that counts in your win/loss record. Hopefully, the War Eagles can have a consistent game from Daniel Cobb. That will keep the Jason Campbell situation from becoming a distraction. Campbell is the better QB, but the Tiger staff feels that Cobb gives them the best chance to win this year. Both will play this week as Auburn puts up some nice numbers.
Auburn 42 W. Carolina 7
Arkansas vs. Boise State
Arkansas tees it up for the 1st time this week. The Hogs are ready to go and need a strong start offensively. Boise State beat Idaho in the potato bowl last week 38-21. Arkansas has some questions on defense and the fact that Boise State has already played a game is a distinct advantage. QB Ryan Dinwiddie is efficient and doesn't turn the ball over much except when he tries to do too much. The target of choice is Brock Forsey. They will find away to get the ball in his hands. He is the best playmaker they have. Arkansas always stumbles out of the gate, but they usually win ugly. This should be one of those games. Don't be surprised if Boise is in it at the half. The difference in the weight programs will become evident in the 2nd half.
Arkansas 24 Boise State 14
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
To say this is an ambitious game for Alabama would be putting it politely. I am sure the Tide got caught looking ahead a little last week and with good reason. OU TB Quentin Griffin ran for 237 yards last week. Alabama promises to be tough against the run and Arkansas held OU in check last season in the Cotton Bowl. Now Alabama ain't Tulsa, but the OU defense is one of the nation's best. Bama needs a huge game from Beard and Tyler Watts must make plays. Antonio Carter has been slowed be a leg injury for weeks, if he can walk he'll play this week. OU êx doesn't lose at home under Bob Stoops. The Sooners know they have the nation's attention and a thrashing of one of the favorites in the SEC would do nicely. Coach Fran is 0-1 against the Sooners, that will change for the worse this weekend. If Alabama escapes healthy that will be victory enough.
Oklahoma 31 Alabama 14
Game of the Week
Florida vs. Miami
Coach Coker knows how to get the 'Canes ready to play big games. Miami lost a ton last year to the NFL mainly in the secondary. There is some young talent there. The defensive line is strong and should get some positive rush on Grossman. The 'Cane offense only returns 4 starters and that includes Ken Dorsey who is one of the nation's best QB's. Jarrett Payton will play at TB this week for Miami. They'll need all hands on deck. Larry Coker is 13-0 and has yet to taste defeat as a head coach. Florida is downright mad. They have fallen in most people's eyes with the defection of Steve Spurrier to the NFL, not to mention their QB got ripped off in the Heisman balloting. To say that the Gators have something to prove is putting it mildly. The Swamp is a tough place to play and they'll be rocking this Saturday. This game should be an all out war, but I'm picking Florida in a minor upset. I just can't see Miami keeping this up and going into the Swamp is tough especially with only 10 starters back from a year ago. I know they have the guns, but Florida has more to play for.....respect.
Florida 27 Miami 21
LSU vs. The Citadel
Former Auburn QB Jeff Klein leads Div 1-AA The Citadel to Death Valley this weekend. The only advantage the Bulldogs have is that at least Klein has been to Baton Rouge. The Citadel is just what the doctor ordered for the sick Tigers. The purple and gold will look to play everybody on the roster this week. Matt Mauck needs a good game after last week. The "deep" WR corps had several key drops. Marcus Randall will see action behind center for the Tigers this week as well. He is still rehabbing his knee and this will be the 1st true action since surgery. Labrandon Toefield does not look healthy. He was very tentative hitting the hole last week and showed no confidence in his ability to cut back. The knee appears to be a problem. The Citadel should have problems scoring points and they won't test the secondary of the Tigers much. The first true test for the LSU DBs comes on September 28th. This group has been suspect for quite a while and this year is no exception. Va Tech was 7-14 passing in a offensive fruit basket turnover on Labor Day. LSU should bounce back this week strong. I'll be there to see it. I just hope I don't get mistaken for an LSU fan and get shot with rubber bullets.
LSU 49 Citadel 3
Well that's week two. Our Dogs are off preparing for J'Ville State. We need a big win as do a lot of schools, but we need to go into the Thursday night game against Auburn with some confidence. I like our chances in both games, but this is Fant's team. That's not a slam on Kyle York; he just hasn't had the reps that Kevin has. Fant should have a great game in week two. We just need to come out and get our timing down and work out any kinks in the offense. Our D should dominate. They need a nice performance to keep the opponent's honest.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson is a free-lance correspondent who writes The Robertson Report for the premium site portion of Gene's Page. Steve's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.