Alabama vs. North Texas
The mean green gave the Texas Longhorns all they wanted in week one. The offense returns pretty much intact from a year ago. UNT was 5-1 in conference a year ago, but lost 5 non-conference games, plus a bowl game to finish 5-7. If you can do the math, you can see that a losing team went to a bowl game a year ago. Further evidence we have too many bowls. QB Scott Hall has an NFL-caliber arm, but lacks mobility. Look for the Tide to come after him early and often. Alabama has had huge problems stopping teams in the 2nd half. That shouldn't be an issue this week, but if it becomes a trend, look for the media to be out in earnest in about 2 more weeks. The Greenies will get the Tide's attention, but will give in to the pressure of playing in an SEC atmosphere.
Alabama 35 North Texas 17
Arkansas vs. South Florida
If you don't think South Florida has the Razorback's attention think again. USF finished 8-3 a year ago and they return QB Marquel Blackwell. Blackwell, in some opinions as well as the record books, is the best QB to ever play there. The line needs some work as does the secondary, but the Bulls may scare the Hogs to death. While this is not a marquee type non-conference match-up, it is an interesting one. Arkansas will need to establish the run and exploit the Bull secondary. The Hogs have a history of close games early in the season, and if they let USF hang around they are good enough to pull the upset. Playing in Arkansas can be difficult; just ask any MSU Bulldog. This one will be played in Little Rock, which isn't much help for the Bulls. If USF is in the game in the 4th quarter, they'll pull the upset, but I can't see the Hog running game allowing that to happen. If Jones is anywhere close this game won't be much to worry about. It won't be high scoring, but it should be interesting for a half or so.
Arkansas 24 South Florida 14
Auburn vs. Vanderbilt
Coach Bobby Johnson notched win number one last weekend in Nashville. The 'Dores knocked off Johnson's old team Furman in convincing fashion. Don't expect that this week, because Auburn is playing with a lot of confidence thanks in large part to their physical defense. Auburn played USC down to the final minutes and put up some big points last week to build some confidence for an offense looking to find itself. This one will be closer than last week, but will still end with the same result; an Auburn win. This one will be SEC win numero uno for the Tigers and this could prove valuable as SEC wins may be at a premium in the rugged West. Carnell Williams should be enough, but the Tigers need to improve in the passing department as well before next Thursday's trip to StarkVegas. The Tigers won't be looking ahead, but even if they were a bit Vandy doesn't have the firepower to make them pay for it.
Auburn 31 Vanderbilt 14
Florida vs. Ohio
To say the folks in Gainesville are upset over last week's blowout loss in the Swamp would be an understatement. Just a day or two before the loss the orange and blue media were lauding the impressive win in week one over UAB. Florida was down right whipped in the second half by Miami. The Grossman pick returned for a TD put the game away for good. Florida gets a chance to circle the wagons this week over the U of O. Next week, the Gators travel to Knoxville in what appears to be a loss at this point, but who knows. The Ohio Bobcats were at or near the bottom in every statistical category of the MAC conference a season ago. This season appears to be more of the same unless senior QB Dontrell Johnson can put this team on his back and make some things happen. This week isn't the week for that. If Florida can get 100, they will. They'll look to pound Ohio into submission, but they'll also look to play a lot of people to avoid getting nicked up before what has essentially been the SEC East title game. UF would like to stretch their legs in this one, but don't be surprised if Zook calls off the Dogs early in the 2nd half.
Florida 42 Ohio 3
Georgia vs. South Carolina
Pre-season this appeared to be a close match-up, but now appears to be a mismatch. UGA had to pull out a late score to put away Clemson and has had a week off to get ready for this one. USC looked rough in week one and dropped one to Virginia last week. USC has a lot of work to do and their offense has become very one-dimensional. Holtz is a master motivator, so his team will play hard. The Dawgs dropped one late in the 4th last year at home to the Gamecocks. I am sure those final few minutes have been watched over and over this past week. UGA needs a huge win in this one to get ready for what should be a race to Atlanta. USC may have overlooked the 0-2 Cavaliers a week ago, but they must win this one or prepare for a return to mediocrity. USC has a lot of issues, but they always have found a way to play their best game when you least expect it. Look for the Gamecocks secondary to be challenged early and often. USC will try to grind it out and keep the talented UGA QBs on the sidelines.
Georgia 24 USC 13
Kentucky vs. Indiana
Strike up the band folks, UK is pretty good. UK put up 77 big ones last week and showed a very balanced attack as well as another nice showing by the defense. UK may surprise a lot of people, but former LSU and current Indiana head coach Gerry Dinardo won't be one of them. Gerry had some knockdown drag outs against Tim Couch and the Mumme Air Raid during his time in the SEC. Those days are long gone as is Dinardo from Tiger Town. The Hoosiers don't have the DBs to match up with UK, but they'll look to run it and keep the score down and time of possession up. Kentucky has already matched last season's win total and looks to be much improved. Granted it's still non-conference, but they've defeated their arch-rivals and took care of UTEP like an SEC team should. Indiana has a 4-year letterman at QB, but when you have Antwaan Randle El the backups don't get a lot of reps. Randle El is gone, but last season he saw time at WR and Tommy Jones saw some snaps. Jones lacks mobility and has the tendency to throw the ball into coverage. Look for UK to get out in front early and generate some more confidence before conference play begins.
Kentucky 33 Indiana 17
LSU vs Miami of Ohio
By a show of hands who circled this game on the schedule? I am sure LSU didn't either. After two straight weeks of lackluster performances, the Tigers need a big win and how. LSU looks like a team prime for an upset and they just may get it this week. The Red Hawks boast one of the nation's best at QB in Ben Roethlisberger. We'll just call him Ben. Ben is the real deal and has a bevy of WRs fighting over playing time. They had two scores called back a week ago and that cost them a win over Iowa. In week one they beat North Carolina at North Carolina. These boys throw the football and they are very, very good at it. LSU has been very bad against the pass in the last several years. This year is no exception. Miami will trot 4 and 5 receiver sets out there, and quite frankly LSU doesn't have three good DBs. Ben can have his way with those odds. LSU will depend heavily on their running game to score and control the clock. The offensive line for LSU most gel now or the Tigers will be 1-2 come Sunday. If LSU can't run over the Red Hawks, they'll lose in rather convincing fashion. I think the Tiger's have too much talent to drop this one, but it'll be a barnburner.
LSU 28 Miami of Ohio 24
Mississippi vs Texas Tech
The Oxford linked media were quick to point out the 3 TDs thrown by former Heisman candidate, Eli Manning last week. I saw a slightly different version of events. I saw another lackluster effort that saw the special teams come on late. The youngest Manning completed 50% of his passes for just under 200 yards. Heisman numbers they ain't, but they won. If the Rebels expect to continue the streak they must get better play out of their QB this week. Mississippi travels to Texas Tech to face one of the top 10 QBs in the country, Kliff Klingsbury. Tech hasn't hit their stride just yet, but this weekend should go a long way towards that. Klingsbury throws the ball down the field a lot. The Rebel secondary better bring their A game. Big Kliff threw for over 3,500 yards last year, but didn't get much help on defense as the Red Raiders finished 7-5. This one should be similar to a WAC game as these two offenses go at each other with little resistance on defense. Manning appears to be much more native than the QB that competed over 60% of his passes a year ago. This one is a tough one to pick and U of M doesn't do terribly well on the road. It will take the Rebels best game to date to win this one. I just don't see it this week.
Texas Tech 38 Mississippi 28
Mississippi State vs. Jacksonville State
Jacksonville State was good enough to play in the conference title game a season ago. They aren't expected to repeat. They are Division 1-AA. Folks, I am sorry there is no way to make this a good match-up. This needs to be a game where the Dawgs get fat and everybody but the waterboy gets in the game. Fant is back and his mind seems to be on football and not the soap opera that has become college football in the state of Mississippi. Look for Fant to get the offense on track and work out the kinks. The defense should have ample opportunity to play everybody who dresses out to gain some experience as well as save some of the regulars for the Auburn game. After the Troy State debacle of last year, this team won't be overlooking anybody soon. When you only win just 3 games in a season all games take on a bigger sense of importance. Look for the passing game to be strong out of the gate and the Bulldog tailbacks to run wild in the second half. If we don't win this one going away I'll be surprised. This team is not in the same league with MSU and I expect the scoreboard to show that at game's end. Our kids deserve a lopsided win to get their confidence up. The J State Gamecocks were 6-5 last year and weren't even picked anywhere near the top 25 preseason this year in Div 1-AA. Fant will probably play most of the way to get his timing down. I just hope he can get a lot of practice watching John Michael Marlin kick extra points.
MSU 49 Jacksonville State 10
Well, that does it for this week and here's hoping for a perfect week. If we can't be perfect I'll take an MSU win and a Mississippi loss. Hopefully we'll be able to know who the teams to beat in the West will be in the next two weeks. If not, we'll definitely know by the end of the month. MSU has some tough, but winnable games in the next few weeks. If we can win in September, we should still be playing come December.
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 email@example.com.