SEC Predictions: Week 1

InsideTennessee's staff gives its predictions on the slate of SEC games that highlight Week 1's schedule.

It's that time of year again. InsideTennessee's staff lays out its predictions for an intriguing SEC schedule to open the college football season. The predictions:

Cory Gunkel's Picks:

Bowling Green vs. Tennessee

This will be a nice litmus test for both Tennessee's defense and offensive line as the reigning MAC East champs invade Nasvhille. Bowling Green loves its tempo but is susceptible to huge plays by being overaggressive on defense and was 0-5 against Top 70 teams last season. The Vols are as talented as they've ever been under Butch Jones and will use this as a solid chance to answer some questions and get guys playing time in a double-digit win. Tennessee 41, Bowling Green 20

North Carolina vs. South Carolina:

Larry Fedora brought in former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik to shore up his UNC squad's reeling defense, but in this game it might be the first team to hit 50 points that wins. The Tar Heels quarterback, Marquise Williams, is hoping for a breakout season under Fedora's pass-happy scheme, and while South Carolina returns eight starters on defense, I don't think they'll be able to keep up. North Carolina 34, South Carolina 28

Western Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt:

WKU returns quarterback Brandon Doughty and one of the most potent offenses in the NCAA. Doughty will be able to throw the ball against the Commodores, but Vandy's defensive front, led by Caleb Azubike, should cause some problems. The Hillltoppers are an early favorite to win C-USA and could win this game going away. Western Kentucky 38, Vanderbilt 24.

Louisiana-Monroe vs. Georgia:

A nice tune-up contest for UGA before it hits SEC play on the road against Vanderbilt. This one will get ugly quick. Georgia 51, Louisiana-Monroe 20

UT-Martin vs. Ole Miss:

Another dress rehearsal, this time for SEC West darkhorse Ole Miss. It's too bad Dylan Favre doesn't play for the Skyhawks anymore. Ole Miss 45, UT-Martin 10

UTEP vs. Arkansas:

UTEP made a bowl game for the first time in five years last season and returns 11 starters, but this middle-of-the-pack C-USA team will be no match for Arkansas' bruising run game. Arkansas 31, UTEP 14

Louisville vs. Auburn

One of most intriguing SEC matchup of the weekend, Auburn comes into the Georgia Dome with newly-minted potential star Jeremy Johnson and one of the best offenses in the league coupled with the addition of Will Muschamp's debut as defensive coordinator. The Cardinals, on the other hand, are an ACC title contender with a high-powered offense ran by running back Brandon Radcliff. These two offenses will provide plenty of Labor Day weekend fireworks. Auburn 38, Louisville 35

Southeast Missouri State vs. Missouri:

Mizzou opens the year with a nice cupcake to much on before hitting the meat of its schedule. It's safe to say you can skip this one. Missouri 48, Southeast Missouri State 13

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M:

This one is really, really interesting. Wide receiver D.J. Foster highlights an explosive ASU offense on a team that returns 16 starters expected to vie for the Pac-12 championship in a crowded field. Texas A&M also boasts one of the best offensive minds in the country in Kevin Sumlin with Kyle Allen under center and an All-SEC defensive lineman wreaking havoc in the backfield in Myles Garrett. At the end of the day, the Sun Devils pull this one out in style. Arizona State 45, Texas A&M 41

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Kentucky:

Patrik Towles gets his first chance of the season to show why Kentucky is a bowl contender in 2015 against perhaps the most consistent Sun Belt teams in the country. Kentucky 31, Louisiana-Lafayette, 17

Wisconsin vs. Alabama

Whoever Alabama's quarterback will be has its hands full against a stout Wisconsin defense, but 'Bama's D might be one of the best in the country and the offense will chug along with a talented corps of running backs led by Derrick Henry. Gone is Badger great Melvin Gordon, but in his place is Corey Clement Jr. to headline an offense that seems to just prints extremely good running backs. Alabama 24, Wisconsin 17

New Mexico State vs. Florida

With all the question marks surrounding Florida's offense, specifically at offensive line and quarterback, this game will be a nice way to work out the kinks before SEC play begins. Florida 31, New Mexico State 7

McNeese State vs. LSU:

Death Valley will be dead by the third quarter as LSU rolls to a dominant victory. LSU 49, McNeese State 10

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

Todd Monken has overhauled his roster with JUCO and FBS transfers, and this is a much different team than the one that was spanked 49-0 last season by the Bulldogs. Mississippi State returns the fewest starters in the SEC, but Dak Prescott is still Dak Prescott and MSU has plenty of talent to make up for it, including potential breakout running back Ashton Shumpert. This game is in Hattiesburg and will be closer than people think. Mississippi State 41, Southern Miss 24

Danny Parker's Picks:

Bowling Green vs. Tennessee

Jalen Hurd earns a helmet sticker by surpassing the century mark in two and a half quarters of play. Aaron Medley sets a personal high for longest field goal. Tennessee, 36-10.

North Carolina vs. South Carolina:

Pharoh Cooper starts building his highlight film that will spark his being a high-round NFL Draft pick in spite of not testing on an elite level. South Carolina, 30-24.

Western Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt:

The Commodores don't need anyone's permission to lose their home opener. No pieces of paper stuck in any book are going to help that offense. Western Kentucky, 17-9.

Louisiana-Monroe vs. Georgia:

Nick Chubb gets less than 15 carries because mothers of Monroe defenders started complaining. Georgia, 54-0.

UT-Martin vs. Ole Miss:

Somebody keep an eye on Chad Kelly after the game. That's the greatest concern in Oxford this weekend. Ole Miss, 62-0.

UTEP vs. Arkansas:

A balanced Razorbacks attack makes this one look easy but some question marks about the defense arise. Arkansas, 38-21.

Louisville vs. Auburn

Is Jeremy Johnson really the next Cam Newton? I'll answer that for you: No. But Gus Malzahn knows what he's doing with offenses. Auburn, 41-17.

Southeast Missouri State vs. Missouri:

Gary Pinkel takes it easy on his SEMO neighbors. Missouri, 34-9.

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M:

Points. Lots and lots of points. One of the better matchup of the season and a game that could be talked about quite a bit come College Football Playoff voting. Kyle Allen just too much in the end. Texas A&M, 54-40.

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Kentucky:

The Wildcats show off their new turf and flex their muscles with an offense that will take some teams by surprise this year. Kentucky, 47-17.

Wisconsin vs. Alabama

Sounds like it won't bet the crowd we're accustomed to seeing for a game like this one but not everyone enjoys smashmouth football anymore. Alabama, 22-7.

New Mexico State vs. Florida

Will Grier comes off the bench to light it up and the Gators have a legit quarterback controversy on their hands. Florida, 56-7.

McNeese State vs. LSU:

Run, Leonard, Run! Leonard Fournette reaches pay dirt three times in the first quarter and who starts at quarterback becomes irrelevant...this week. LSU, 52-0.

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

The Dak Attack is back. If the Heisman Trophy could be rewarded after Week 1, the Bulldogs quarterback will have done enough to win it after this performance. Mississippi State, 47-20.

Josh Woodward's Predictions

Bowling Green vs. Tennessee

I haven't seen the Tennessee fanbase this excited in a long time. This really shouldn't be much of a game. I just want to see all the youngsters that Butch has signed and see what they can do. The offensive line will need to open some good lanes, and I expect them to pound the ball to not show many teams anything. 45-7 Vols

North Carolina vs. South Carolina:

Good opener for both teams. I think South Carolina can pull out a win, but both teams aren't very good. 20-17 South Carolina

Western Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt:

Well, how far the mighty have fallen. I don't see Vandy winning more than two games this season and this isn't one of them. 24-10 Western Kentucky

Louisiana-Monroe vs. Georgia:

Nick Chubb left, Nick Chubb right. That is all Georgia needs to do. 54-10 Bulldogs

UT-Martin vs. Ole Miss:

Lots of offseason problems for the Rebels. They need to get back on the field and put that all behind them. Hugh Freeze will likely run up the score. 55-9 Rebels.

UTEP vs. Arkansas:

Shouldn't be much of a contest. Arkansas will run it down the throat of UTEP. 55-7 Razorbacks

Louisville vs. Auburn

I might be able to watch the game from my house in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with that new Jumbotron that Auburn has. I see this being a good close game because of the Louisville offense keeping them in the game. Will be close going into the fourth quarter. 35-28 Tigers

Southeast Missouri State vs. Missouri:

Missouri will roll and roll big. 63-17 Tigers

Arizona State vs. Texas A&M:

I don't get much time to watch the Pac-12, but I did watch Arizona State last season and they have a heck of an offense. I think they will hang a bunch on A&M. Not sure if John Chavis has the talent he needs to stop them. 48-42 Arizona State

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Kentucky:

We haven't heard much on Kentucky this preseason. It will likely be a bottom dwellar this season, but should pick up a win against Louisiana-Lafayette. 33-14 Wildcats

New Mexico State vs. Florida

Not sure what to expect from Florida. This could be a close game if the offense sputters like last season. I think they will pull it out though. 35-10 Gators

McNeese State vs. LSU:

LSU should roll in this one and it could be the most points scored all weekend. 63-10 Tigers

Mississippi State vs. Southern Miss

The Bulldogs look to build on their fast start last season. The problem is they lost a lot from that team. Still shouldn't be much of a game. 48-10 Miss. State.

Alabama vs. Wisconsin

Alabama gets back to its winning ways in 2015 with a big win over a solid Big Ten team. Alabama 38-24


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