SEC picks

After an offseason that seemed to drag on forever, Southeastern Conference football is back.

The SEC's opening weekend of 2009 started Thursday night with South Carolina visiting North Carolina State and concludes Sunday with Ole Miss visiting Memphis. The other 10 teams see action on Saturday - all against non-conference foes.

InsideTennessee.com analysts Randy Moore and James Bryant will be sharing their insights into the games this fall, along with guest picker Dave Hooker of The Knoxville News-Sentinel and GoVolsXtra.com. Their projections for Week 1 are as follows:

Randy's picks

SOUTH CAROLINA AT N.C. STATE (THURSDAY): The Gamecocks won 34-0 last year, so they should prevail again if Stephen Garcia can stay out of trouble for all four quarters. South Carolina 31, N.C. State 14

ALABAMA VS. VIRGINIA TECH (ATLANTA): Nick Saban's Tide crushed Clemson in the Georgia Dome to open '08 but this Dome visit should be a lot tougher. Bama 24, Virginia Tech 17

MISSOURI STATE AT ARKANSAS (LITTLE ROCK): There's nothing like a sacrificial lamb from the Football Championship Subdivision to ensure a successful opener. Arkansas 45, Missouri State 7

LOUISIANA TECH AT AUBURN: The Tigers' offense has to be better than last season, especially with Gus Malzahn calling the shots. Auburn 34, Louisiana Tech 10

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN AT FLORIDA: The Gators tried to line up a junior high team for their opener but had to settle for this bunch. Let the chomping begin. Florida 56, Charleston Southern 0

GEORGIA AT OKLAHOMA STATE: Bulldog defensive coordinator Willie Martinez took a lot of heat late last year. The grumbling will start early this year. Oklahoma State 38, Georgia 31

KENTUCKY VS. MIAMI OF OHIO (CINCINNATI): The Big Blue's quest for a fourth consecutive bowl bid should start smoothly enough. Kentucky 31, Miami of Ohio 14

LSU AT WASHINGTON: I'm guessing Lane Kiffin's 2009 debut goes a lot better than former USC cohort Steve Sarkisian's goes. LSU 41, Washington 17

JACKSON STATE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Dan Mullen got used to easy openers while assisting at Florida, so he should feel right at home in this game. Mississippi State 35, Jackson State 7

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE: Vol players and fans are eager to erase the bad taste left by last fall's 5-7 disaster. This is a nice place to start. Tennessee 38, Western Kentucky 14

WESTERN CAROLINA AT VANDERBILT: The Commodores are coming off a bowl win for the first time since 1983. None of their players were even born then. Vandy 27, Western Carolina 10

OLE MISS AT MEMPHIS (SUNDAY): The Rebels may not be as good as advertised but they're still better than this group of Tigers. Ole Miss 34, Memphis 17

James' picks

SOUTH CAROLINA AT N.C. STATE (THURSDAY): I feel that this game will be closer than expected. NC State prevails 21-17.

ALABAMA VS. VIRGINIA TECH (ATLANTA): Virginia Tech defense will be too much for Greg McElroy to handle. It will be a close game because of two good defenses 17-14 VT

MISSOURI STATE AT ARKANSAS (LITTLE ROCK): Arkansas will go airborne with Ryan Mallett. So much for a running game in Arkansas. Hogs 52-14

LOUISIANA TECH AT AUBURN: This should be a great one, Tech is a pretty good team, returning a lot of players. Coach Derrick Dooley has done a good job in Ruston. A new coaching staff makes its debut in Auburn. Auburn 38-35 over Tech.

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN AT FLORIDA: Wake me up when this one is over. 80-3

GEORGIA AT OKLAHOMA STATE: OSU needs to open up the season with a bang, Georgia just happens to be the ammunition. OSU 38-27.

KENTUCKY VS. MIAMI OF OHIO (CINCINNATI): Kentucky should win this one, 31-21.

LSU AT WASHINGTON: How I would love to see an upset here. Doubt it will happen, LSU should be a heck of a lot better than Washington. 38-17 LSU.

JACKSON STATE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Wow what a game. MSU over Jackson State 45-14.

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE: Lane Kiffin will lead his team to a 48-3 win.

WESTERN CAROLINA AT VANDERBILT: Another snoozer. 35-25, hey it's Vanderbilt and they win, but the Dores don't do blow outs.

OLE MISS AT MEMPHIS (SUNDAY): How good is Ole Miss? Really good against Memphis, 52-10

Dave's picks

SOUTH CAROLINA AT N.C. STATE (THURSDAY): This is the season in which it's finally proven: Steve Spurrier is washed up. N.C. State

ALABAMA VS. VIRGINIA TECH (ATLANTA): A new quarterback versus Tech's defense? I'll take the Hokies in a game that 'Bama would win later in the season.

MISSOURI STATE AT ARKANSAS (LITTLE ROCK): Expect Ryan Mallet to drop the hammer. Yes, I know that was lame. Arkansas

LOUISIANA TECH AT AUBURN: The Tigers will be decent early. An injury or two will quickly derail their season however since they're so thin. Auburn

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN AT FLORIDA: This just in: Florida is good. Florida

GEORGIA AT OKLAHOMA STATE: Another offense in transition. I'd pick Georgia if it were later in the year. Oklahoma State

KENTUCKY VS. MIAMI OF OHIO (CINCINNATI): The talent keeps rising in Lexington. Kentucky

LSU AT WASHINGTON: Even with the travel and Les Miles, LSU still wins.

JACKSON STATE AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: This one may be close. Mississippi State

WESTERN KENTUCKY AT TENNESSEE: Too much excitement within the program not to get off to a fast start. Tennessee

WESTERN CAROLINA AT VANDERBILT: Another good start for the Commodores. Vanderbilt

OLE MISS AT MEMPHIS (SUNDAY): Jevan Snead should put up some big numbers. Ole Miss


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