Around the SEC: A look at this week’s games
OXFORD, Miss. — It is a diverse schedule in week three of the SEC slate. While some teams choose to face cupcakes from lesser leagues, others are stepping up their games.
And of course, there are a pair of SEC main courses before everyone else steps into conference play.
NEW MEXICO at NO. 7 TEXAS A&M 11 A.M., SEC NETWORK
The Aggies escaped the trap that was the Colorado game a week ago, but did lose their quarterback to injury. The new starter, sophomore Zach Calzada, was able to conjure enough magic to get A&M out of Denver with a narrow win. Now Calzada and his buddies will be able to heal up a little as New Mexico comes to town. Not disrespecting that state, but the New Mexico national guard probably couldn’t handle the Texas A&M.
CHATTANOOGA at KENTUCKY, 11 A.M., ESPN +, SEC ALTERNATE
Kentucky looked good in beating Missouri last week, running for about 16 miles against the Tigers. This week Chattanooga invades Lexington. The Mocs were ranked in the FCS top 20 to start the season, but Austin Peay knocked them out with a win from week one.
Now Chattanooga will try to do its best Jacksonville (Ala.) State impression and knock off one of the big boys. It is unlikely – Kentucky is better than the Seminoles.
SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE AT MISSOURI, 11 A.M., ESPN+, SEC ALTERNATE
Southeast Missouri State will be able to cash an in-state issued check after its visit to Columbia Saturday. SEMO has not won this season, but last week’s 52-14 loss came at the hands of Sam Houston State, the top-ranked team in the FCS.
Missouri stays out of conference next week as it travels to Boston College. Mizzou better not be dreaming of clam chowder just yet or it could fall flat.
TENNESSEE TECH AT TENNESSEE, 11 A.M., ESPN+, SEC ALTERNATE
Another yawner on the schedule, but at this point, Tennessee could use one of these games. The Vols had an impressive week one win over Bowling Green, but fell to Pitt last weekend. Tennessee Tech, well, they aren’t good. They are 0-2 and have been outscored 78-14. At least it is an early game so the Eagles can get home at a decent hour.
NO. 1 ALABAMA AT NO. 11 FLORIDA, 2:30 P.M., CBS
Now we get to see if Florida is for real. We also get to see if Anthony Richardson will be able to run wild against the Tide. Richardson is averaging 25 yards per carry in the early going. He also completed three passes a week ago, with two of them going for touchdowns. No offense, Mr. Tebow, but Richardson appears to be the best athlete to wear No. 15 in the Swamp.
As for Bama, we don’t know how good they are as they have not been tested. That is because they don’t play in the NFC South. A win in this one for the Tide is good news for Georgia and not so good news for everyone else in the league.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN AT NO. 20 ARKANSAS, 3 P,M., SEC NETWORK
Arkansas welcomed Texas to the conference a week ago, and the Longhorns headed back to Austin with a bad welcome basket that included an embarrassing loss. And the Hogs were missing two key defenders in the first half of that game due to targeting penalties in week one.
The Razorback defense had better be rested because here comes that funky option attack from Georgia Southern. Don’t forget, it was not too long ago the Eagles went to Gainesville and upset the Gators without throwing a single pass.
MISSISSIPPI STATE AT MEMPHIS, 3 P.M., ESPN2
Coaches say the biggest improvement comes from between the first game and second game in a season. Mike Leach’s Bulldogs proved that adage correct. After having to score 21 points in the fourth quarter to outlast Louisiana Tech by a point in week one, last Saturday they put a beating on North Carolina State.
Memphis opened with a win over FCS Nicholls State and Sun Belt member Arkansas State. The Tigers have suffered a loss this season when they were snubbed by the Big 12 for membership. Memphis now would like to show its worth by beating an SEC team.
SOUTH CAROLINA AT NO. 2 GEORGIA, 6 P.M., ESPN
Welcome to the SEC, Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks are 3-0, but face it, East Carolina and Eastern Illinois are not exactly Georgia. Yet imagine if Beamer’s bunch could pull this one off. An upset would throw the SEC East into chaos. Georgia’s defense looked better last week, but it played Clemson in the season opener. It is odd one of these teams seems much better than the other considering they each are averaging exactly 33 points per game.
NO. 22 AUBURN AT NO. 10 PENN STATE, 6:30 P.M., ABC
Wearing those plain uniforms and black cleats, Penn State sure looks like a slow football team. But has anyone noticed when a Nittany Lion is in the open field, he is not chased down very often. This Penn State squad might be the best team Auburn will face until the Iron Bowl.
Penn State is holding a “white out” in Beaver Stadium yet the Lions are just 6-6 in those games. The Nittany Lions will need more than a crowd gimmick to beat Tank Bigsby, Bo Nix and company.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN AT LSU, 6:30 P.M., SEC NETWORK
LSU needs to romp against CMU. Unless there is a deep collapse Saturday, LSU will be 2-1 heading into a stretch that features league games at Mississippi State, against Auburn, at Kentucky, versus Florida, at Ole Miss and Alabama before home games against Arkansas and Texas A&M.
TULANE AT NO. 17 OLE MISS, 7 P.M., ESPN2
This rivalry has always produced weirdness. Back in 1983, not only was there a power outage in the Superdome, but the game ended when the Ole Miss center stepped on quarterback Kent Austin’s foot while snapping the ball. Austin sat on his wallet as the final seconds melted off the clock to preserve the Tulane win.
This could be as entertaining with Matt Corral throwing the ball all over north Mississippi. Yet the Green Wave were a single play from possibly upsetting Oklahoma. If the Rebels sleep on Tulane, it could be a nightmare for the home team.
STANFORD AT VANDERBILT, 7 P.M., ESPNU
Looking at the preseason schedule, this one looked fun. Can west coast smart guys beat Southern smart guys? Vanderbilt did show grit last week. After being thoroughly handled by FCS-East Tennessee State to open the season, the Commodores went to Colorado State and got a win.
Stanford is also 1-1. After falling to Kansas State, the Cardinal drilled No. 14 Southern Cal, 42-28. After this one, Stanford gets UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State who are all ranked. Vandy has Georgia and Florida coming to Nashville in two of the next three weeks. Both teams need a win in this one.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.