Florida Gators running back Hunter Joyer runs with the ball as Toledo Rockets wide receiver D.J. Larkins (12) defends during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
Staff correspondent Andrew Hall breaks down this week’s SEC football matchups. He went 10-3 with his predictions last week.
Saturday, Noon/Fox Sports Net
Is there such a thing as a “safe” game for Kentucky? The Wildcats boast a new coaching staff and a highly regarded recruiting class for next spring, but it’s hard to give much credit to a program that loses to Western Kentucky two years in a row. Fortunately, what Kentucky is in the SEC, Miami is in the MAC. Last year, the RedHawks went 4-8 and they opened this season with a 52-14 loss to Marshall.
Our pick: Kentucky by 17.
No. 12 Florida
at Miami (Fla.)
The Florida Gators draw a much more difficult Miami team on the road this Saturday. Florida is coming off of a 24-6 win against Toledo that saw the Gators rack up 415 yards of offense but just three touchdowns. Miami thumped Florida Atlantic 34-6 to open the season. The key to a Gator win is simple: stop Duke Johnson. The Hurricane running back accounted for 224 yards on just 20 touches in Week 1.
Our pick: Miami by 7.
Saturday, 12:21 p.m./SEC Network
Western Kentucky’s reign of dominance against the SEC (OK, two straight wins against Kentucky isn’t necessarily dominant) comes to an end in Knoxville as the Volunteers overpower Bobby Petrino and the Hilltoppers.
Our pick: Tennessee by 14.
Toledo at Missouri
Saturday, 3:30 p.m./ESPNU
Missouri’s offense clicked last week against Murray State. James Franklin connected on 26 passes for 318 yards and three TDs. Henry Josey was healthy and ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. Dorial Green-Beckham even lived up to his hype at the receiver position with four catches for over 80 yards. I don’t think Toledo will be able to slow the Tigers down.
Our pick: Missouri by 21.
at Mississippi State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m./CSS
Last week, Mississippi State managed just three points against a typically defense-challenged Oklahoma State squad despite holding the ball for more than 34 minutes. Dan Mullen’s offense needs this game to regroup and prepare for conference play. Expect the Bulldogs to move up to 1-1 this week.
Our pick: Mississippi State by 30.
No. 6 South Carolina at No. 11 Georgia
Saturday, 4:30 p.m./ESPN
Despite the disappointment of Saturday’s loss, there is some silver lining for Georgia. In particular, consider this: the Bulldogs lost the turnover battle, were plagued by mental errors and penalties and still were only a botched field goal away from forcing overtime against a top-10 team on the road. Georgia didn’t play its A-game last week, expect things to improve this week. Conversely, we know very little about South Carolina based on the Gamecocks’ win at home against North Carolina. Aaron Murray is due for a big-game win and his first career win against Spurrier’s squad.
Our pick: Georgia by 6.
Samford at Arkansas
Saturday, 7 p.m./PPV
First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and his first-year quarterback looked just fine in the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. Allen hit on 15 of his 22 passes for 230 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. Meanwhile, two running backs went well over 100 yards for the Razorbacks. Don’t expect much resistance from FCS Samford.
Our pick: Arkansas by 35.
Southeast Missouri State at Ole Miss
Saturday, 7 p.m./PPV
Ole Miss surprised many (including us) with its thrilling win over Vanderbilt last Thursday night. Expect the Rebels to continue their improvement this week against Southeast Missouri State while preparing for next week’s bout with Texas.
Our pick: Ole Miss by 28.
UAB at No. 9 LSU
Saturday, 7 p.m./
The LSU Tigers were impressive in their 37-27 win against TCU last weekend. Most notably, the offense seemed much improved with its 448-yard performance. Expect the Tiger offense to continue to march while several new starters on the defensive side of the ball continue to adjust to their new roles.
Our pick: LSU by 28.
Sam Houston State
at No. 7 Texas A&M
Saturday, 7 p.m./PPV
If you’re looking for a team to silence Johnny Manziel, you’re going to have to wait another week. Last year, the Aggies beat Sam Houston State so soundly that coach Kevin Sumlin let Johnny Football attempt an extra point with A&M leading 40-0 in the third quarter. This should be an equally cartoonish day for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Our pick: Texas A&M by 38.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m./Fox Sports Net
After Gus Malzahn won a national championship as the offensive coordinator at Auburn and before he returned to be the head coach for the Tigers, he was the head man at Arkansas State. On Saturday, his old team comes to town looking for revenge. Auburn is still looking for a quarterback (Nick Marshall was 10 of 19 for just 99 yards in the season opener), but the Tigers had success on the ground against Washington State.
Our pick: Auburn by 10.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m./CSS
Vanderbilt will look to rebound from a disappointing season opener against Ole Miss, and Austin Peay is the perfect victim for such an effort. Last week, the Governors were manhandled by Tennessee in a 45-0 defeat.
Our pick: Vanderbilt by 21.