Ole Miss vs South Alabama, 7:30 PM ET
When every hooker in America turns on their Motel 8 television to watch Ole Miss vs South Alabama they will quickly acknowledge that their biggest client is no longer coaching college football.
Matt Luke will have the honor of coaching the Ole Miss Rebels against an underrated South Alabama squad that has proven they can beat other SEC teams from the state of Mississippi.
Hugh Freeze is no longer the leader of Ole Miss, but they still have a lot of his recruited talent and sophomore QB, Shae Patterson is still one of the top prospects in the country. They have the talent to run past South Alabama, but the real factor will be the mental aspect of their team.
South Alabama’s fast pace offense will test the Ole Miss defense, but the talent left behind by Freeze will over power the Jaguars.
Ole Miss: 36 South Alabama: 23
Mississippi State vs Charleston Southern, 4 PM ET
Mississippi State opened the 2016 season with a stunning loss to South Alabama 21-20.
The majority of fans around the SEC have low expectations for the Bulldogs after winning only six games last season, but by the end of 2017 the entire SEC will know the name of starting QB, Nick Fitzgerald. Dan Mullen knows how to develop talent at the quarterback position and Fitzgerald will take the SEC by storm with his elusive style of play.
Mullen and his players learned to take every opponent seriously after last season, so this year will be a different story as Mississippi State will win big on September 2.
MSU: 45 Charleston Southern: 13
South Carolina vs NC State, 3 PM ET*
One-year ago the South Carolina Gamecocks were picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC after losing the majority of their talent and hiring former Florida head coach, Will Muschamp. If we fast forward less than a year later the Gamecocks have Jake Bentley under center and after his coming out party against the Vols in 2016 he looks to further his play making ability this upcoming season.
The Gamecocks (much like NC State) have a lot to figure out regarding skill positions such as wide receiver and running back, but NC State has a top 25 defense and an NFL prospect in Bradley Chubb. South Carolina will show massive amounts of improvement, but fall short at home.
NC State: 26 South Carolina: 17
Vanderbilt vs Middle Tennessee, 8 PM ET
Derek Mason was the laughing stock of the SEC during his first season as Vanderbilt’s head coach. The fan base wanted Mason fired after he made simple coaching decisions look difficult.
After a slow start to last season Vanderbilt looks to build on their impressive wins over Georgia, Tennessee, and Ole Miss to finish their season.
MTSU always produces a solid football team that can compete with SEC foes like Vanderbilt and Missouri, but Derek Mason is learning from his mistakes and transforming Vanderbilt into a competitive team that will compete with every team on their 2017 schedule.
The Commodores will trade punches with the Raiders to open the game, but as the game progresses Vanderbilt will take control and dominate the majority of the game.
Vanderbilt: 34 MTSU: 13
Texas A&M vs UCLA, (Sunday) 7:30 PM ET
In his first season as Texas A&M’s head coach Kevin Sumlin led the Aggies to a Cotton Bowl victory after winning 10 regular season games and ending the season as a top 5 program. In year two Sumlin led his team to a 9 win season followed by three 8 win season that all began with 5-0 starts.
The hottest seat in college football belongs to Kevin Sumlin and if he begins 2017 with another strong start, but fails to finish there will be another coach standing on the sidelines in College Station. Although Sumlin lost several key players to the NFL Draft he can’t afford to come out flat against UCLA, which is why the Aggies will do enough to leave Los Angeles with a win.
Texas A&M: 34 UCLA: 30
(15) Georgia vs Appalachian State, 6:15 PM ET
Last season Tennessee came a fumble recovery away from losing to Appalachian State. The Bulldogs finished last season with 8 wins after defeating TCU in the Liberty Bowl 31-23 and enter the season as top 15 team, but after a disappointing season people are having a hard time making realistic predictions for UGA this year.
The Bulldogs have a lot to prove in week one and with the return of Nick Chubb it should give Georgia the boost it needs to take the pressure off of Jacob Eason. Appalachian State always competes with every team they face, but Georgia will start strong and finish strong with a big win.
Georgia: 49 Appalachian State: 20
(13) LSU vs BYU, 8:30 PM ET*
For the first time in eleven years LSU will begin the season without Les Miles. The Tigers will be lead by Ed Orgeron, and the offense will miss the play making ability of Leonard Fournette, but LSU has the luxury of Darrius Guice to fill the void left by Fournette.
The only way BYU can pull off an upset is if LSU turns the ball over resulting in points, and after a less than stellar performance against Portland State last weekend the Heisman candidate Darrius Guice and LSU’s defense will be too much for the Cougars to handle.
LSU: 34 BYU: 10
(17) Florida vs (11) Michigan, 3:30 PM ET*
Last April Michigan led the NFL with 11 players drafted, while Florida saw their top defensive starters Jared Davis, Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson, and Teez Tabor taken during this years NFL draft. Both teams lost crucial starters on defense, but Florida takes a major hit to the secondary which was the strongest part of their team last season.
Although both teams lost top talent the news continues to get worse as Florida has suspended 8 players including top WR, Antonio Callaway for the opener against the Wolverines. With Florida losing their top play maker on an offense that already lacks fire power it will be difficult for the Gators to leave AT&T stadium with a win.
Florida: 13 Michigan: 28
(1) Alabama vs (3) Florida State, 8 PM ET*
Week one provides the country with a potential National Championship preview as Alabama takes on Florida State in first of two Chick-Fil-A kickoff games.
For the first time in three years Florida State will be without their star running back Dalvin Cook, but will see Jacques Patrick and five-star freshman Cam Akers fill the hole left by Cook. The Noles also return quarterback Deondre Francois and safety Derwin James, who was absent the majority of the 2016 season with an injury.
Nick Saban reloads his talent like no other coach in the country, and sophomore QB Jalen Hurts showed what his legs are capable of which creates nightmares for any defense. If Alabama wants to solidify their dominance to start the season, then Jalen Hurts must improve his passing game as Florida State’s defense is no stranger to scrambling quarterbacks.
These are two teams with equal talent, but with Alabama losing leaders like Jonathan Allen, Marlon Humphrey, O.J. Howard, Reuben Foster, Tim Williams, and Eddie Jackson it could provide an opening for Florida State to make big plays throughout the game.
On paper I’m taking Alabama, but my gut is telling me Florida State pulls an upset.
Florida State: 27 Alabama: 26
(25) Tennessee vs Georgia Tech, (Monday) 8 PM ET*
When a team loses its leading rusher and arguably their most important player on offense it can put a major dent on a teams game plan.
Dedrick Mills led the Yellow Jackets with 771 yards rushing with 12 total touchdowns in 2016. At the conclusion of last season back up Marcus Marshall left the team when he realized he couldn’t beat out Mills for the starting position. He rushed 94 times for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The yellow Jackets lose 1,395 yards of offense between the two running backs and their next leading rusher Clinton Lynch may not play against the Vols due to an undisclosed injury.
Georgia Tech’s next five options out of the backfield have a combined 14 carries for 67 yards in their collegiate career.
Although they lack experience in the back field expect Georgia Tech to break several long runs and throw unexpected deep balls as Tennessee continues to stack the box to prevent a consistent ground game.
Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano could both earn snaps throughout the game, but Dormady is likely to start against GT. His arm strength and accuracy gives Tennessee a big advantage based on the soft coverage provided by the Yellow Jacket defensive backs, and if John Kelly can be the running back Vol fans expect then Georgia Tech will have a difficult time stopping a dual threat offense.
Butch Jones needs to enter this game like his job is on the line and he can’t afford a slow start like the previous two seasons.
Jones has arguably the most talented coaching staff in the SEC and if wants to continue his tenure at Tennessee he needs to get out of his own way and let his coaches develop the rich roster that he’s assembled. Good coaches don’t care about running the score up, and if the Vols sustain an early lead Butch needs to step on their throats and keep his foot on the gas. He needs to take the advice of Darrell Taylor and WTFA and show Tennessee fans that he isn’t scared.
Tennessee 44 Georgia Tech: 29
* Game Played At Neutral Venue
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