The biggest opening weekend in college football certainly lived up to the hype. Ten of the 13 SEC games from week one were decided by 11 points or less. There were a variety of upsets, close calls, comebacks and blowouts.
But we’ve had our fun, and that’s over with. Like players and coaches, we must look ahead to the upcoming week.
These are the best SEC games for week two.
Arkansas (1-0) at No. 15 TCU (1-0)
This is a matchup of contrasting styles. TCU wants to score fast and often while Arkansas loves to pound the ball in the trenches. Both teams won last week, albeit unconvincingly.
The Hogs squeaked by Louisiana Tech at home, 21-20, after a late fourth quarter touchdown pass from Austin Allen to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle. The loss would’ve given Bret Bielema and Arkansas losses in back-to-back years to a “Group of Five” program.
The Razorbacks enter Saturday’s contest against Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs as underdogs. TCU’s offense was electric last week, as Hill recorded nearly 500 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. Defensively, the Frogs got off to a shaky start, allowing 461 yards and 41 points to South Dakota State.
Whichever team imposes their will and dictates tempo has the best chance at coming away victorious.
Middle Tennessee (1-0) at Vanderbilt (0-1)
While it seems to be going under the radar, this could be the best game of the weekend. MTSU looked dominant last week, winning 55-0 over Alabama A&M. Meanwhile, Derek Mason and his Vanderbilt Commodores collapsed late, losing to South Carolina 13-10.
This game also serves as a bit of a rivalry. Many of the Blue Raiders’ players grew up in the Nashville area, but most failed to receive offers from the local SEC school. Last year’s matchup was a nail-biter, but the Commodores ultimately prevailed, 17-13.
The key matchup will be how Derek Mason’s defense handles MTSU’s senior quarterback Brent Stockstill, who threw for over 4,000 yards last year and accounted for five touchdowns last week.
Last season, Vandy held Stockstill to 286 yards passing on 51 attempts. If he doesn’t play better, the Commodores will again be victorious.
Kentucky (0-1) at Florida (1-0)
Florida is looking to extend the nation’s longest FBS winning streak over a single team to 30 games.
The last time Kentucky beat Florida was all the way back to 1987. The last time the Wildcats won in Gainsville? 1979. To make matters worse, this Kentucky team must feel a bit deflated after an epic collapse last week to Southern Miss and former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
Yet, even with all of this, Florida must play hard for four quarters to avoid a loss. Coaches typically use adversity to galvanize their teams. Wildcat fans are starting to feel a bit weary on whether Mark Stoops can lead them to sustained success. A win against Florida would go a long way to ease their worries.
In the previous two matchups, Kentucky was on the cusp and then let it slip away late. If they can keep the game close and take the lead late, Kentucky can stifle Florida’s anemic offense and come away with the upset.
Virginia Tech (1-0) at No. 17 Tennessee (1-0) at Bristol Motor Speedway in “The Battle at Bristol”
The biggest game in college football history.
That’s what fans are dubbing The Battle at Bristol Saturday night between Virginia Tech and Tennessee. More than 150,000 fans will attend, shattering the previous record held by Michigan. We won’t do too much of a breakdown here because the preview can be found elsewhere.
However, one thing is certain. After last week’s performance, all eyes are on the Vols. After an offseason full of hype and expectations set by media, coaches and fans alike, many are questioning whether Tennessee is the real deal or not after last Thursday’s pedestrian showing against Appalachian State.
A bounce back performance against Hokies would silence the doubters. But, Virginia Tech won’t roll over. Bud Foster is known for constructing stingy defenses. That defense combined with dual-threat quarterback Jerrod Evans give the Hokies a legitimate shot at coming away with the upset.
Edited by David Bradford
Featured image by Hayley Pennesi, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics