Each week in the SEC offers trends and predictions. Some are worth keeping, and others are destined for the dumpster.
Here are things about each program you should feel comfortable about as well as thoughts to avoid.
Bank on it: The Gators won’t lose to North Texas, but they’ll look sluggish.
Beware of thinking this: Luke Del Rio will play as well as he did against Kentucky.
Analysis: This has “slog” plastered all over it. Florida comes off a fine whipping of Kentucky, and a goliath game at Tennessee looms on Sept. 24. The Gators must avoid sleepwalking in The Swamp, but that’s easier said than done. Like the rest of his team, Del Rio won’t look as efficient as he did against Kentucky, when he threw for 320 yards with four touchdowns.
Bank on it: There will be no snooze button for the Bulldogs against Missouri after the Nicholls scare.
Beware of thinking this: Kirby Smart will know what kind of team he has after Saturday.
Analysis: Georgia was fortunate to avoid total embarrassment last Saturday in Athens. Smart had a few reasons to kick his guys in the rear end this week. Expect a stronger effort from the Bulldogs against the Tigers. But even if Georgia enjoys a comfortable victory, we’ll wonder how good the Bulldogs truly are.
Bank on it: New Mexico State will serve as Zantac after Wildcats fans developed ulcers watching their team get gutted in Gainesville.
Beware of thinking this: Kentucky’s swoon won’t return.
Analysis: Wildcats, you should be safe this week. New Mexico State arrives in Lexington after giving up 518 yards to UTEP in a season-opening loss and 336 last Saturday in surviving a squeaker against New Mexico. But a victory over a patsy like these Aggies won’t change the fact that Kentucky is in for a rough year.
Bank on it: Nick Chubb will slice the Tigers’ shaky run defense.
Beware of thinking this: Drew Lock has turned a corner.
Analysis: Has anyone seen Missouri’s run defense? It has been spotty at best, allowing an average of 191 yards per game, ranking 11th in the SEC. Chubb should be licking his chops as he prepares for the Tigers. The battering-ram running back should top 100 yards against Missouri, which saw him total 143 in a 34-0 drubbing by Georgia in 2014. Lock won’t do enough to keep pace.
Bank on it: The Gamecocks will give up massive points against East Carolina.
Beware of thinking this: South Carolina is better than those dire preseason projections.
Analysis: Buckle up in Columbia. The Pirates boast a dangerous offense that produced 85 combined points in victories against Western Carolina and North Carolina State. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s defense allowed a whopping 485 yards against Mississippi State last Saturday. Another loss here would mean the Gamecocks are who most pundits thought they would be.
Bank on it: The Volunteers will peek toward that big showdown on Sept. 24.
Beware of thinking this: Tennessee’s offense will wake up in the first quarter.
Analysis: Like Florida, Tennessee will have its mind wander elsewhere Saturday. The Volunteers come off a charged victory over Virginia Tech, and the Gators slither into Neyland Stadium next week. Ohio never has beaten a ranked opponent in its 122-year history, which is remarkable. Don’t expect the drought to end here, but it wouldn’t shock to see the Vols snore through the opening quarter again.
Bank on it: Ralph Webb will continue to be a godsend.
Beware of thinking this: The Commodores can stop Georgia Tech’s offense enough to win.
Analysis: Wow, Webb. He was electric in running for 211 yards against Middle Tennessee last Saturday. Even when he’s not busy going full Pogo Stick mode against defenders, he’s crucial to Vanderbilt’s bowl hopes. Can he play defense too? The Commodores will need help after the Yellow Jackets racked up 364 yards rushing in a victory against Mercer last Saturday.
Bank on it: The Crimson Tide’s two-game losing streak against Ole Miss will end in a big way.
Beware of thinking this: Nick Saban will have another reason to give Lane Kiffin an ass chewing.
Analysis: Not this time, Ole Miss. The Rebels have injury issues, and Saban was as sour as a lemon dipped in vinegar after a victory against Western Kentucky last Saturday. That sounds like a fine combination for the Crimson Tide to rip a familiar SEC West tormentor. Alabama’s offense must become consistent for Saban’s crew to reach its desired destination. The unit will do well enough Saturday for the coach almost to crack a grin.
Bank on it: The Razorbacks won’t give pundits a reason to stop the love.
Beware of thinking this: We’ll learn something — anything — significant about the Hogs against Texas State.
Analysis: Who’s excited for Arkansas-Texas A&M on Sept. 24? Unfortunately, we must fight through this bore before we learn more about the Hogs. The Razorbacks received big, wet smooches from national analysts after beating TCU in double overtime last Saturday. Arkansas won’t do anything to lose the affection against a cupcake, so an injury-free day should be the goal.
Bank on it: The Tigers first-year starting offensive tackles will be tested.
Beware of thinking this: Auburn will move the ball with ease against Texas A&M.
Analysis: Austin Golson and Robert Leff, eat your Wheaties. Texas A&M’s defensive line is rabid, so the two offensive linemen must be prepared for a significant task. Overall, Auburn’s offense remains a mystery. The Tigers broke out with 462 rushing yards and 706 yards of total offense in routing Arkansas State last Saturday. But Texas A&M is no Arkansas State, and the struggle will be real.
Bank on it: Leonard Fournette will be back to his old self despite concerns about his ankle.
Beware of thinking this: Danny Etling will be a major upgrade at quarterback, if he continues to play over Brandon Harris.
Analysis: Who can read LSU these days? After all the preseason hype, the Tigers still are reeling from the Week 1 loss to Wisconsin. Fournette should return to familiar form after missing the victory against Jacksonville State last Saturday, but the quarterback picture is a muddy mess. And truth be told, Etling isn’t that good. LSU needs Fournette to lift most of the offensive load.
Bank on it: The Bulldogs defensive linemen must form a stone wall to give their team a prayer against LSU.
Beware of thinking this: Mississippi State is above needing help to win at Tiger Stadium.
Analysis: The Bulldogs will have a chance if they frustrate Fournette. They held South Carolina to 34 rushing yards last Saturday, and it’s possible to contain the skilled runner. Who knows what he will look like after sitting out last week with the ankle issue? Still, Mississippi State needs a fortunate bounce or two to leave with a victory.
Bank on it: The Rebels’ spell over Alabama will end.
Beware of thinking this: Chad Kelly can perform a miracle.
Analysis: Perception is a fickle thing. Without a few injuries and a massive choke job against Florida State, Ole Miss would be one of the country’s hottest programs. Now it feels like the Rebels don’t have what it takes to extend their mojo against Alabama. Kelly should rack up respectable numbers, but the Crimson Tide are too good.
Bank on it: We’ll learn more about the Aggies this Saturday than the previous two weeks combined.
Beware of thinking this: Texas A&M will find life easy against Auburn’s defense.
Analysis: Are the Aggies a true sleeper to contend for the SEC West title? We’ll start to learn here. Victories over UCLA and Prairie View A&M were nice, but we’ll find out quite a bit about this team at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers’ defense is no joke, so Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight will have plenty on his plate.