Alabama Team News

SEC football Week 1: Texas A&M involved in best game

myles garrett relaxing on sideline

The opening Saturday of the season in the SEC features three good non-conference games – but also some real dogs.

Here’s a quick preview of each of Saturday’s 12 games involving SEC teams.


TIME/TV: Saturday, noon, SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: Georgia by 35
THE BUZZ: ULM’s defense is the team strength, especially the secondary. How well new Georgia QB Greyson Lambert throws the ball will be interesting to see. Offensively, though, ULM isn’t much. ULM was 0-3 vs. SEC teams last season, losing by a combined 70 points. This is one of eight road games for ULM this season; the Warhawks are the only FBS school with eight road games.


TIME/TV: Saturday, noon, SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: No line (UT-Martin is a FCS school)
THE BUZZ: UT-Martin looks like a middle-of-the-pack team in the Ohio Valley Conference. Middle-of-the-pack OVC teams shouldn’t cause any issues for a Rebels team hoping to contend for the SEC West title. Still, the play of new Rebels QB Chad Kelly will be heavily scrutinized. UT-Martin is 1-18 all-time against FBS schools.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., CBS
THE LINE: Auburn by 10.5

Jeremy Johnson is Auburn's unquestioned starter at quarterback, and he faces a tough Louisville defense on Saturday. SHANNA LOCKWOOD/USA TODAY

Jeremy Johnson is Auburn’s unquestioned starter at quarterback, and he faces a tough Louisville defense on Saturday. SHANNA LOCKWOOD/USA TODAY

THE BUZZ: Two of the best offensive minds in college football, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, will match wits. Each will be calling plays against defenses that have some questions, but Malzahn looks to have far better talent on offense than Petrino. New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has changed Auburn’s scheme; Louisville has the same scheme, but a lot of new faces, including an all-new starting secondary. A lot is expected of new Auburn starting QB Jeremy Johnson, and he and WR Duke Williams could have a big day against that rebuilt secondary. Louisville will start two Georgia transfers, CB Shaq Wiggins and S Josh Harvey-Clemons, in the defensive backfield. Wiggins is expected to be the Cardinals’ top cornerback this season, and he faces a huge test in his first start for Louisville. Williams is one of the most talented receivers in the nation, able to beat corners with his strength and with his speed. If Wiggins can stymie Williams, it would put a dent in Auburn’s passing attack. The Tigers have a solid group of receivers, but no one other than Williams has proved to be all that scary.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
THE LINE: Arkansas by 33
THE BUZZ: UTEP was surprisingly good last season, finishing 7-6 and going to just its second bowl in 10 years. UTEP TB Aaron Jones is a talented back who will be running behind a line that returns four starters. But can the Miners throw the ball? Regardless, Arkansas should have a big day running the ball. The Hogs enjoy a big size advantage and should be able to run downhill all game. This is one of 10 games for Arkansas against teams that went to a bowl last season; the only other teams in the nation to play 10 bowl teams from last season are Alabama, Vandy and Virginia.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 4 p.m., SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: Tennessee by 20.5
THE BUZZ: Bowling Green is the favorite to win the MAC East, and the Falcons’ pass-happy attack will, at the least, make the Vols’ secondary work. But the Vols’ offense should have its way on the ground against what should be an overmatched BG front seven. Bowling Green surrendered 202.1 rushing yards per game last season and will be breaking in seven new defensive starters.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 4 p.m., SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: No line (Southeast Missouri State is a FCS school)
THE BUZZ: Yawn. Southeast Missouri moved up to the Division I-AA ranks (now called FCS) in 1991 from Division II, but have had just three winning seasons since; SEMO has lost at least seven games 11 times in the past 12 seasons. SEMO is 1-19 all-time against FBS schools; the win came in 2002 against Middle Tennessee State, and in the 14 games vs. FBS foes since that victory, SEMO has been held to 13 or fewer points 12 times and to three or fewer six times. This dog affords Mizzou the opportunity to get its passing attack in order.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPN
THE LINE: Texas A&M by 3
THE BUZZ: This is the best non-conference game of the season involving an SEC team and the only regular-season meeting between Pac-12 and SEC schools. Expect a lot of points. A&M’s defense figures to have some growing pains under new coordinator John Chavis, and Arizona State’s spread attack does a nice job identifying defensive weak links. Conversely, ASU’s secondary was strafed often last season – and that was when the Sun Devils had a consistent pass rush. The pass rush seems likely to be an issue this season. ASU coach Todd Graham loves to blitz, but if A&M QB Kyle Allen (who grew up about 10 miles from ASU’s campus) has time to find his receivers, he’ll light up the Sun Devils’ secondary. Keep an eye on A&M DE Myles Garrett. He will be going against Arizona State junior OT Evan Goodman, who will be making his first college start. ASU coaches think he can be a road-grader in the running game. But his pass protection is at least a slight concern; Garrett will be looking to make it a big concern. If ASU QB Mike Bercovici faces consistent pressure, it obviously would lessen the stress on a rebuilt – and highly questionable – A&M secondary.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU
THE LINE: Kentucky by 17
THE BUZZ: ULL is one of the preseason favorites in the Sun Belt and the Ragin’ Cajuns should make this interesting for a while. Still, ULL is 1-61 against current SEC members (yes, you read that right – 1-61), and UK should be productive offensively against the Ragin’ Cajuns. ULL features a physical rushing attack that could put some pressure on UK’s defense. After this, UK plays three consecutive SEC East foes (South Carolina, Florida and Missouri).


TIME/TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: Florida by 37
THE BUZZ: The line is interesting for the simple fact that the Gators scored 37 points just three times in the past two seasons combined. But new coach Jim McElwain has an offensive clue, unlike the former staff. Let’s put it this way: If Florida doesn’t put up a ton of points against a team that surrendered at least 37 points 16 times in the past two seasons, there will be lots of teeth-gnashing from Gators fans – and coaches, too. New Mexico State had the nation’s worst run defense last season, surrendering a staggering 308.8 yards per game (and 40 rushing TDs).


TIME/TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network (regional)
THE LINE: No line (McNeese State is a FCS school)
THE BUZZ: LSU owns the nation’s longest non-conference home winning streak, at 47. It will be 48 after this one. McNeese State has beaten FBS teams in two of the past three seasons (Middle Tennessee State in 2012 and USF in 2013) and lost at Nebraska in the finals seconds last season. Still, LSU should win this comfortably, though new starting QB Brandon Harris’ passing stats will be worth studying.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC
THE LINE: Alabama by 10
THE BUZZ: Two physical teams will slug it out. Featured players will be Alabama TB Derrick Henry and Wisconsin TB Corey Clement, who has the unenviable task of replacing 2,000-yard rusher Melvin Gordon. Will either team be able to throw effectively? And will either team be able to consistently run the ball between the tackles? Expect big games from Alabama LB Reggie Ragland and Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel. A big individual matchup will be Wisconsin’s Dan Voltz, one of the top 10 or so centers nationally, against Alabama NT A’Shawn Robinson, a junior who is stout against the run. Wisconsin loves pounding the ball behind its big offensive line, but if the Badgers struggle running right up the gut, they have zero shot at beating the Tide.


TIME/TV: Saturday, 10 p.m., Fox Sports 1
THE LINE: Mississippi State by 21
THE BUZZ: There was a time when Southern Miss could make a legit claim on being the best FBS program in Mississippi. Not now, though: The Golden Eagles have won a combined four games in the past three seasons and aren’t even relevant in Conference USA. They have been abysmal defensively the past three seasons, which should be welcome news to Mississippi State. Bulldogs star Dak Prescott is the best quarterback in the SEC, but he will be operating behind a rebuilt line and with a new feature back. Southern Miss’ offense is the team strength, but it frankly shouldn’t give Mississippi State’s rebuilt defense that much of a problem.


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