SEC Week One Preview
Two teams on the rise meet to start the season as Vanderbilt hosts Ole Miss on Thursday night in the only SEC conference game of the opening weekend. The teams combined for eight wins total in 2011, before doubling that mark last season as both the Commodores and Rebels made bowl games.
Alabama opens the season as the #1 team in the country, looking to win their third-consecutive BCS National Championship. The first team standing in their way is Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech squad. The teams will meet on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, where they also met to begin the 2009 season when Alabama defeated the Hokies 34-24.
Auburn and Washington State both went 3-9 in 2012, but only one can get off to a better start in 2013 as the teams face each other week one at Auburn. For the Tigers, they welcome Gus Malzahn back to the sidelines as they hope to rekindle some of their offensive magic from the national championship team of three seasons ago.
It’s a top-ten showdown under the lights as No. 5 Georgia opens the season on the road at No. 8 Clemson. Veteran Quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd will garner the attention and look to make a Heisman-worthy statement in week one. Georgia has won five in a row over the Tigers dating back to 1991.
No. 13 LSU has an opportunity to open the season with a win over a ranked opponent for the third time in four years as they travel to Arlington to face No. 20 TCU in a neutral-site, nonconference matchup. Les Miles is 38-4 in nonconference games since taking over in Baton Rouge and has yet to lose a season opener.
Mississippi State and No. 14 Oklahoma State meet for the fifth time in their histories, and first time since 1999, as they open the season with a neutral-site game in Houston. Three quarterbacks in this game threw for over 1,500 yards last season as the Bulldog’s Tyler Russell threw for almost 3,000 yards, while Oklahoma State’s tandem of Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh combined for over 3,100 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Expectations have seldom been higher for South Carolina who enters the season ranked seventh and features one of the game’s top returning players in DE Jadaveon Clowney. They start the season on a Thursday night for the seventh time since 2007 (6-0), this time against North Carolina.
Arkansas scored a major win in the offseason landing former Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, and now the Razorbacks hope to get some wins on the field. Arkansas starts the Bielema era with a home game against the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette.
No. 10 Florida kicks off the 2013 campaign with a home matchup against Toledo. The Gators are coming off an 11-win season with junior QB Jeff Driskel returning for his second full season as the starter.
Kentucky opens the season with a neutral-site game against Western Kentucky, but this game has been no pushover for the SEC team in recent years. Western Kentucky defeated the Wildcats in overtime last season, and Kentucky squeaked by with a 14-3 win to open the 2011 season.
After meeting on the gridiron every year from 1920-1995, No.6 Texas A&M and Rice renew their rivalry on Saturday in College Station. A&M had a successful first season in the SEC, winning 11 games for the first time since 1998 with sophomore QB Johnny Manziel claiming the Heisman Trophy.
Missouri looks to rebound from a tough opening season in the SEC, hosting Murray State from the Ohio Valley Conference in game one.
Tennessee starts the season with a new head coach for the third time in the past five seasons as they face FCS squad Austin Peay. Butch Jones joins the Vols after three seasons as the head coach at Cincinnati.