Week 1 of college football action raised many more questions than answers. Are the traditional powerhouses still the heavy favorites for late-season recognition? Are there unexpected programs on the rise? Is the Southeastern Conference still college football’s undisputed premier league? Here’s some insight on games within the SEC that may help to answer these questions and more as we move into the second week of the season.
No. 6 LSU (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at No. 9 Texas (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Saturday, Sept. 7 – Daryl K. Royal Memorial Stadium – Austin
6:30 p.m. on ABC
The LSU Tigers will face off with the Texas Longhorns in a highly anticipated matchup between the SEC and Big 12. Both programs could use a pivotal out-of-conference win to help strengthen their playoff hopes later in the season as well as solidify their high standings in the polls. LSU is coming off of a dominant 55-3 win over Georgia Southern where senior quarterback Joe Burrow led the Tiger offense with an impressive 278 yards and five touchdowns. Burrow is providing stability at a position LSU has struggled with in the past, and he’ll need a repeat performance over the Longhorns to put his team in a good position. Defensively, the Tigers held Georgia Southern to under 100 yards of total offense and looked like the dominant force that is to be expected of the unit. Meanwhile in Austin, junior Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger had a similar performance similar to Burrow’s, throwing for 276 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech. Defensively the Longhorns gave up 413 yards to Louisiana Tech, but only allowed two touchdowns. It will be vital for Texas to limit offensive production by LSU in order to win. Watch for a close game between two fairly even teams, with the Tiger defense ultimately giving LSU the edge in what should be a classic win.
Prediction: LSU 31, Texas 24
Ole Miss (0-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. Arkansas (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Saturday, Sept. 7 – Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Oxford, Mississippi
6:30 p.m. on SECN
This divisional showdown in the west will feature two teams struggling for identity, not only in the SEC, but nationally. In recent years, both Arkansas and Ole Miss have vastly underwhelmed, and both would have liked a better start to the 2019 season. The Razorbacks defeated Portland State by a single score in a 20-13 win. Such a close game against an FCS opponent raises a lot of questions. It’s still unclear who will lead the Arkansas offense at the quarterback position, with senior Ben Hicks and junior Nick Starkel still battling to secure the starting role. Both combined for just 191 yards and a 51.4 completion percentage. Defensively, the Razorbacks allowed only 230 yards and showed that they can help alleviate the offense. Meanwhile, Ole Miss struggled in their 15-10 loss against Memphis. The former offensive powerhouse only racked up 173 yards. Freshman quarterback Matt Corral managed 78 yards with one interception to zero touchdowns. Defensively, the Rebels allowed 364 yards and showed questionable play against Memphis. Despite its loss, Ole Miss showed a high quality of play against a stronger opponent, and the Rebels will come out on top against an Arkansas team that still needs more stable play to win.
Prediction: Ole Miss 24, Arkansas 21
Tennessee (0-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. BYU (0-1, Independent)
Saturday, Sept. 7 – Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, Tennessee
6:00 p.m. on ESPN
In perhaps the SEC’s most stunning defeat of week one, Tennessee looked vulnerable in their 38-30 loss against Georgia State. Junior quarterback Jarret Guarantano struggled with completions, only going 26/40 on the day, though he still accumulated 311 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Volunteers gave up 352 yards to Georgia State and allowed a fourth-quarter comeback to seal their loss. Tennessee will have to improve defensively to win games and may struggle once more against BYU on Saturday. The Cougars are reeling after a 30-12 loss against rival Utah. Sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson struggled with 208 yards and two interceptions. On defense, BYU allowed 324 yards to the Utes and struggled throughout the game. Look for an offensively-focused game with BYU coming out on top.
Prediction: BYU 35, Tennessee 31
Missouri (0-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. West Virginia (1-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Saturday, Sept. 7 – Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium – Columbia, Missouri
11:00 a.m. on ESPN2
Missouri was another SEC East team that struggled last Saturday in a 37-31 loss to Wyoming. The Tigers are looking to replace quarterback Drew Lock, and those are big shoes to fill. Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant looked good on paper in week 1, accumulating 423 yards with two touchdowns, and he may be able to give the Missouri offense an edge. But on the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers struggled, allowing 389 yards to Wyoming. Meanwhile, West Virginia won a close one against James Madison by a score of 20-13. Mountaineer junior quarterback Austin Kendall generated 260 yards with two touchdowns and ultimately led his team to a victory over a solid FCS opponent. Defensively, West Virginia struggled tremendously, allowing 406 yards in their game. Look for another offensively tight game with Missouri scraping by.
Prediction: Missouri 38, West Virginia 30