Well, we thought that Alabama at Arkansas in Week 3 was going to be one of the premier games of the 2012 season, but the Hogs' overtime loss to ULM last weekend has quelled that hype. Tennessee hosts Florida in the most important conference game of the week. The winner of that game will establish itself as a legitimate SEC East contender, while the loser will need some help from around the division to get back into contention.
Now, let’s go inside the SEC:
LOUISIANA-MONROE at AUBURN
Suddenly, this throwaway game is the talk of the conference’s slate of games this week. ULM comes in having knocked off Arkansas in Little Rock, while Auburn got crushed by Mississippi State. Louisiana-Monroe finds itself in a game where it might actually have the superior offensive talent, especially at quarterback, but I’m not expecting an upset in back-to-back weeks.
PRESBYTERIAN at VANDERBILT
The Commodores have scored only 13 points in each of their first two games, and have two losses to show as a result. Presbyterian provides a breather, as it barely has a football team to speak of, coming off a 59-3 loss to Georgia Tech.
This one will allow Vandy to build some confidence in Nashville.
ALABAMA at ARKANSAS
Alabama already has one road victory under its belt, the opener in Dallas against Michigan. Arkansas, meanwhile, has struggled in both of its opening games. ‘Bama has proven to be much more physical, and are certainly less of a sideshow currently.
The big question, of course, is who will start under center for the Razorbacks. The Crimson Tide didn’t appear to have much trouble with Tyler Wilson last year, knocking him around and forcing mistakes. Who believes it won’t happen again, especially since the Hogs are worse along the offensive line, and Wilson is trying to shake the mental cobwebs out.
TEXAS A&M at SOUTHERN METHODIST
Texas A&M revives memories of the old Southwest Conference here. SMU, meanwhile, got crunched in its opener against Baylor and doesn’t appear to have as good a team as a lot of people expected.
The Aggies’ sometimes-soft defense might have trouble containing the Mustangs’ offense all the time, but A&M should have no trouble scoring when they have the ball.
FLORIDA at TENNESSEE
Before the season started, this game was viewed as the meeting of two potentially mediocre teams that were mere shells of their former selves, fighting for third or fourth in the SEC East. But Tennessee’s impressive opening win over North Carolina State, coupled with Florida winning its SEC debut on the road in College Station, have changed the dynamics of this one somewhat.
Tennessee has a more dangerous offense, but doesn’t have a great defense. Florida’s defense is growing salty, but its offense continues to misfire with a young quarterback at the helm.
On a neutral site, Florida should win 7 out of 10 times, but this game is in Knoxville. If Derek Dooley is to save his job, a win against the Gators is a must.
WESTERN KENTUCKY at KENTUCKY
If you’re looking for an upset special this week, here it is. No one is sold on the Wildcats, and Western Kentucky is coming off a 35-0 loss to Alabama where the score was made lopsided by too many turnovers.
Kentucky had best not sleep on the Hilltoppers.
ARIZONA STATE at MISSOURI
This figures to be one of the most entertaining games of week, if for no other reason than to watch the offensive fireworks. Arizona State is off to a 2-0 start and its offense looks for real.
Missouri hung with Georgia for a half before yielding to the Bulldogs’ superior depth. The PAC-12 is looking good so far, and Arizona State is beginning to emerge as a possible spoiler, but the Tigers have home field and that boost should be enough in this game.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM at SOUTH CAROLINA
UAB is a bit of a mess at the moment, while South Carolina may be the class of the SEC East. There won’t be much drama here, unless Gamecocks QB Connor Shaw is out again and erratic backup Dylan Thompson repeats his Vanderbilt performance, rather than the one he put up against East Carolina.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TROY
The Bulldogs are 2–0, but the majority of their fans are all but certain that MSU will be 5–0 when Tennessee visits on Oct. 13. That is why this week’s trip to Troy is a bit dangerous.
The Bulldogs have struggled in recent years with some teams from so-called lesser conferences. They beat Louisiana Tech last season and UAB in 2010 by an average of 5.5 points and lost to Houston in ’09 and Louisiana Tech in ’08.
Dan Mullen is well aware of what his team can accomplish this season and will do everything in his power to be sure the Bulldogs are mentally ready to take care of business against the Trojans.
FLORIDA-ATLANTIC at GEORGIA
The Bulldogs are getting two defensive starters back for this game, which will make it an even longer night for the already outmanned Owls. This is just one last tune-up for Georgia before really diving into SEC play, as the Dawgs will roll in this one.
Rebels sophomore Bo Wallace has been a pleasant surprise at quarterback for first-year coach Huge Freeze. The junior college transfer has completed 76% percent of his passes for 438 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He’s also rushed for 135 yards and two scores.
Those stats, however, were accumulated against Central Arkansas and UTEP. Wallace will now test his mettle against a ferocious Texas defense that has allowed a total of 17 points in two games. The Ole Miss QB will have to play extremely well to give the Rebels a chance to win as they are a 10.5 underdog at home.