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SEC Week 2 Predictions

Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott

The SEC flips the calendar to conference matchups a little earlier than other leagues this season, as three league contests dot the schedule for Week 2. LSU-Mississippi State, Kentucky-South Carolina and Georgia-Vanderbilt should be a good indicator of where all six teams stand. But the headliner in the SEC this week is in Knoxville, as Tennessee hosts Oklahoma. Can the Volunteers continue their momentum under coach Butch Jones with a big non-conference victory?

Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Arkansas are heavy favorites this Saturday.

Athlon Sports offers its SEC Week 2 predictions from four editors: Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven), David Fox (@DavidFox615), Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch) and Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

SEC Week 2 Game Power Rankings & Predictions

1. Oklahoma at Tennessee

Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

David Fox:

Tennessee’s looking to make a big-time statement, but the Volunteers might not have the depth in the secondary to pull it off. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was that impressive in Week 1.

Oklahoma 38–28

Braden Gall:

The first ever trip inside Neyland Stadium for Oklahoma will be as good an atmosphere as any game this season. Both teams are ranked, both offenses are loaded with playmakers and both lines of scrimmage have questions. Baker Mayfield will try to exploit a Vols secondary that got torched for 424 yards last week, while the Sooners will try to stop a Vols offense that rolled up 399 yards of offense. It's back and forth and very close. Give me the Vols in a tight one. Tennssee 38-35

Steven Lassan:

This matchup has to be one of the most intriguing games of Week 2. The Sooners’ revamped offense got off to a slow start last week, but quarterback Baker Mayfield finished with 388 passing yards and three scores. Mayfield’s performance and the development of Oklahoma’s receivers is critical, especially when you consider Tennessee allowed 433 passing yards against Bowling Green last week. This is also a good barometer test for the Volunteers as they look to continue the momentum behind coach Butch Jones’ rebuilding effort.

Oklahoma 31-27

Mitch Light:

Oklahoma took to the air in its first game under new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, a Mike Leach disciple with roots at Texas Tech. The Sooners threw the ball on 54.5 percent of their offensive plays in their 41–3 win over Akron; last year, they attempted a pass on only 40.1 percent of their snaps. With Tennessee’s struggles defending the pass last week against Bowling Green, expect another pass-happy plan of attack from Riley and the OU coaching staff. Oklahoma 33-30

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Related: Ranking the Top 15 QB Debuts from Week 1

2. LSU at Mississippi State

Kickoff: 9:15 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

David Fox:

Dak Prescott dominated in this game a year ago and will need to do so again, given Mississippi State’s personnel losses on offense since last season. LSU’s opener was cut short and canceled. Is that an edge for Mississippi State or LSU? We say Mississippi State.

Mississippi State 24–17

Braden Gall:

LSU has won seven straight and 11-of-12 since 1984 in Starkville. Having their game cancelled last week probably hurts Brandon Harris' development but LSU's running game should be way too much for a defense that is totally reworked under new coordinator Many Diaz. Dak Prescott will be great but he can't do it alone. Geaux Tigers. LSU 27-23

Steven Lassan:

LSU’s opener was canceled due to weather, so this will be our first look at the Tigers this season. How much has quarterback Brandon Harris progressed since the end of 2014? That’s the big question. Winning in Starkville isn’t easy, especially with Dak Prescott guiding the Bulldogs’ offense. I’ll take LSU’s defense to get one late stop that shifts this game in favor of Les Miles’ team.

LSU 24-20

Mitch Light:

Brandon Harris’ only start last season against an SEC opponent was a disaster; he completed 3-of-14 passes for 52 yards in a 41–7 loss at Auburn in early October. The reports in preseason camp were all positive, but Harris — now a sophomore — will have to prove himself to a skeptical fan base that is growing frustrated by the program’s inconsistency at the quarterback position under Les Miles.

LSU 24-20

3. Kentucky at South Carolina

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

David Fox:

The South Carolina defense would like to replicate last week’s key stats — three interceptions, four sacks — against Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles. The Wildcats, though, have the balanced attack that could give South Carolina trouble.

South Carolina 31–27

Braden Gall:

This is a huge game for both teams in the SEC East pecking order. The Carolina defense showed marked improvement last weekend in a win over North Carolina. Kentucky gave up a lot of points and yards to a quality ULL team last week. Both got good wins and both need this one badly, but I'll take the home team. South Carolina 30-27

Steven Lassan:

Intriguing matchup. Neither team played particularly well in the opener, and there’s an injury concern with South Carolina quarterback Connor Mitch. Kentucky’s bowl hopes would get a boost with a win here, but the defense has to play better after struggling in the opener. This one is essentially a toss-up game, so I’ll go with the home team.

South Carolina 31-27

Mitch Light:

Both teams won in Week 1, but neither staff had to be overly pleased. South Carolina was sluggish on offense (17 points against UNC), and Kentucky let a 23-point lead in the second half evaporate before scoring late to beat UL-Lafayette.

Kentucky 27-24 

4. Georgia at Vanderbilt

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

David Fox:

Vanderbilt beat Georgia on the Bulldogs’ last trip to Nashville in 2013. That seems like eons ago. Vandy’s new defense may give Georgia trouble, but the ‘Dores can’t score.

Georgia 31–10

Braden Gall:

The Dawgs should win easily but have struggled in Nashville historically. This Dores defense wasn't the problem in the loss to Western Kentucky and should provide a great early barometer for Georgia's new starting quarterback Greyson Lambert. Georgia 37-13

Steven Lassan:

Even though Vanderbilt came up short in the opener against WKU, coach Derek Mason’s team showed improvement off last year’s 3-9 mark. While the Commodores are better, it’s going to take a lot to knock off Georgia. The Bulldogs win this one with defense and the ground attack.

Georgia 34-13

Mitch Light:

Vanderbilt limited Western Kentucky to 246 yards in Week 1 but lost the game due to its inability to convert in the red zone. Georgia barely broke a sweat in a dominating win over ULM. 

Georgia 27-10

5. Toledo at Arkansas

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

David Fox:

The Rockets had a top-20 rush offense and rush defense last season, but they’ll be without star tailback Kareem Hunt, who is suspended for two games. If the Razorbacks continue to be the balanced offense they showed in the opener, this could be a lopsided finish.

Arkansas 38–10

Braden Gall:

Brandon Allen was spectacular last weekend but the level of competition was highly questionable. The Rockets are better but only slightly — and certainly won't be able to hang with the Hogs along the line of scrimmage. Arkansas 35-7

Steven Lassan:

Arkansas was sharp in its opener, as quarterback Brandon Allen completed 14 of 18 passes for 308 yards in guiding the offense to an average of 9.1 yards per play. Toledo’s opener against Stony Brook was canceled due to weather, and the Rockets won’t have their best offensive weapon in running back Kareem Hunt.

Arkansas 41-17

Mitch Light:

Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, the nation’s leading returning rusher (1,631 yards in 2014), will miss this game due to a suspension. That’s a big blow to the Rockets’ upset hopes. 

Arkansas 40-17

6. Missouri at Arkansas State

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

David Fox:

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Mizzou still has to work out the kinks on offense. Of Missouri’s 10 pass catchers against Southeast Missouri State, eight were freshmen and sophomores.

Missouri 31–13

Braden Gall:

The Red Wolves are the team to beat in the Sun Belt, but Maty Mauk will be too much. Missouri 34-17

Steven Lassan:

Arkansas State didn’t play well in its opener at USC, but it should be a different story this week. The Red Wolves are at home, and the offense still has plenty of firepower behind quarterback Fredi Knighten. Missouri does have two notable players injured in center Evan Boehm and running back Russell Hansbrough. The Tigers win, but Arkansas State can make it interesting.

Missouri 34-20

Mitch Light:

Missouri was impressive in a 34–3 win over SE Missouri State last week, but quarterback Matty Mauk completed only 12-of-22 passes. A low completion percentage has been an issue throughout his career. 

Missouri 31-13

7. East Carolina at Florida

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

David Fox:

Florida will allow its quarterback competition to continue for another week after Treon Harris, who earned the Game 1 start, and Will Grier were nearly perfect in the opener against New Mexico State. Florida is facing East Carolina for the second time in three games after defeating the Pirates 28–20 in last season’s Birmingham Bowl.

Florida 38–14

Braden Gall:

This isn't a vintage ECU team and Florida showed signs of life on offense last week, scoring more than 60 points and posting more than 600 yards of offense - even if it was against New Mexico State. Florida 38-17

Steven Lassan:

A rematch of last year’s Birmingham Bowl. The Gators were sharp in their opener against New Mexico State, but it’s tough to read too much into that victory. The quarterback battle is worth monitoring, as Will Grier and Treon Harris are expected to share snaps once again. East Carolina could hang around for a quarter on Saturday night, but this team lost its starting quarterback late in fall practice and won by eight in its opener against Towson.

Florida 41-13

Mitch Light:

ECU received a bit of a scare in the opening week before surviving for a 28–20 win over Towson. This should be relatively stress-free for the Gators. 

Florida 44-17

8. MTSU at Alabama

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

David Fox:

Nick Saban says he’s going on “feel” for his quarterback. Jake Coker (15-of-21, TD against Wisconsin) and Cooper Bateman (7-of-8) have to feel good after seeing action in the opener. Alabama may have one more game of tryouts before Ole Miss.

Alabama 42–10

Braden Gall:

Roll Damn Tide. Alabama 45-7

Steven Lassan:

Jake Coker was solid in his debut, but a big test looms next week against Ole Miss. MTSU should be a good opportunity for Coker and this offense to work out some of the kinks. Assuming the score is out of hand as expected, how many quarterbacks will play for the Crimson Tide?

Alabama 45-10

Mitch Light:

Middle Tennessee, quarterbacked by the head coach’s son (Brent Stockstill), was one of three teams nationally to score 70 points in Week 1. The guess here is that won’t happen this week in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama 41-14 

9. Ball State at Texas A&M

Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPNU

David Fox:

Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray will both see work again. Will Kevin Sumlin stick with one or the other or go with a two-QB plan?

Texas A&M 49–14

Braden Gall:

Look for more pressure from the John Chavis defensive line and big plays from youngsters Christian Kirk and Kyler Murray. Texas A&M 51-20

Steven Lassan:

Texas A&M’s defense looked great in the opener against Arizona State. Now the offense has a chance to flex its muscles against a Ball State defense that allowed 36 points to VMI last Thursday.

Texas A&M 50-17

Mitch Light:

Texas A&M was one of the more impressive teams in the first week of the season, beating Arizona State by 21 points in Houston. Ball State gave up 547 yards in a win vs. VMI. This will not end well for the Cardinals. 

Texas A&M 48-10

10. Fresno State at Ole Miss

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

David Fox:

This isn’t a vintage Fresno State squad, but the Bulldogs are still a step up from the UT Martin team Ole Miss beat by 73 points on Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss 42–7

Braden Gall:

This isn't a vintage Bulldogs team, and Ole Miss might be as good as its been in 50 years. Ole Miss 40-10

Steven Lassan:

Fresno State has pulled a few upsets against Power 5 opponents in previous years. However, don’t expect it to happen here as the Bulldogs are rebuilding. New Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was impressive in his debut and should build on that performance in Week 2.

Ole Miss 45-13

Mitch Light:

Ole Miss averaged 10.3 yards per play against UT Martin. That is very good. 

Ole Miss 44-10

11. Jacksonville State at Auburn

Kickoff: Noon ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

David Fox:

Jeremy Johnson should have a much more efficient game after going 11-of-21 with three interceptions against Louisville.

Auburn 56–7

Braden Gall:

I doubt Jeremy Johnson looks as bad this weekend. Auburn 49-13

Steven Lassan:

Expect the Tigers to use this matchup to get quarterback Jeremy Johnson back on track before next week’s game at LSU. Jacksonville State is a good FCS team, but Auburn simply has too much talent for this one to be close.

Auburn 48-10

Mitch Light:

It’s too early to panic, but Auburn’s offense was surprisingly underwhelming in Week 1. The Tigers averaged 5.3 yards per play, and quarterback Jeremy Johnson was intercepted three times. Yes, Louisville was a tough first test, but the expectations are always high for a Gus Malzahn offense. 

Auburn 44-17