The much-anticipated long opening weekend of the college football season has come and gone, and now we move onto a week two, which promises to have you glued to a TV (or three) for hours on end.
In the first week of action involving SEC teams, we saw, among other things:
- Disgusting defensive displays by Tennessee and Missouri
- A disgusting offensive display from Florida
- South Carolina prove that the Gamecocks aren’t a joke (just yet)
- Texas A&M give up the second-largest comeback in college football history
- Alabama show that it is a cold, soulless machine that will crush your hopes and dreams without remorse
Overall, the conference went 12-2 with most of its best teams having good showings. Now we move on to week two, which historically is a week that sees teams take on mostly lesser opponents and generally warm up for their conference schedule if it hasn’t started already.
While that is the case for the majority of SEC teams this weekend, there are more intriguing matchups than usual for this time of the season.
Here are the top SEC games to watch on Saturday:
South Carolina at Missouri
7 p.m. ET; ESPN2; Mizzou -2.5
Must-watch SEC East contest?
Must-watch SEC East contest.
After receiving praise from fans, media and coaches all offseason, South Carolina’s sensational sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley looked the part in leading the Gamecocks to a 35-28 win over NC State in Charlotte.
Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel also dazzled in the win, showing why he is one of the most explosive athletes in the SEC.
The team from Columbia, S.C., will now travel to the other Columbia in Missouri to face a Tigers squad that put up amazing offensive numbers and an extremely concerning defensive effort in a 72-43 victory over FCS Missouri State in their season-opener.
Will Muschamp-coached teams are known for their tough defenses, so don’t expect Mizzou to get anywhere near the total points they put up on Saturday. However, this one still has the opportunity for fireworks with two of the top QBs in the division go head-to-head in Bentley and Drew Lock.
Key players for South Carolina: WR Deebo Samuel; CB Chris Lammons
Key players for Missouri: WR J’Mon Moore; DE Terry Beckner Jr.
No. 23 TCU at Arkansas
3:30 p.m. ET; CBS; TCU -3
Who doesn’t love a good ‘ol fashioned meeting between two former Southwest Conference adversaries?
No. 23 TCU will make the return trip to Fayetteville to face the Hogs one season after the Horned Frogs lost a tough 41-38 double-OT game in Forth Worth which saw Arkansas choke away a 4th quarter lead, only to tie the game and eventually leave victorious.
This will be the first true test that either team will have on the young season. The two teams trounced Florida A&M and Jackson State by a combined score of 112-7 in week one.
Like South Carolina-Mizzou, this game will feature a great quarterback matchup to keep your eyes on between Arkansas’ Austin Allen and TCU’s Kenny Hill, formerly of Texas A&M.
Although it’s doubtful that this game will be as thrilling as last year’s contest was, it is highly likely that we could have one of the games of the week in college football on our hands when these two teams meet.
Key players for Arkansas: WR Jared Cornelius; CB Kamren Curl
Key players for TCU: RB Kyle Hicks; LB Travin Howard
No. 15 Georgia at No. 24 Notre Dame
7:30 p.m. ET; NBC; ND -5
Folks, this is THE marquee game of the weekend in determining our early-season “Who’s Back?” Champion.
If Georgia comes into South Bend and defeats the Fighting Irish, Kirby Smart will have his first true signature road win of his tenure with UGA and the Dawgs dreams of the CFB Playoff will still be alive.
If Notre Dame wins, Brian Kelly’s job is safe for another week or two and the Irish will undoubtedly be ranked near the AP top-10 until they inevitably lose to either Michigan State or North Carolina just because.
There is plenty to watch for in this game just from a storyline standpoint:
- UGA true freshman QB Jake Fromm will make his first start while Jacob Eason is out with a sprained knee.
- Notre Dame will try to get a big win over a top-15 team in their effort to rebound from their embarrassing 4-8 season in 2016
- Even though this is NOT Georgia’s first game north of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1965, they still rarely play any game up north.
- Keep your eyes on Irish QB Brandon Wimbush, who could end up being one of the best dual-threats in the nation by season’s end.
Whatever ends up happening, just expect the losing team to be “overrated” and the winner to be projected to make the Playoff.
Key players for Georgia: QB Jake Fromm; S Dominick Sanders
Key players for Notre Dame: WR Equanimeous St. Brown; LB Te’Von Coney
No. 13 Auburn at No. 3 Clemson
7 p.m. ET; ESPN; Clemson -5
There are some important games this weekend, but this one is without a doubt the one that holds the most postseason implications this early in the season.
Clemson opened 2016 on the road at Auburn and looked pretty sloppy in a 19-13 win. Obviously the issues the Tigers in orange had worked themselves out as the year progressed, and they ended up being crowed the national champs in Tampa when it was all said and done.
Many of the key pieces of the Tigers’ championship squad are gone, but that doesn’t mean that Dabo Swinney hasn’t reloaded across the board. Quarterback Kelly Bryant looked like a Deshaun Watson clone, passing for 236 yards, rushing for 77 and accounting for two scores, even if it was against Kent State.
There’s also a quarterback for the other Tiger squad that’s garnering attention in Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. The former Baylor Bear was considered by many over the offseason to be one of the top three QBs in the SEC and a potential Heisman candidate before taking a snap for the Tigers.
Auburn is seen by many as one of the handful of teams that can realistically challenge Alabama for the SEC crown. Going into Death Valley and handing a loss to the defending national champs would go a long way in legitimizing Gus Malzahn, Stidham and the Tigers as a threat to the Tide’s reign.
Players to watch for Auburn: RB Kerryon Johnson; LB Tre’ Williams
Players to watch for Clemson: WR Deon Cain; LB Kendall Joseph