T-Dawg’s Winners: Week One (A)
Finally, game week has arrived for most of the SEC teams, while one program began their season this past Saturday (Florida). Personally, I wasn’t very impressed by the showing they made against Miami, a program coached by former MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. I think Diaz will bring the Hurricanes back to some of their former glory, maybe all the way back? Well, I didn’t say that, but I do think the energy he brings to a group of young men is what is needed to really communicate with this new era of college players. I would also put Geoff Collins (now HC at Georgia Tech) in that same category. But they are both in the ACC, which we consider to be a little lower level overall, right?
As I said in my predictions for the East and West in the SEC, there are several SEC teams with lots of potential, but each team is searching for new personnel to grow into key player or star player roles. How well and IF that happens for teams will determine who is looking up from the Abyss at the end of November. Whatever happens this year, support your school with honor and passion. Savor every week and enjoy the atmosphere and family-sharing that permeates each week.
Texas St. @ No. 12 Texas A&M: The Bobcats slip into College Station looking for a way to forget the nightmares of last year when they finished 3-9 (1-7 Sun Belt). New coach Jake Spavital who once was OC at A&M will try to have his Bobcats’ claws sharpened and ready to do damage to Reveille. One of the main problems will be the lack of Bobcats that have been in an SEC war before.
Kellen Mond begins his final round in the SEC West. He is the most experienced quarterback in the conference. Jimbo’s cadets are trying to reach a new level for themselves in the SEC West. The Aggies know they need to tune the engine this week before heading to one of two appointments in “Death Valley” (Clemson this time). Reveille will not have to eat the high-grade Alpo to dispense with the Bobcats and will try to give as many of the last litter of pups chances to run and play as possible.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Texas A&M 51 - 7
Toledo @ Kentucky: Colonel Stoops and his army of “Blue-Cats” did remarkable things last year not seen in Lexington since Bear Bryant won 11 games in 1950. The heart of that team has all moved on now. The defense for this year had to be imported from parts unknown. In fact, they are still trying to learn each other’s names. The Toledo Mud Hens, oh wait that is minor league baseball, the Rockets blast into Lexington Saturday morning hoping to catch the Wildcats still admiring their work from last year. The Rockets are no slouch and could spell a lot of trouble for Kentucky especially if the missiles fly at will to go with a solid ground assault attack.
Stoops is searching for some new meows with a bite on both sides of the ball particularly on defense. The kittens will be OK this week scoring a few points but may have real problems knocking Scud Missiles out of the air. Stoops hopes he can shoot down enough to avoid an epic embarrassment. By the time this one is over the “Mild-Cats” could be hanging onto the window ledge.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Kentucky 30 - 26
Ole Miss @ Memphis: Matt Luke begins his first season without sanctions hanging over his head. New coordinators are on both sides of the ball but unfortunately there isn’t much meat on the fish-bone for them to work with. QB Matt Corral will try to lead the team offensively along with RB Scottie Phillips. With only two experienced OL returning Corral and Phillips need to have their disability insurance increased.
Mike Norvell is in his fourth year at Memphis. He has been raided each year by larger schools hiring away his coordinators, yet his Tigers have gotten better year by year. The Tigers will light up the TSUN defense Saturday like an outdoor Christmas display as they begin what is expected to be their best season in decades. Luke and his “Land Minnows” won’t be able to get to the river and head south before the Tigers leave them flopping and gasping for air on the riverbank. Have you ever smelled rotting fish?
T-Dawg’s Winner: Memphis 41 - 27
Duke vs #1 Alabama (in Atlanta): David Cutcliff brings his high IQ Blue Devils south to Atlanta to check out this season’s crop of Pachyderms. The Blue Devil’s quarterback from last year was smart enough to head north and be Eli’s understudy with the Giants.
Saban felt like he got a kick in the groin at the end of last season. Saban gutted the Crimson Tide coaching staff in hopes of finding new energy and drive to instill “The Process” that Saban preaches. Tua and company should have no problem in playing throw and catch but it is the ground pounding assault Saban hopes to have renewed. This will be a game that allows the elephants to work on finding answers on a defense that ranked far below the norm for Alabama and now LB Dylan Moses appears to be lost to a major knee injury. It is often said that brains can beat muscle but Cutcliff just doesn’t have enough smart cookies in his cupboard to get a rope on the charging Pachyderms. Tua Jr. should get a little PT along with the Bear’s great-grandson Paul Tyson who helped eliminate Tua Jr. in the 7A playoffs last year (dude is very good). Meanwhile Tua will be sitting under a tree munching on peanuts.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Alabama 41 – 15
South Carolina @ North Carolina: Mack Brown leaves the broadcasting booth to take another run with the Tar Heels. There is no doubt that having a dirty foot isn’t the only problem in Chapel Hill but Brown will be a good motivator and bring much needed talent back to Chapel Hill. There are not many arrows to shoot for Mack Brown so it could be tough to watch this year.
Jake Bentley has been full of promise for three years but has struggled for different reasons including throwing almost as many INTs as TDs last year. The Red Zone interceptions were a killer in several games. Muschamp teams have been mediocre anywhere he has been and Columbia is no different. This has all the makings of an ugly game and if the black-footed Tar Heels catch enough of Muschamp’s laying hens they will have a mix of fried chicken and eggs over easy for supper. The Gamecocks should get out of town in the nick of time.
T-Dawg’s Winner: South Carolina 33 – 28
Georgia St. @ Tennessee: There is a band of Panthers from Atlanta trying to wind through the backwoods up to Knoxville this weekend. Everyone has a dream this time of year and mauling a few Volunteers could be in the mind of those Panthers. This group didn’t have the opportunity to catch much last year in fact they nearly became endangered.
Jeremy Pruitt is working on a new culture of the Volunteer army and began to show some positive results at the end of last year. QB Jarrett Guarantano showed that he can handle a long rifle and deliver accurate bullets as 2018 developed. This year he has a few more weapons around him to help carry the load but his offensive squad will have to control games until the defensive side can build a better fence and get their field of fire zeroed in across the approaches to Neyland Stadium. The checkerboards will keep the Panthers in a daze Saturday afternoon.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Tennessee 45 – 13
Portland State @ Arkansas: Chad Morris begins year two by welcoming in a shipload of Vikings that have been wondering the planet for a thousand years. Mason has done his best to make his Little Piglets believe they can possibly be 4 – 0 before they get to deal with that darn dog Reveille. It won’t matter which recycled QB plays when for the Oinks, they should have somewhat of a walk-through practice this time. Mason should spend most of his time Saturday evening trying to decide which Piggy scores when.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Arkansas 44 – 14
Georgia @ Vanderbilt: Kirby Smart hauls his dog pound over to Nashville Saturday night where he will unload them to inspect the grass. While he has them walking and getting some of their pinned-up frustrations worked out, a boat full of Commodores will likely show up and try to put a leash on the Dawgs before they get out of control.
Derek Mason has gotten his Commodores to compete week after week, year after year and achieve more than many believed possible. The Commodores will have the big guns loaded but chances are it will be the Commodores walking their own planks before its over.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Georgia 41 – 17
Georgia Southern @ #6 LSU: The Eagles of Georgia Southern invade Baton Rouge Saturday just before Labor Day. The Eagles are always one of the best Sun Belt teams and this year will be no exception. The Eagles pride themselves on their labor intensive ground game and they will give LSU all they want, count on it.
Coach Orgeron has been trying to build his Bayou Bengals up to the point that they can challenge for the playoffs. Saturday night will be the first test in seeing what his boys really do have for 2019. Look for the Eagles to be game for a while but this Tiger has too much in the tank to be slowed down yet.
T-Dawg’s Winner: LSU 45 – 14
#11 Oregon versus #16 Auburn (in Arlington, TX): The Quack attack may be back at the level they were when these two played for a National Championship. Senior QB Justin Herbert is probably the top ranked QB in next year’s draft. The Ducks have three and four year starters across the OL and they are too large now to fly so they will look to plow rows to run through.
Gus has a loaded front as well but 18 year-old kids still with their down feathers are at the steering wheel. This will be a game decided by who makes the most mistakes and turnovers. You would think that experience should win out when the pressure is on. Normally you would expect Ducks to be easy prey for a hungry Golden Eagle but these Ducks are too massive to be plucked clean. This will come down to which bird blinks first. One will leave Texas flying and the other will need assistance to find a way to get back home to fight another day.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Oregon 30 – 28
Missouri @ Wyoming: Kelly Bryant will take his new Tiger family to Laramie Saturday night to check out the latest dude ranch. The Bryant-Mizzou Show may turn out to be the real challenge to Kirby Smart’s hold on the SEC East. The Columbia Cats have sharp claws and will use them to maul every cowboy they can yank out of the saddle. Barry Odom will look to get his Tiger’s hunting skills perfected over the next three weeks before the chance to make chicken soup comes to town.
The Cowboys will do all they can to get a rope on the Tigers and corral them before they get ripped to shreds. I’ve never seen a horse that didn’t get nervous when they sensed a big cat’s presence, bucking until the rider was on the ground moaning. Bryant and company will do their best to leave the Cowboys laying in the dust.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Missouri 40 – 14
Miss. State @ ULL (New Orleans): It has been an emotional summer for the Dawg nation in ways that many of us can’t even comprehend. Just in football there has been tremendous competition for many positions with some coming in as transfers at various positions. Competition always makes you better if you accept it in positive ways and work to improve your own skills. Now that it is time to play, we can get our minds off of the other distractions that we can’t control anyway.
There will be a party at the Super Dome Saturday morning. The question is who will receive welcomed surprises and who gets disappointed? Billy Napier (ex- Clemson and Bama assistant) won the Sun Belt West title in his first year and signed the highest ranked class in ULL history (76th). Behind their OL the Cajuns ran for 206 yds./ game in 2018. Well the backs and the entire OL has returned intact, Napier just needs a QB.
Coach Jo Mo named Tommy Stephens (Penn. St. grad transfer) as the starting QB and the team voted him as offensive captain garnering over 75% of team votes. That’s important because it says his teammates have seen him work in every aspect and are putting their faith in him as one of their offensive leaders. The quest begins in the Superdome for a new identity for the Stephens led Dawgs. You have to believe the Dawgs will come out on a mission to begin making a statement about what this team is about. Moorhead won’t totally let go of the Dawgs but I think you can expect a 80+ yard game out of Kylin Hill and 200+ yards passing from Stephens. There should be plenty of PT for reserves which is needed to overcome suspensions in seven more games ahead. It may not be a total blow-out but you will see Napier’s Cajuns running out of the Dome with plenty of bite marks.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Miss. State 44 - 18
There you have my first installment of SEC game predictions for this season. I realize many will not agree with some of my prognostications but I just call them the way I feel them. I want to see State play a clean, disciplined game knowing there will always be penalty flags (refs have to get their arms in shape too) but I don’t want to see multiple procedure and off-sides calls and certainly not late hits and “targeting” calls on us. We cannot afford it with suspensions to still serve but it will be interesting to see how “targeting” is enforced this year. I also want to see controlled passion on the field and celebrations on the sideline.
There are maybe two games that could go south on me but that is the fun of it, not really knowing. I hope all of you get out and support your teams as the season goes along and stay faithful to them win or lose. If you are like me, your school is where you went after high school, where you went to grow up some and figure out who you were and what you were about. There are memories from my college days that enrich my life and will continue to for as long as I wake up each day. Enjoy the season.
Please leave comments whether you agree or disagree.