And so it begins. Some will be amazed. Some will be crushed. But all will be relieved that Southeastern Conference football is back! This is the first week of SEC competition, and most of the nation will be watching to see the model that the SEC has set for others to follow. It will be interesting to see how, if any, traditions are followed. Especially for home games in this strange year. Whoever your favorite team is, get out and support them in person, if possible, or maybe just with some special friends or family. I will use mandated precautions, even though I have had COVID-19 and recovered. I am reminded of the quote by Winston Churchill during the Battle of Britain, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Be smart and safe, but do not live in fear. Enjoy what we are blessed with, even college football.
No. 23 Kentucky @ No. 8 Auburn
Terry Wilson returns after missing most of the 2019 season. He will lead his Wildcats onto the Auburn plains in hopes of serving notice that he is back and his team must be reckoned with in 2020. He has an elite SEC OL in front of him to open lanes to run and throw through. It would be ironic if Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood plays a role in spoiling the opener for Auburn. Kavosiey Smoke (from down the road in Wetumpka, Alabama) and “Mini Bennie” could both make the 100-yard club at Jordan-Hare.
Malzahn will attempt to counter his Tigers’ disappointing 2019 season with an opening win at home. Bo Nix returns for his sophomore season with a new OC (Chad Morris) scripting plays for Nix, running backs AJ Williams and Tank Bigsby. Whatever Morris has up his sleeve, it better happen quick because the Wildcat defense may be at their best ever. The Waffle House is open for business again, so Malzahn will have his outdoor table reserved for victory flapjacks. If the Tigers can’t find a way to tame the Wildcats, social distancing shouldn’t be a problem for Malzahn since friends will be evaporating in dramatic fashion.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Kentucky 31-28
No. 5 Florida @ TSUN
The traveling Gator show opens the season in Oxford, Mississippi (no not England, this is that hole in the woods up in north Mississippi). Kyle Trask returns as the most highly touted QB in the SEC. He hopes to make his senior season memorable by showing his progression under Mullen. The Gator running game should aid Trask behind an improved OL.
Lane Kiffin was brought to Oxford to create excitement. Well, we will see about that, and in what form. New OC (Jeff Lebby) will try to find ways to use the arm of Matt Corral and legs of John Rhys Plumlee. The Landshark (whatever that is) offense will test what kind of chomp the Gators have on defense. While a Gator is more at home in the Swamp, it can function well on land at times. A Landshark? Kiffin will see that they are just a fish out of water this week and find himself alone Saturday night talking to his Johnny Sins cup.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Florida 37-24
No. 4 Georgia @ Arkansas
The Razorbacks had about as rough of a year as they ever have had in 2019. Sam Pittman (who? Umm who?) takes control in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where a monumental job lies ahead of him. The Razorbacks have little left to start a barbeque with, so Pittman decided to order hot dogs. In comes Feleipe Franks(furter) to see if he can create a recipe that will sell another win or two. The SEC did Pittman no favor when they assigned the Piggies the hardest schedule in the nation by adding No. 4 Georgia and No. 8 Florida to an already tough SEC West schedule.
Georgia makes the trek over to Fayetteville looking to get their offense on track before bigger challenges come calling next week. JT Daniels (USC transfer) still isn’t medically cleared, so 6-foot-6 D’Wan Mathis and his rocket arm will most likely lead the Bulldog attack. If he does, it could be an explosive display while the experienced and deep Georgia defense will not let the hot dog boy have anything to fire up the grill with.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Georgia 42-13
No. 2 Alabama @ Missouri
Eliah Drinkwitz opens his SEC coaching career by hosting a herd of huge red elephants. Drinkwitz will have TCU transfer Shawn Robinson leading his offense and handing the rock to Larry Roundtree thinking they will be able to jive and juke their way past the pachyderms.
The Crimson Tide have finally had a summer not filled with headlines, at least not more than all the rest of us with the world going mad. Several players that were forced to sit out several games in 2019 are healed and back. There will be a bunch of red elephants stomping everything in front of them as they blaze trails for Najee Harris and Mac Jones. At the same time, Nick Saban’s defense will most certainly trample the rest of the Tigers into submission before heading home to welcome Reveille to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, next week. There aren’t enough fancy moves in Columbia, Missouri, to save Drinkwitz’s kittens from being picked up and thrown into cages at the animal pound.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Alabama 40-17
No. 15 Tennessee @ South Carolina
Will Muschamp knows there is a sense of urgency, even in a pandemic year. If he can’t keep opponents out of the hen house, then the Gamecock faithful may develop a vaccine to rid them of him. Mike BoBo will try to help Muschamp by improving on the 104th-ranked offense of last year. That will not be easy since Bobo has already lost his star recruit to knee surgery. Perhaps new quarterback Colin Hill (Colorado St. transfer) can help if he can throw it, then run to catch it as well.
Coach Pruitt’s Volunteer army makes a forced march to Columbia, South Carolina, to work out the kinks after two weeks in sick bay for many of them. Jarrett Guarantano’s arm is as good as it has ever been, though, and the cast around him is much improved. On defense, Henry To’o To’o will be getting his sharpshooting skills ready for turkey season by popping every cock-a-doodle-doo that sticks its head up.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Tennessee 27-20
Vanderbilt @ No. 10 Texas A&M
Derek Mason survived a sinking ship in 2019 despite having the 125th-ranked scoring offense. Mason sought out some help, so he brought in Ted and Todd (sounds like a cartoon and may actually be) to be new coordinators of offense and defense. Todd Fitch (ex-La-Tech) will have his hands full without a quarterback that has ever taken a snap in the SEC. Ted Roof (list too long) has been installing landmines at Dudley Field to help his defense, but that doesn’t help this weekend at College Station.
Jimbo Fisher begins year three at A&M needing to make a run at the SEC West title. Opt-outs are throwing buckets of water on a fire Fisher is feverishly trying to start. Fourth-year quarterback Kellen Mond will be trying to find someone to throw to after his other receivers took off for the hills. DC Mike Elko was counting on the Aggie defense being much stronger in 2020, but three top defenders have decided to sit out. A lot of things now need to be answered, but Reveille should still be able to pull the plug on the Commodores.
T-Dawg’s Winner: Texas A&M 38-6
Mississippi State @ No. 6 LSU
LSU had a dream season in 2019 and hope to make more dreams come true in 2020. Most of the starting cast of players and coaches jumped at the money and have left town for dry land elsewhere. Coach Ed Orgeron has been trying to pump his Tigers full of purple Kool-Aid to ward off any virus or attacking animals until they can figure out who is playing, and where. There are plenty of talented kittens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and they have heard hurricane warnings before, but nothing like the loud sirens about to blast their world.
K.J. Costello left Stanford seeking a place to bring his talent and analytical skills where he could excel and learn. Mike Leach’s newly accepted mission beckoned Costello to Stark-Vegas to join his renown Air Raid squadron. The training has been completed and now the first mission has been planned. Never let it be said that Leach backed away from any challenge. All the munitions have been loaded for the historic raid on Baton Rouge. Leach and DC Zach Arnett will send in everything on a maximum effort mission. All guns will be trained on anything that moves in purple and gold as the Dawgs prepare to shock the college football world. When the Air Raid sirens sound, and the Dawgs pounce on Big Baby O, no roar from the stands or even a meow will be heard. Nothing except a deep, gruff moan saying, blimey, that pirate has marooned me!
T-Dawg’s Winner: Mississippi State 32-24
It is going to be a fun year with many unexpected turns in the SEC, I believe. Everyone has their own opinions. You have mine for Week 1. Now, what are yours?