Posted: 1:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, 2013
By James Streble
Football season is here and the time for guessing and speculating is over. America will be tuned in to watch their favorite college teams and players faceoff on the gridiron starting on Thursday night. It feels like forever since we last watched a football game that actually mattered (sorry NFL preseason, but it's true) and there is a full slate of games to watch.
Each week during football season here on A Sea of Blue, yours truly will preview and predict the Kentucky football game as well as an SEC game of the week and a national game of the week. I will also throw in an NFL game of the week as soon as the pros start in a couple of weeks.
Feel free to predict along with me as the season goes on. I'm sure many of you are better at this than me, but no money is involved and it's for fun and discussion purposes.
Without further ado, let's take a look at some college football match ups.
The Mark Stoops era and the Bobby Petrino era couldn't begin in more dramatic fashion. Both these first year head coaches desperately want to impress their new fan bases with a win. Petrino has been ultra-focused on the ‘Cats during fall camp. Part of him may feel spurned that he was not interviewed for a job that which he was clearly interested, and a win against the Wildcats would give the usually cocky coach a reason to gloat and stick it to the BBN.
Stoops wants to win for entirely different reasons. He has a new team, a new staff and a reenergized fan base behind him. A win would avenge an embarrassing loss in Lexington last season and would instill confidence in a young team that was demoralized last season. If his ‘Cats win, Commonwealth Stadium will be jammed next Saturday for the game against Miami (OH) as they look to go 2-0 before Louisville comes to town.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves here; this game is extremely important. It will give the fans a first look at Neal Brown's offense and the defense that made Stoops such an attractive candidate for head coach. Will the ‘Cats indeed use a dual-quarterback system? Is the secondary good enough to compete? How good is that defensive line? These questions and more will be answered.
The crowd will be electric and Kentucky should be ready to go out to prove people wrong. There is some SEC level talent on the team and I think this will be too much for WKU to handle. Add to the fact that the UK players don't want to lose to WKU for a second consecutive year should be a recipe for a win.
Kentucky Wildcats 28-WKU Hilltoppers 17
Thursday, August 29th: SEC Game of the Week: Vanderbilt Commodores (0-0) vs. Ole Miss Rebels (0-0)- 9:15 PM on ESPN
Vandy and Ole Miss are two teams that were on the rise in the SEC last season. Both teams went to a bowl game at the end of the season and both teams were victorious. The ‘Dores are replacing QB Jordan Rodgers and starting running back Zach Stacy on offense while their stout defense remains mostly intact. The tumultuous offseason that they experienced may come into play as well.
The Rebs are coming off their best season in years. Second year head coach Hugh Freeze has been burning it up on the recruiting trail and has turned a losing program into a competitor. Junior QB Bo Wallace returns as the leader in passing yards and the second leading rusher. Their defense ranked 60th in points against but the unit is young and looking to improve. An early test against an offense in transition may prove to be exactly what they need to gain some momentum.
The Rebels have more coming back than the Commodores and they will start their season 1-0.
Ole Miss Rebels 21-Vanderbilt Commodores 14
There are plenty of intriguing games this weekend but this is the Big Daddy. Two top ten teams, two top ten quarterbacks, and two top ten offensesare set to face off on national TV. Taj Boyd and Aaron Murray are the big names returning for both teams and both have Heisman dreams dancing in their heads.
Georgia is the sexy pick to upset Alabama in the SEC Championship game and to go on and win the national title. The Bulldog offense is all that and more, but many of last season's defenders are now on NFL rosters. The Dawg defense is young and will be tested against Boyd and the high scoring Tiger offense.
Clemson put up 41 points a game in 2012, sixth best in the nation. But like Georgia they might have trouble on defense where they gave up 24.8 points a game. This could mean trouble as Murray and Todd Gurley are looking to possibly break some records this season.
Although the Bulldogs are infamous for starting slowly, it's tough to pick ACC to beat SEC, no matter what time of year it is.
Georgia Bulldogs 38-Clemson Tigers 24
There you have it folks. Leave your predictions for these games or any others in the comments section. Enjoy this awesome week and Go ‘Cats!