As Andy Williams says, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s not quite Christmas, but it’s fitting for the best time of the sports year: college football is here! Down in the South, we have a pretty good opening weekend. Almost like a fight card, the games start with a pop and build to two of the biggest bouts of the extended weekend.
We have a couple of games that kickoff on Thursday night. The outcomes will have been decided by the time you get to read this, so we can all judge my prediction skills.
North Carolina vs. South Carolina
This game is all about Jadeveon Clowney starting his Heisman campaign. Ever since destroying a Michigan running back, Clowney has been squarely in the Heisman conversation. Now it is time for him to play an entire season under that spotlight. Gamecocks 30-17
Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt
These are two of the hotter teams in the SEC. Both fan bases have been energized, and both expect to take that next step towards the Big Six in the league. Unfortunately for Vandy, they lost their quarterback last year and have had off the field issues that may come to haunt them. On the flip side, Ole Miss returns most of their impact players and adds one of the best recruiting classes in the nation.
Ole Miss edges Vandy, 24-17
There really isn’t a whole lot to say. Alabama has won three of the last four and two straight. They return most play makers on offense, and Saban just reloads on defense. Virginia Tech has been trending down the past few years, and it will continue in this first game. Alabama over Tech, easy, 38-13
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State
Dan Mullen arrived in Starkville and moved Mississippi State out of the basement of the SEC, to a decent, middle of the road team. The problem is they are in the SEC West and middle of the road means you’re the bottom of your division. The Bulldogs try to take the next step against an Oklahoma State team that is a favorite to win that conference. Miss. State may hang in the game for a while with some experience on offense, Bulldog quarterback Tyler Russell returns, but they suffered major losses on defense. The Pokes should score enough points for a comfortable win. Oklahoma State 44-24
LSU vs. TCU
The Tigers come in with a number of questions: will running back Jeremy Hill play (he won’t), will the personnel loss to the NFL hurt the defense (there will be growing pains, but they will be fine), has quarterback Zach Mettenberger improved in the offseason (he has), to name a few. The Tigers will be tested down in Dallas. TCU is a good defensive team and can put up point, but the Horn Frogs aren’t as experienced in their front seven. LSU should be able to exploit that and wear them down. LSU grinds out a W against the Horn Frogs. LSU 34-17
The Main Event
Much like LSU, Georgia has plenty of new faces on the defensive side of the ball. Georgia has the fortune of having most of their proven offense return. Georgia was able to push Alabama to the brink in the SEC Championship game with that offense, so they will always be able to score points. The issue is going to be keeping the opponent off of the scoreboard. The Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them with an offense as explosive as Clemson. The East Coast Tigers have been riding high since scoring a one point win over LSU. Both teams need this game to legitimize their national championship aspiration, but, due to their schedule, Georgia can suffer a loss and still make the title game. With two iffy defenses and two high octane offenses, this game could resemble a basketball shootout. If it happens, edge to Georgia, who will be able to shorten the game in the end with running back Todd Gurley. Georgia wins 41-38
What do you think of our predictions? Who is going to win between Georgia and Clemson? Let us know in the comments!