Western Kentucky at (#1) Alabama
Why WKU will win: The Hilltoppers dominated Rice in their home opener last week. New quarterback, Mike White, made his first start following the graduation of Hilltopper legend Brandon Doughty. White proceeded to throw for 511 yards and have a QB rating of 98.3 which was the highest by any FBS QB in Week One in ten years. Since Jeff Brohm became the head coach in 2014, the Tops have been an offensive juggernaut. They should provide a test for the Crimson Tide defense. WKU has a good offensive line and an NFL Caliber wide receiver in Pleasure Ridge Park alumni, Taywan Taylor.
Why Alabama will win: The Crimson Tide embarrassed USC on Saturday. They looked to be on a completely different playing field than the Trojans. They will have a different challenge with welcoming in the Hilltoppers. They shouldn’t have much difficulty slowing down a Hilltopper quarterback in Mike White that is making his first true road start. An Alabama offense that torched USC last week, should have no difficulty against the WKU defense that has proved to be the major weakness of the team.
Gorm’s Guess: Alabama 55 WKU 7: As a WKU student, (But masssive UK fan, don’t worry) I would love nothing more than my Tops to go in and pull off a major upset. This just doesn’t look plausible by any means. Alabama is looking in mid-season form and the Tops are starting a new quarterback.
Arkansas at (#15) TCU
Why Arkansas will win: The Razorbacks survived a major scare against Louisiana Tech last week and have another major test this week in Fort Worth. Austin Allen had a lackluster debut as he threw for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns while also throwing 2 interceptions. Rawleigh Wilson did show up as a bright spot for the Razorbacks as he rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown. The offense will have to keep up with a powerful TCU offense and should have success in doing that as the Horned Frogs gave up 41 points to South Dakota State.
Why TCU will win: The Horned Frogs are a favorite to win the Big 12 conference and boast one of the nation’s more powerful offenses. Texas A&M transfer, Kenny Hill, passed for 439 yards and 2 touchdowns in his debut last week against South Dakota State. The major key for the Horned Frogs in on defense. If they can stop the Razorbacks, this has the chance of getting ugly, because the Razorbacks could have issues slowing down Hill and company.
Gorm’s Guess: TCU 48 Arkansas 31: In what should be a shootout, the TCU offense is stronger than Arkansas’ and it should show. This game will be a test for the unproven Razorback secondary and will play a key factor on who wins.
Arkansas State at Auburn
Why Arkansas State will win: The major question mark for the Red Wolves entering the season showed in their opener against Toledo. Quarterback Chad Voytik completed only 46% of his passes for 124 yards. On the other side, the Red Wolves do have some playmakers on defense headined by Defensive End Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, who had 5 tackles last week.
Why Auburn will win: Auburn gave Clemson a major scare last week. In fact, they were a Hail Mary away from pulling off a major upset. Last week, the Tigers played a quarterback by committee, as Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III all had playing time. Defensively, the Tigers were extremely impressive as they found a way to slow down arguably the best player in college football in Deshaun Watson. They should have no issues with a Red Wolves offense that has a major worry at quarterback.
Gorm’s Guess: Auburn 34 Arkansas State 10: The question mark at quarterback for Arkansas State keeps me from thinking this game will be closer. While Auburn does not have a true starting quarterback, they do have three that can make plays.
Nicholls State at (#9) Georgia
Why Nicholls State will win: The Colonels have a strong quarterback in Tuskani Figaro. Defensively, the Colonels did lose a lot, but do welcome in two defensive linemen in Ronald Ollie and Marcel Andry. Ollie was a star of the hit Netflix television documentary, Last Chance U. He could see the field against Georgia in Nicholls State first game.
Why Georgia will win: Georgia was extremely impressive in their first game of the season. Nick Chubb returned from injury to rush for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. He should be able to torch the Colonel defense. This will also be a good game for Jacob Eason to truly gain his footing as the starting quarterback for Georgia.
Gorm’s Guess: Georgia 63 Nicholls State 3: The Bulldogs should be able to dominate this game. Nick Chubb will have a HUGE game.
Jacksonville State at (#21) LSU
Why Jacksonville State will win: Jacksonville State lost a lot from last season’s team that took Auburn down to the wire last season. With that being said, the Gamecocks do return their quarterback, Eli Jenkins, who passed for 2,788 yards and rushed for 1,161 yards last season. Along with Jenkins is his favorite target in Josh Barge. Barge is already the Gamecocks’ all-time leading receiver having accounted for over 3,000 yards in his career. He will provide a test for the LSU secondary. The Tigers have a huge question mark at quarterback after Brandon Harris’ questionable performance.
Why LSU will win: With the graduation of four of the Gamecocks’ best players on defense, Leonard Fournette should have a field day. The rest of the Tiger offense has its’ question marks, but the sheer talent of Fournette outweighs this weakness, especially against a team that does have question marks on defense.
Gorm’s Guess: LSU 28 JSU 17: Brandon Harris MUST play well. If he doesn’t the LSU offense is extremely one-dimensional and that could cause issues for the Tigers. If Harris doesn’t play well, LSU could start the season 0-2 for the first time since 1991, when the Tigers finished 5-6.
Wofford at (#19) Ole Miss
Why Wofford will win: In their season opener against Tennessee Tech, the Terriers rushed for 346 yards while only passing the ball 8 times. On the other side of the ball, the Terriers boast a strong rush defense that ranked as the best in the Southern Conference last season. That defense is led by DT, Miles Brown who is one of the best players in the conference. Florida State did rush for 161 yards last week against the Rebels, so that does give some promise to the Terriers.
Why Ole Miss will win: If there could be a more embarrassing second half performance than what Kentucky did, Ole Miss came pretty darn close. The Rebels blew a massive lead to Florida State and ended up falling. Chad Kelly passed for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns, but did throw 3 interceptions. He should have a field day against a Wofford secondary that has some worries.
Gorm’s Guess: Ole Miss 42 Wofford 7: Wofford may have some success running the ball, but with about as one-dimensional of an offense as you can find, Ole Miss should be able to slow down the attack. Chad Kelly should add to what he showed at times last week and this one shouldn’t be close.
South Carolina at Mississippi State
Why South Carolina will win: The Gamecocks’ defense performed very well last week against Vanderbilt. They held Vanderbilt to only 73 yards through the air. Offensively, Perry Orth passed for 152 yards, with 101 of them going to Bryan Edwards. Defensively, they will be matching up with a dual threat quarterback in Damian Williams. If they can slow down Williams, they might be able to turn this game into a blowout.
Why Mississippi State will win: Last week was a major wakeup call for the Bulldogs. Dan Mullen has a must win game this week against South Carolina. The Bulldogs haven’t started 0-2 since 2006. Damian Williams did have bursts of excellence as he passed for 143 yards and rushed for 93, but if the Bulldogs want to beat the Gamecocks, they will need to have a larger passing attack.
Gorm’s Guess: Mississippi State 20 South Carolina 17 (OT): The Bulldogs will get back on track after an embarrassing performance last week. Westin Graves will redeem himself and kick the game-winning field goal in overtime after the Bulldog defense stops South Carolina.
Eastern Michigan at Missouri
Why Eastern Michigan will win: The Eagles defeated Mississippi Valley State 61-14 in Week One. Quarterback Todd Porter passed for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Shaq Vern also added 156 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. The offensive line is one of the stronger position groups for the Eagles and they should be tested against a good Missouri defensive line.
Why Missouri will win: The Tigers lost their season opener to a talented West Virginia team. Quarterback Drew Lock passed for 280 yards with one touchdown. Wide Receivers J’Mon Moore and Chris Black both accounted for over 100 receiving yards and should achieve that number easily against a rough EMU secondary. Defensively, the Tigers boast one of the stronger front sevens in the SEC. They forced West Virginia to multiple field goals which in turn kept them in the game on Saturday.
Gorm’s Guess: Missouri 42 Eastern Michigan 14: The Missouri offense should use this game as a major confidence builder leading up to their SEC opener against Georgia next week. The Eagles’ secondary is rough and the Tigers should be able to show that weakness.
(#17) Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech (Bristol Motor Speedway)
Why Tennessee will win: Last week was a major wake up call for the Vols. Joshua Dobbs entered the game as a Heisman candidate and definitely did not play like one. He only completed 55% of his passes for 192 yards and a touchdown and fumbled on the goal line in overtime. On the other hand, Jalen Hurd was very impressive as he rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Hokie secondary is one of the major weaknesses on the team and should play into Dobbs’ hands.
Why Virginia Tech will win: The Hokies began a season without Frank Beamer on the sidelines for the first time since 1980 in their defeat of Liberty on Saturday. Quarterback transfer Jerod Evens passed for 221 yards and 4 touchdowns in his debut. The up-tempo spread offense that Virginia Tech runs is something that the Vols don’t usually see. The Hokies boast a strong offensive line that will open up the running game for Virginia Tech.
Gorm’s Guess: Tennessee 31 Virginia Tech 21: This game may go down as the “coolest” game of the year. The teams look to break the NCAA single game attendance record at Bristol Motor Speedway. The game will provide a spectacle never seen before at a sporting event. With all of that being said, I expect Tennessee to bounce back from a disappointing performance last weekend to defeat the Hokies.
Prairie View A&M at (#20) Texas A&M
Why Prairie View A&M will win: Last week, Prairie View defeated Texas Southern 29-25. Quarterback Trey Green passed for 203 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He will need to play a perfect game for the Panthers to have any shot at the upset.
Why Texas A&M will win: Texas A&M was impressive last week against UCLA. Trevor Knight played well in his debut as he passed for 239 yards and 1 touchdown while also rushing for another 2 touchdowns. The Aggie defense also forced Bruin quarterback Josh Rosen into multiple mistakes. If they can force one of the better quarterbacks in College Football into mistakes, then they should have no issue in slowing down Prairie View.
Gorm’s Guess: Texas A&M 59 Prairie View A&M 6: Texas A&M will easily start the season 2-0 before heading to Auburn next week. Quarterback Trevor Knight will have another big game and momentum will be had going into next week.
Middle Tennessee State at Vanderbilt
Why MTSU will win: The Blue Raiders dominated Alabama A&M on Saturday. Quarterback Brent Stockstill passed for 329 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Blue Raiders are an offensive juggernaut. They are able to put up a lot of points on the scoreboard and quick. They will have an interesting test in facing Vanderbilt. Last season, they fell to the Commodores 17-13 in Murfreesboro in a game they very well should have won.
Why Vanderbilt will win: As everyone knows, Vanderbilt has a good defense and a bad offense. That definitely showed against South Carolina last week. Kyle Shurmur had only 73 yards passing and Ralph Webb rushed for 97 yards. Luckily for the ‘Dores, the Blue Raider defense is not very good. This offense should be able to move the ball against the Blue Raider defense. Vanderbilt lost a game to a C-USA opponent at home last year (WKU 14-12) and will look to not make a streak out of it.
Gorm’s Guess: Vanderbilt 16 MTSU 14: Vanderbilt will escape this game. In a case of a good offense against a good defense and a bad offense against a bad defense, traditionally you have to go with the better defense. This could go either way and wouldn’t surprise me, but I am putting faith in the Commodores.
(#13) Louisville at Syracuse
Why Louisville will win: Louisville dominated Charlotte last week. Lamar Jackson passed for 286 yards and 6 touchdowns while also rushing for 119 and 2 touchdowns. This was all in one half. Obviously, the Orange are a better football team than Charlotte and will provide the Cards with their first test. With that being said, Louisville is still the better team and the Syracuse defense may have trouble slowing down the read option attack of Louisville.
Why Syracuse will win: The Orange began the Dino Babers era with a dominating win over Colgate. Eric Dungey passed for 355 yards and 2 touchdowns and wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo had 210 of those yards. Syracuse will have to move the ball and score against the Louisville defense, as their own defense does not show much potential in stopping Lamar Jackson.
Gorm’s Guess: Louisville 45 Syracuse 24: Lamar Jackson will have a huge game against a Syracuse defense that is playing a completely new scheme from a year ago. The Syracuse offense may be able to keep up for the first half, but the read option attack will tire out the inexperienced Orange defense.
BYU at Utah
Why BYU will win: BYU defeated Arizona 18-16 in Week One. Quarterback Taysom Hill passed for 202 yards and a touchdown while Jamaal Williams added 162 yards on the ground. The Cougar defense returns 7 starters, but are transitioning from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3. This is causing some linebackers to transition to a role as a defensive end. This could cause some worries as inexperience could play a factor.
Why Utah will win: The Utes defeated the Cougars 35-28 in the Las Vegas Bowl last season. Last week they defeated Southern Utah 24-0. Quarterback Troy Williams passed for 272 yards and 2 touchdowns. Defensively, Utah has an excellent defensive line that should be able to slow down Jamaal Williams.
Gorm’s Guess: Utah 31 BYU 28: Many of you may be confused as to why I am previewing this game. This is one of the nations better rivalry games. In fact, the rivalry is so heated that they had to cancel the basketball game between the schools. Like any rivalry game, the game will be intense. Utah is favored by 4.5 largely due to the strength of their defensive line that should place pressure on BYU.
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