Week 1 SEC football score predictions, analysis; Vols get road win

KNOXVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 11, 2020 – Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers during 2020 Fall Camp practice on Haslam Field in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Caleb Jones/Tennessee Athletics

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Each week, I’ll share my predictions and info on SEC football games. These are straight-up winners only. The point spread is just as a barometer for how big of a favorite or underdog each team is.

2019 SEC Game Prediction Record: 103-20 (84%)
2020 SEC Game Prediction Record: 0-0

Saturday, September 26, 2020
Noon
#5 Florida Gators at Ole Miss Rebels
ESPN: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy , Marty Smith
ESPN Radio: Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones
Point Spread: Florida -14
Vince’s View: The assumption was that John Rhys Plumlee would be Lane Kiffin’s guy at QB, but that’s not necessarily the case. Matt Corral is listed with him as “or” on the depth chart, forcing the Gators to prepare for two very different quarterbacks. The belief is Florida QB Kyle Trask is a big reason why many view the Gators as the favorites in the East. With the first-game unknowns, I default to who appears to be the better team. Kiffin will be must-see-TV all season in the SEC.
Score Prediction: Florida 31 Ole Miss 14

Noon
#23 Kentucky Wildcats at #8 Auburn Tigers
SECN: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
Point Spread: Auburn -7
Vince’s View: Love the names in this game. Kavosiey Smoke and Boogie Watson for UK. Big Kat Bryant and Smoke Monday for Auburn. This is a dangerous game for Auburn because of the DL losses by Auburn and the stout offensive line of the Wildcats, who likely have a Top 3 OL in the SEC and probably Top 10 in the country. This one though comes down to quarterback play. What does Terry Wilson look like post-injury? Will Bo Nix elevate his completion percentage from the 57.6% he delivered as a freshman? I’ll say Nix wins the QB battle and Auburn survives at home.
Score Prediction: Auburn 20 Kentucky 17

3:30 pm
Mississippi State Bulldogs at #6 LSU Tigers
CBS: Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson, Jamie Erdahl
Point Spread: LSU -16.5
Vince’s View: There’s so much intrigue in this one, even though it looks like another mismatch on paper. We all know everybody that’s gone from the field and sidelines for the 2019 National Champs. Trust me though, there’s still a lot of talent to work with. LSU’s wide receiver group, even without Jamar Chase (still a big loss,) has great potential. Mike Leach is also must-see-TV in 2020. How quickly can he win and make the offense prolific in Starkville like he’s done everywhere else? He has an experienced QB in Stanford transfer KJ Costello to work with. Can Leach be successful in the SEC with an offensive approach? Not in year one in an SEC-only slate.
Score Prediction: LSU 38 Mississippi State 21

4:00 pm
#4 Georgia Bulldogs at Arkansas Razorbacks
SECN: Dave Neal, DJ Shockley, Tera Talmadge
Touchdown Radio: Brett Dolan, Danan Hughes
Point Spread: Georgia -28
Vince’s View: The Bulldogs defense looks like one of the best units in the country. Georgia will use a struggling Arkansas program on a 19-game SEC losing streak to figure things out on offense. Razorbacks first-year head coach Sam Pittman jumps right in against one of the league’s best and the team he had great success with, Georgia. Feleipe Franks gives Arkansas some hope at QB, but the talent gap between the two programs is massive at the moment. The last SEC home win for the Razorbacks was November 5, 2016 vs. Florida. It’s been nearly 4 years since Arkansas won in the league at home. Insane. There are young skill players at Georgia and some talent left on the OL, but the question is who plays QB for the ‘Dawgs and how good is he? Georgia is the only SEC team to not release a depth chart as of Friday. Hope that massive competitive edge drawn from holding that info back pays off for you.
Score Prediction: Georgia 31 Arkansas 0

7:00 pm
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide at Missouri Tigers
ESPN: Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Allison Williams
Point Spread: Alabama -29
Vince’s View: Alabama is the worldwide leader in depth chart “or” listings. The Crimson Tide cleared things up for us with 27 listed for this game to start the season. The biggest intrigue will be when we see 5-star true freshman QB Bryce Young. Missouri is outmatched in a lot of areas under first-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz.
Score Prediction: Alabama 38 Missouri 3

7:30 pm
Vanderbilt Commodores at #10 Texas A&M Aggies
SEC+: Lowell Galindo, Andre Ware, Taylor Davis
Point Spread: Texas A&M -30.5
Vince’s View: Texas A&M has two things that you look for in teams to buy into, an experienced winning coach and an experienced starting quarterback. A&M running back Isaiah Spiller is a stud. The wide receivers are talented but really young. The Aggies need a better Kellen Mond at QB and the line of scrimmage must be better in 2020. Those things shouldn’t matter against an struggling Vanderbilt program that doesn’t have anywhere close to enough talent to be competitive this season.
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 42 Vanderbilt 7

7:30 pm
#16 Tennessee Volunteers at South Carolina Gamecocks
SECN: Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
Point Spread: Tennessee -3.5
Vince’s View: It doesn’t appear Tennessee will have OG Cade Mays in the season opener as the expected waiver formality from the SEC has become a hurdle that may not get settled. I think the existing transfer rule that’s a hang-up shouldn’t be looked at the same in this challenging 2020 season. That goes for the other two players awaiting word. Look for Jerome Carvin to start at RG in place of Mays. With Wanya Morris missing a lot of camp, you may see Jahmir Johnson get the start at LT with MOrris still getting some snaps. The o-line is the strength so the depth will come in handy out of the gate. Highly recruited RB MarShawn Lloyd could have been the difference-maker SC needed on offense, but he was lost for the season due to a knee injury, If the Gamecocks find someone to have a career-day running the ball, as has happened against UT in these match-ups in the past, it will be a rough sign for what the Vols have on the defensive line this season. That unit needs to find difference makers and pass rushers to improve off of last season. Another big key in this game is Tennessee’s young wide receiving group against maybe the SEC’s best CB duo in 6’4 Israel Mukuamu and 6’1 Jaycee Horn, two potential early-round draft picks. Will Muschamp really likes his group of wide receivers, so it will be interesting to see if UT’s corners have improved. The usual first-game factors that can cost you games like, tackling, turnovers, penalties, redzone issues, etc. will likely play a big role in this game. I think UT’s special teams will be a strength this year, but due to so many players missing time in the preseason due to contact tracing, the Vols didn’t get good work in on special teams until late in preseason practice. It probably won’t be pretty, but UT will make enough adjustments and plays to get the win on the road to move the Tennessee win streak to 7 straight, dating back to last season.
Score Prediction: Tennessee 27 South Carolina 20


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