Kenneth Harrison

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The Big Game

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The matchup for Super Bowl LV is set, Kansas City (14-2) versus Tampa Bay (11-5).

Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in his first season with the team and his tenth appearance in the big game.

Tampa Bay will be the first team to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

When it comes to this it seems like a technicality because there have been teams that played in their hometown but not stadium.

For instance, the 1979 Los Angeles Rams played Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl. The 1984 San Francisco 49ers played Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium.

This is a matchup of the young upstart QB against the greatest of all time.

The Chiefs are defending champions, led by Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was second in the league in passing yards with 4,740, 38 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Brady was third with 4,633, 40 TD’s and 12 picks.

Both teams are loaded with offensive weapons. Tight end Travis Kelce is fifth in receptions (105) and second in receiving yards (1,416) in the league, which includes wide receivers. He also had 11 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill had 87 receptions for 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Tampa Bay’s star play makers have missed a few games this season with injuries.

Mike Evans had 70 catches, 1,006 yards and 13 TD’s. Chris Godwin played in 12 games with 65 receptions, 840 yards and 7 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski had 45 catches, 623 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Buccaneers also have two talented running backs, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.

These teams met in Week 12 in Tampa. Kansas City won 27 – 24, but the game did not seem as close as the final score.

The Chiefs led 20 – 7 at halftime and the Bucs scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. Hill had 13 receptions, 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. The number one priority will be to stop him in this game.

Tampa Bay is 6th in total defense and Kansas City is 16th. The Chiefs are average on defense but in today’s NFL they just need to outscore opponents.

The road to the Super Bowl was very different for these teams. The Bucs were the fifth seed in the NFC, so they had to play three road games. They beat Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay to get here. The NFC Championship was a hard fought 31 – 26 win over the Packers.

“Tom is the GOAT (greatest of all time),” said Bucs receiver Scotty Miller, who caught a 39-yard touchdown pass with 1 second left until halftime. “Last year, we ended 7-9. This year, we’re going to the Super Bowl. He’s the biggest reason.”

The Chiefs were the number one seed in the AFC so they had home field advantage and a bye week in the first round.

They played Cleveland in the divisional round and won 22 – 17. Mahomes was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

In the AFC Championship they beat Buffalo 38 – 24. There were several times in the game where both teams got into scuffles.

I think this is going to be a very close game. Losing the first meeting should give Tampa Bay an advantage because they know what to expect.

Also, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienimy is the hottest candidate to get a head coaching job. This has to provide some distraction for him going in to this game.

Shot Caller

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL regular season is over, and the Atlanta Falcons finished 4 – 12.

Atlanta has the No. 4 pick in the upcoming 2021 draft. They fired Dan Quinn earlier in the season and they need to hire a new coach (and GM).

Let’s take a look at some of the candidates and see who the best fit is.

I’m going to say one thing before I start. I’m not a big fan of hiring coordinators for their first head coaching position. The reason is players make them look much better than what they actually are.

For instance, Brian Billick was labeled an offensive genius as the Vikings offensive coordinator. When he coached the Baltimore Ravens, they were never good on offense.

We can also say the same thing about Quinn coaching the top defense in Seattle and coming to Atlanta.

Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator in New England also before becoming a head coach.

Eric Bienemy is the Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and he’s the hottest candidate. He has the benefit of coaching Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

This is another case of the talent he coaches that makes him seem like a great play caller. If the roster stays the same there will be talent at the skill positions for the Falcons, except at running back. This might be a decent fit for both.

Josh McDaniels is back in New England in his second stint as OC from 2012 to now. He was also there from 2005-08 as the play caller. He was the head coach for Denver from 2009-10 and his record was 11 – 17.

In 2018 he was announced as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and the same day he withdrew from the position to stay with the Patriots.

I think this would be a very bad fit. McDaniels coached Tom Brady, who is one of the best quarterbacks of all time. That has helped to bolster his status, but it hides the fact he’s not an elite coach. The Patriots were 27th in total offense this season after Brady left town.

Lincoln Riley is the Oklahoma head coach. He’s had that position since 2017 and he’s led the Sooners to a 45 – 8 record.

His offense is explosive and continues to have success with whoever plays quarterback.

He has coached NFL starters like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts.

This season with Spencer Rattler as the signal caller they were still one of the best offenses in the country.

I think this would be the best fit because offense wins championships now.

He’s also an experienced head coach. A few years ago, college coaches had a tough time transitioning to the NFL. Now the NFL has adopted so much from college football that it is not as difficult.

We have also seen former college coaches have success in the NFL with Pete Carroll being the most successful.

Brian Daboll is the Buffalo Bills OC. Before getting hired for that position in 2018 he spent one season as the co-offensive coordinator and QB coach at Alabama.

He also served as OC for Cleveland (2009-10), Miami (2011) and Kansas City (2012).

I think this would be an average fit with the Falcons. He helped develop a young quarterback, Josh Allen. Allen has improved in each of his three seasons and he is drastically better this year.

Tampa Bay Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich is also a possible candidate.

Hopefully Atlanta can hire a good general manager and head coach. The franchise needs a turnaround badly.

High Tide

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC Championship Game saw #1 Alabama (10-0) face off against #7 Florida (8-2).

These two programs played in the first SEC Championship Game in 1992. This was a matchup of two historically great programs, but it also determined the Heisman winner.

Mac Jones and Kyle Trask were the two frontrunners to win the Heisman and they did not disappoint.

This was the first real test for the Crimson Tide against a Gators team that would not quit. This is the case of the best player on the best team versus the best player in college football.

Mac Jones threw for 418 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Najee Harris rushed for 178 yards and scored five TD’s. DeVonta Smith caught 15 receptions for 184 yards and two scores. It was enough to win a 52 – 46 shootout in Atlanta.

“Those guys are pretty phenomenal. They have been all year,” Nick Saban said. “They certainly delivered tonight when we needed them to.”

The Gators trailed 35 – 17 at halftime but they scored a couple of third quarter touchdowns and held Alabama scoreless. They scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Bama scored 17 points.

Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and 3 touchdowns.

“We were rolling pretty good,” said Trask. “We just ran out of time.”

Harris was the MVP of the game. He had 31 carries for 178 yards, but he also caught 5 passes for 67 receiving yards and turned three of those into scores.

“I’ve been catching the ball since birth,” he quipped. “People don’t expect it because of the running back name, but I can catch.”

Harris set an SEC championship game record with his five touchdowns, breaking the mark of four scored by Auburn’s Tre Mason in 2013. The Alabama senior also broke a couple of school records, setting new standards for career rushing TDs (44) and overall TDs (54).

Kadarius Toney led the Gators with 8 receptions for 153 yards 1 TD. Tight end Kyle Pitts had 7 catches, 129 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s leading rusher only had 2 carries for 24 yards. I think the lack of offensive balance has been a problem all season that came back to haunt them in this game.

“I thought we showed a lot of character,” coach Dan Mullen said. “That was an excellent team we played … give them credit. That’s why they’re ranked No. 1 in the country.”

This win completed an undefeated season for Alabama. They are the clear favorites going into the College Football Playoff.

“This has been a year with a lot of disruptions,” said Saban, who had his own bout with COVID-19. “The resiliency this team has shown this season to win 11 games is pretty phenomenal.”

The only team that I think is capable of beating Alabama is Clemson. The Tigers would not see them until the National Championship, assuming both teams win. They beat #2 Notre Dame 34 – 10 in the ACC Championship Game.

No Sting For Tech?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Geoff Collins is only in his second season at Georgia Tech. It may be too early to say if he was the right hire, but we can check his progress.

As you know he replaced Paul Johnson, who was there for 11 years. He was famous for being the only Power 5 team to run the triple option.

Collins runs a spread offense, so he has a completely different style. Many of the kids on the roster do not have the skillset for that offense.

Johnson was also notorious for not recruiting well. Collins is trying to improve the overall talent on the roster.

Tech’s 2020 recruiting class was ranked 27th nationally and fifth in the ACC.

There were four 4-star recruits in that class. They include quarterback Jeff Sims, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, corner back Miles Brooks and defensive end Jared Ivey.

The 2022 class is currently ranked 32nd and they have two 4-star players in the class. Obviously, it’s not set in stone until signing day so this can change.

Anytime you see Collins he talks about changing the culture and the 404 (Atlanta’s first area code). I’ll be honest, I think it would be better if he spoke more about the game of football.

It seems like he has more style than substance because of that but what do I know.

Let’s take a look at his on-field results. His record at Tech is 6 – 14.

In his first season in 2019 he was 3 – 9 and 2 – 6 in conference play.

He was not expected to have instant success. One score I want to mention so we can compare it to this season is the Clemson game. Last season in Death Valley the Tigers won 52 – 14.

This season they played Clemson at home in the fifth game of the season.

They were steamrolled 73 – 7. I was alarmed by that score because it made me think, how was your team better last season?

In year 2 there should be better talent and more experience playing in your system. I probably oversimplified his progress by just looking at that game.

The Yellow Jackets are 3 – 5 so far in 2020. All three wins are in conference play, so they have more ACC wins than they did last season.

Also, we have to admit during this pandemic that this year is more difficult than normal circumstances.

Speaking of that, Georgia Tech just played their first game after an unexpected four-week layoff. I think this game may have been the turning point for Collins.

They beat Duke 56 – 33 at home. The true freshmen played well. Gibbs had touchdown runs of 61 and 26 yards in the first half before leaving with a hamstring injury.

Sims threw for 3 touchdown passes and ran for 108 yards, setting career highs. Jordan Mason ran for 105 yards.

Three players earned ACC honors after the game. Defensive end Jordan Domineck was named defensive lineman of the week. He had 2 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. He had a strip sack in the end zone and recovered the ball for a touchdown.

Sims was rookie of the week and offensive lineman Zach Quinney was co-offensive lineman of the week.

My opinion on Collins has changed and I think he has the team on the right track. He needs one or two more recruiting classes and a normal offseason to get things back on track.

Making The Grade?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Going into the season many experts thought the NFC South would be the toughest division. Now that we’re a little more than halfway through the season let’s take a look at how each team is doing and grade them on their midseason report card.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers (6-3) have a lot of hype surrounding them.

As you know they signed the greatest quarterback of all time Tom Brady in the off-season. They also traded to get his favorite target, tight end Rob Gronkowski. They already had Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

They also signed running back Leonard Fournette and recently acquired future Hall of Fame receiver Antonio Brown.

They are stacked with talent, but the Saints are their kryptonite. They were swept by New Orleans and they did not play well in those games.

This past week they were pummeled 38 – 3 by them. The week before they barely beat the 1-7 New York Giants 25 – 23.

The defense is pretty good, ranked fourth in the league in total defense.

The Bucs are a playoff team but not as good as we expected. Grade: B-.

New Orleans: The Saints (6-2) are flying high. Their tied for the best record in the NFC.

They have the potential to be the top seed and have home field advantage in the playoffs. I will admit that with limited crowd sizes this season due to the pandemic it might not mean as much as it has previously.

Star wide receiver Michael Thomas has missed several games due to a suspension for a fight in practice and a hamstring injury.

In the two games he’s played in he has 8 catches and 68 yards. On the bright side he should be well rested.

The defense is 3rd in the league in total defense, allowing 312 yards and 25 points per game.

New Orleans is the total package. Grade: A.

Atlanta: The Falcons (3-6) got off to another slow start, losing the first five games of the season.

Head Coach Dan Quinn was fired, and Raheem Morris was named the interim head coach.

In those four games they are 3-1. I look at it as too little, too late. Quarterback Matt Ryan is leading the league in passing yards and he’s on his way to another Pro Bowl.

Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are both on pace to have over a thousand yards and they both have missed games.

Running back Todd Gurley was signed as a free agent and he’s having a decent season.

Gurley is fifth in rushing yards (584) and second in rushing touchdowns (9). The defense is 28th in total defense, allowing 410 YPG and 27.9 PPG.

Grade: D-.

Carolina: The Panthers (3-6) got rid of Cam Newton and signed Teddy Bridgewater to replace him.

The best running back in the NFL, Christian McCaffrey is their only real threat on offense.

McCaffrey injured his ankle Week 2 and missed 6 games before returning Week 9.

They signed former Jets receiver Robby Anderson as a free agent and that was a great move. Anderson is fourth in the league in receiving yards with 751. DJ Moore is also having a good season with 640 receiving yards and 3 TD’s.

The defense is average, ranking 17th in total defense. They give up 362 YPG and 25 PPG.

Grade: D.

Swimming Forward

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Miami Dolphins are having a season better than most people would have expected before the season started.

They were 3 – 3 with starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. They won two consecutive games with him and were second place in the AFC East. Kind of a strange time to bench him for rookie Tua Tagovailoa.

The last time we saw Tagovailoa his final season at Alabama was cut short due to a devastating hip injury.

It was so bad we don’t even factor in the broken nose he also suffered on that play. That injury was so bad it could possibly end his football career so it’s impressive the fifth overall pick has kept battling.

The biggest factor for this QB change is the potential for a high 2021 draft pick.

They traded disgruntled tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans and they will have their first-round pick.

The Texans are 1 – 6 and heading for a terrible season. The front office probably wants to find out now if Tua is the answer. If not, they might have an opportunity to Draft Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields.

Let’s recap Tua’s first start. I didn’t think they did him any favors with letting him play against the Los Angeles Rams.

As you know LA has super star defensive tackle Aaron Donald and corner back Jalen Ramsey. Not very quarterback friendly. Miami shocked us with an upset win, 28 – 17. Delving deeper though we see Tua was not the reason.

Tagovailoa completed 12 of 22 pass attempts for 93 yards and 1 touchdown.

Those sound like 1970’s stats. He also had one fumble. The Rams had 471 total yards and Miami only had 145 yards.

They also had 31 first downs and the Dolphins only had 8. The difference in the game was turnovers and special teams.

Los Angeles had 4 turnovers and Miami had 2. Miami scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. They also returned a punt for a touchdown.

Here’s some of what Tua had to say about his first start. “I don’t think I played to the standard of what this offense is capable of. There were certain plays where I could have stepped up and made the right throw, made the right decision. But I’ve heard it many times from the guys in the locker room: I’s good that we still came out with the win. Aside from that, thank God we’ve got a good defense, so when we do start to string good plays together, we know that we can be able to make plays and then get the ball back and continue to try to do the same.”

Tua also added, “It was fun just being able to go out there and play a full 60-minute game now. Being that it was my first start in the NFL. We really faced a really good defense. I’m proud of what we’ve got to do offensively, but I do know that there’s still a lot of things we need to correct come Monday. But you can’t say that this defense isn’t really good — they’ve got [Michael] Brockers, they’ve got Aaron Donald, they’ve got [Taylor] Rapp, Jalen Ramsey and all these other guys — and not expect to be stopped a good amount of times. That’s just not realistic.”

Miami is now 4 – 3 but they won’t have a winning record for long. The next game is at Arizona. Kyler Murray is playing very well and living up to being the first overall pick in 2019.

I hope Tua can continue to improve because he’s on a very short leash.

 

 

Out Of Sorts

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Florida Gators might be the team that embodies this strange 2020 season the best.

The Gators stopped all football activities Oct. 13 after a coronavirus outbreak spread through the team.

Head coach Dan Mullen and two assistants also tested positive, with at least 26 players positive since that time.

“Everybody’s really excited to get back to football and get back playing,” Mullen said. “I think that’s something that is big within the team right now is that ability to get back out on the field.

This year’s been a unique year like no other, with stops and starts and different schedules. Our guys have handled everything extremely well throughout the year. I think they’re going to be really excited to get back out there on the practice field.

“I don’t expect us to come out there and have our sharpest, most crisp practice of the year, but I expect us to have great energy, excitement and enthusiasm to be back out there to get going as we build up to Saturday.”

During the two-week quarantine period Florida had to postpone games against LSU and Mizzou. That was much needed time to gain experience and try to get better against outside competition. They also were not able to work out during this time.

Through the first three games quarterback Kyle Trask looked like a Heisman Trophy frontrunner. He’s thrown for 996 yards, 14 touchdowns, 1 interception while completing 72% of his passes.

His favorite target is another Kyle, tight end Kyle Pitts. Pitts has 17 receptions, 274 yards and 7 TD’s. UF looked like one of the best offenses in the nation.

The Gators were ranked No. 4 in the last game they played at Texas A&M. They were upset by the Aggies and lost 41 – 38. I think the team’s confidence was shaken after that loss then they have not had the opportunity to build it back since the last two games were postponed.

The defense has been atrocious. They’ve given up an average of 495 yards per game and 33 PPG. I don’t think that’s something they can flip a switch and fix quickly.

Before the teams COVID outbreak they had one advantage going into the Georgia game, which was a bye week. That week was used to reschedule the Mizzou game.

No matter how hard they try, game shape can only be worked on by playing games. I think the team will struggle in this game. Also, if there are any injuries, they will be in jeopardy of missing the following game against UGA.

Florida will be at a disadvantage going into the November 7th showdown. Their defense can’t stop anybody without any of the things we talked about factored in.

At this point we do not know what we are going to get out of them. The offense might be out of sync now with the layoff.

Lift Off

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons finally won a game.

Dan Quinn was finally put out of his misery after starting the season 0 – 5. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has taken over as interim head coach. You may remember when he was head coach for Tampa Bay from 2009 – 2011.

Julio Jones returned after missing the last game and a half with a hamstring injury. His return helped spark the offense.

Jones finished with 8 catches for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 40-yarder off a broken play that helped put the game out of reach. The Falcons won 40 – 23 on the road at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

It was Jones’ 57th career game with at least 100 receiving yards, which is the most among active players and the fourth-most in NFL history. Jerry Rice (76), Randy Moss (64) and Marvin Harrison (59) are the only players ahead of him. They are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so he’s in great company.

“At the end of the day, I felt great coming into this game,” Jones said. “No complaints. No hamstring injury issues. No tightness and things like that to prevent me from bring who I want to be on game day.”

The Falcons scored on 8 of 12 possessions, with one kneel down at the end of the game.

Matt Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns, with an average yards per attempt of 9.3.

“I think that’s always the mindset I’ve had, to go out there and play my best every week,” Ryan said. “We have to earn everything we get in this profession. I don’t think it really changed my approach or anything. I believe I have a really good process and a way to get ready week in and week out. I trust that process.”

Atlanta jumped on the Vikings early and went into halftime with a 20 – 0 lead. As you know they crumbled in the second half and dropped second half leads under Quinn. I thought they were doomed because the Falcons have shown us, they don’t play well with a lead. I give Morris credit because they played well in the second half.

They recovered two onside kicks. It was the opposite of the debacle in Dallas when the kickoff team sat back and waited for the ball to roll 10 yards. On both onside kicks they attacked the ball and caught it as it came to them.

The defense had 3 interceptions on the season coming into this game. They forced Kirk Cousins to throw 3 picks in this game. They did allow rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson 9 receptions, 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. I have him on my fantasy team but for some reason I had him on the bench.

The New York Giants also got their first win of the season yesterday. That leaves the Jets as the only winless team in the league. I bring that up because they have the work record and they are front runners to pick Trevor Lawrence first in the 2021 draft.

Atlanta is not a good team, but I think they are on track to get a few more meaningless wins that will make them pick lower in the draft.

The next two games are home against Detroit then at Carolina for Thursday Night Football. Those are games that are winnable.

Who knows, they might be in the playoff hunt if they can win those games then beat Denver.

Collapsible

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Some things in life are guarantees. For instance, death and taxes are something we all know is inevitable. Well in the sports world we can add a new guarantee; the Atlanta Falcons blowing a second half lead.

Dan Quinn took over as head coach before the 2015 season and he had his most successful season early on. In his second season the Falcons were 11 – 5 and advanced to Super Bowl LI.

As you all know they held a 28 – 3 lead over New England with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

They collapsed and lost the game. I believe all of the momentum was sucked out of the team at that moment. They were 10 – 6 the following year and made a playoff appearance. The last two seasons, they were 7 – 9.

Week 2 at Dallas looked promising. The Falcons were flying high and jumped out to a 20 – 0 lead over the Cowboys. They went to halftime up 29 – 10. With 5 minutes left in the game they were up by 15. I’m sure it didn’t cross anyone’s mind that the game was in jeopardy.

Well, the Atlanta defense can make just about anybody look good. When they face a player with talent it only gets magnified.

Dak Prescott became the first quarterback in the NFL’s 101-year history to pass for over 400 yards and rush for 3 touchdowns.

The Cowboys recovered an onside kick where the Falcons players looked at the ball and inexplicably just waited for it to roll at least 10 yards. The Cowboys recovered it and scored to give Dallas a 40 – 39 win.

Surely that kind of debacle can’t take place again under Quinn’s watch.

Enter Week 3, a home game against Chicago. Atlanta has a 16-point fourth quarter lead with 6 minutes remaining in the game.

Chicago replaced a struggling Mitch Trubisky with Nick Foles. Like something out of a movie Foles threw for 3 touchdowns and the Bears won, 30 -26.

What did Dan Quinn have to say after the loss? “Obviously really two disappointing endings over the last two weeks. I told you earlier we’ve got to find our way to finish. We’ll hit the road a week from tomorrow and make sure that result has to be different at the end of the game. That’s where we’re at.”

Now the team is 0 – 3 and Quinn’s overall record is 43 – 40. That seems very mediocre to me.

Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks before coming to Atlanta.

The Falcons defense has never been good with him as the coach.

Currently their 27th in total defense, giving up an average of 419 yards per game. The next game will be a Monday night showdown with 3 – 0 Green Bay.

It would be a major upset for Atlanta to win this game.

On the bright side Atlanta won’t get an opportunity to blow a fourth quarter lead in this game.

The Packers will win convincingly. Then we all have to wonder when will Arthur Blank remove Quinn as the coach. Right now, it looks like that will never happen.

SEC Saturday

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are two weeks into the 2020 college football season.

As you know everything has been altered due to the global pandemic. The SEC begins the season this Saturday and we are going to preview these games.

#5 Florida @ Ole Miss: Kyle Trask enters the season as the starting QB for the Gators. He was given the job in the Kentucky game after Feleipe Franks got hurt.

He led Florida to a comeback win and he never looked back. I expect him to be much better and have more confidence this season.

Ole Miss was 4-8 in 2019 so we don’t expect much from them.

QB John Rhys Plumlee is the epitome of a dual threat. He rushed for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

The Gators should still win by 14 points.

#23 Kentucky @ #8 Auburn:  This season home teams won’t have the advantage of crowd noise.

That will not make a difference for Auburn though. Last season true freshman quarterback Bo Nix passed for 2,542 yards, 16 scores and 6 interceptions.

He also ran for 313 yards and 7 TD’s. As expected, he made some head scratching plays due to his inexperience.

He should be much more consistent and protect the football better going into his sophomore season.

Kentucky has been a solid team over the last few years. The Wildcats were 8-5 in 2019. In a battle of jungle cats that Joe Exotic would appreciate, I give the edge to the Tigers by 10 points.

Miss St @ #6 LSU: The Tigers are the defending champs, but they lost so much talent from that team.

Heisman Trophy winning QB Joe Burrow was the top pick in the draft. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was also a first-round pick.

The elite programs reload with talent, but I think that’s unrealistic for LSU.

The Bulldogs senior RB Kylin Hill ran for 1,350 yards and 10 scores in 2019. I think this will be a close game but LSU should win by a touchdown.

#4 Georgia @ Arkansas: UGA had Wake Forest transfer QB Jamie Newman as the expected starter but he opted out of the season a few weeks ago.

USC transfer JT Daniels is now the starter and I think he’ll do well. RB D’Andre Swift left for the NFL but Zamir White, James Cook and Kenny McIntosh will step up.

Arkansas is a bad football team, going 2-10 last year and winless in conference games.

The lone bright spot is Last Chance U star Rakeem Boyd who ran for 1,133 yards and 8 scores in 2019.

The Hogs have added Florida transfer quarterback Feleipe Franks and he easily won the starting job. Yikes. UGA wins by 27 and Franks will assist with three turnovers.

#2 Alabama @ Mizzou: I hate to say it but Missouri has no chance.

Mac Jones has been named the starter for Bama. The Crimson Tide have too much talent at every position and this will be a blow out.

Vanderbilt @ #10 Texas A&M: I think the Aggies are ranked way too high, especially with Kellen Mond at quarterback.

That won’t matter in this game because Vandy is outmatched.

That’s the case for the Commodores in the majority of their conference games. Give me A&M by 20 points.

#16 Tennessee @ South Carolina: The Vols got off to a rocky start (1-4) last year but finished 8-5 and won the Gator Bowl.

South Carolina battled injuries to quarterbacks last season. I think the Gamecocks pull the upset in Week 1.

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