The nation’s finest conference kicks off week three of the college football season tonight as No. 3 LSU (2-0) visits No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1) in scenic Starkville, Miss.
Yes, it’s true that Starkville leads the nation in hotel guests requesting rooms without a view.
Bad Starkville jokes aside, we’ve got SEC football on a Thursday night. Sure, it breaks up the work week and whets the appetite for a full Saturday of college football.
But the Thursday night game is usually a casual affair, almost an afterthought -— at least for SEC fans. It’s the game you glance at while having dinner at Houston’s, or O’Charley’s, or the Olive Garden. (Do they have TVs at the Olive Garden?)
The TV is typically muted at the O’Charley’s of the world because no one really cares about the game’s outcome; you’re just halfway glad it’s on because, after all, it’s college football.
So can someone please tell me why the SEC is acting like the ACC by participating in these Thursday night games? I think Georgia Tech of the ACC plays 85 percent of its games on Thursday nights. We are the Southeastern Conference, however, and don’t need gimmicky Thursday night games to shine the national spotlight on our programs. I know you’re with me, Kentucky fans.
Perhaps we should be glad there’s a solid SEC West showdown on the tube tonight, even if some of the LSU-MSU game’s luster was worn off by State’s flop at Auburn last week. The Bulldogs were some pundits’ sleeper pick to challenge LSU and Alabama in the West, with popular head coach Dan Mullen at the helm and big senior quarterback Chris Relf guiding a talented MSU offense. Throw in explosive running back Vick Ballard and the puppies are poised to make noise this year.
LSU head coach Les Miles brings his Bayou Bengal squad into Starkville looking for a fast start in SEC play — and for continued dominance of Mississippi State. The Tigers have won 18 of the last 19 games against the Bulldogs. And LSU is particularly strong in September, as Les Miles’s Tigers haven’t dropped a September contest since 2006. The one-two punch of running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford combined with a shutdown defense make for a "damn strong" LSU team, in Les Miles speak, and the Tigers have won convincingly thus far without their starting quarterback and key playmaking wide receiver.
Tonight we’ll see the SEC’s leading rushing team in Mississippi State (averaging 321 yards on the ground per game) against the conference’s most stout rushing defense in LSU (giving up 45 yards per game). What will give? Based on (a) the recent history between these teams, (b) LSU coming off a scrimmage at home against Northwestern State last week vs. State coming off a tough, physical loss at Auburn, and (c) the uninspiring and nearly indistinguishable MSU uniforms from at least 28 other college football teams, I’ll take LSU over State in a low-scoring, reasonably competitive game.
Now for a look at select SEC teams heading into week three. I say "select" because I have no idea what to write about the Arkansas vs. Troy game, for example, except that the Hogs better fatten up on the cupcakes while they can. They start the regular season next week at Alabama. Here we go:
Tennessee vs. Florida: Vols quarterback Tyler Bray leads a surprisingly good looking Tennessee team into the Swamp. But it will be too much of that tacky orange and blue color scheme, too much of scat back Jeff Demps, and too many fans with names like "Rick" sporting tight-fitting, circa 1987 Gator attire. Flawwda takes this one.
Clemson vs. Auburn: This is really Auburn vs. Auburn or Clemson vs. Clemson. That’s because these schools are mirror images of each other except that Clemson’s campus is on a lake. Both schools are the Tigers, both are in towns you wouldn’t visit unless colleges were there, and 99 percent of the schools’ alumni live in Atlanta. Clemson and Auburn might as well combine, and I propose that the new school be named Clemburn. In fact, I’ll go ahead and take Clemburn in this one with a big win over the Tigers.
Best of luck to your SEC team this weekend. Who’s joining me at O’Charley’s to catch tonight’s game?