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SEC Week 2: Auburn-MSU; Georgia-Mizzou and Texas A&M vs. Gators highlight weekend

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Welcome to Week 2 in the SEC. Here are this week's games and storylines.

Saturday, Sept. 8

Auburn at Mississippi State; Starkville, MS; Noon EST

Auburn needs a road win over Mississippi State to avert the disturbing and very real possibility of a 1-4 start (after Louisiana-Monroe next week, LSU and Arkansas loom on Sept. 22 and Oct. 6).

Mississippi State is still fuming about close losses the last two years and if Coach Dan Mullen wants to be taken seriously, his team needs to stack wins in September and early October before trips to Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge and a visit from Arkansas. He has never beaten any of those teams in four years at MSU – and he's a 3-point favorite Saturday.

As we say down South, Auburn just looked …. not right…  in the loss to Clemson.  The Tigers looked a lot like what they are - a team with two new coordinators, a defense searching for meaning in an uncertain world and an offense whose young quarterback isn't quite zeroed in with the passing thing.

Tre Mason looked pretty good running when Kiehl Frazier wasn't zipping balls over receivers' heads, so there's that.

Auburn could have benefited from a tune-up against Jackson State – that's who Mississippi State obliterated last week, gaining infinity yards in an infinity-to-9 victory.

It was awful. But there's a lot to be said for working the kinks out. This is probably Mullen's best team so far, and his best chance for a win over a good SEC team.

Florida at Texas A&M; College Station, TX;  2:30 p.m. on ESPN

Texas A&M hosts Florida as a member of the SEC in a game that has seen the line move back and forth during the week. This is an interesting match between teams that could wind up being pretty good or going down the drain, depending.

The Gators were unimpressive in last week's ugly 27-14 win over Bowling Green State, which despite its goofy name wasn't a bad team.

The Gators got 148 yards out of runner Mike Gillessee. Quarterback Jeff Driskel, who really looked good at times, threw accurately. But everybody seemed about a step behind the beat all afternoon, the sort of thing that happens in season openers.

Texas A&M, if you recall, was a promising team at the start of last season, but things fell apart and that was that for Coach Mike Sherman.  Enter Kevin Sumlin, who lit up Conference USA at Houston, and who looks every bit the part of the hot, young coach who could go the distance. He inherits enough talent to make some noise in his first year at A&M.

The door to glory could swing wide for those bold enough to walk through. If the Gators can manage to welcome the Aggies to the SEC with a good throttling, they could be on their way to who knows what? The SEC East is balanced enough and Georgia is flaky enough that a lot of teams could win it - why not Florida?

Texas A&M could begin the SEC era with an explosive victory and ignite delirium in College Station.

Georgia at Missouri; Columbia, MO; 7:30 p.m. EST ESPN2

The Missouri Tiger fan base is getting all into being members of the SEC. To infuse the community with pep, school officials have printed up commemorative T-shirts saying how Georgia's mascot is "UGA-ly." See, it's a bulldog. And his name is UGA. Get it?

It's kind of sweet - all that school spirit and playful taunting of traditional powers. Wonder how long  that will last?

The Tigers got off to a 62-10 start last week, sending Southeast Louisiana back home looking like a windshield after a trip through bug country. Marcus Murphy ran back two long punts, Kendial Lawrence ran for a 76-yard TD and lots of other brutal things happened.

Georgia had its ups and downs against Buffalo last week, and hopefully won't get caught looking ahead to next week's big game with Florida Atlantic. The UGA schedule is a joke. The Bulldogs are known to be a tad schizophrenic – aggressive and opponent-crushing or mild-mannered and prone to upset.

The Dawg defense surrendered 25 points to Buffalo. Missouri is quite better. This one could be pretty good – if bad Georgia shows up; if good Georgia makes the trip,boom.

 Games of moderate interest

Vanderbilt vs. Northwestern could be amusing. The Commodores gave South Carolina a hard time last week and but for an egregious no-call on a clear pass interference by a Gamecock defender, the Commodores might be working on an undefeated season going into Week 2. Vanderbilt has the edge in SAT score required for admission.

Kentucky hosts Kent State. Maybe the gods will be kind and allow the Wildcats to stack up a W or two before the mandatory insertion into the SEC meat grinder.

Ole Miss welcomes UTEP to Oxford. JUCO transfer QB Hugh Wallace had a nice game in the season opener against Central Arkansas, which proves absolutely nothing. Is Ole Miss doomed to another horrific campaign or is there a glimmer of hope for the woebegone Rebels? Soon, we will know.

Ritual sacrifices

Alabama vs. Western Kentucky. Perhaps the Hilltoppers will stop Alabama on third down a few times. Maybe they will manage to break a few gains of more than 10 yards, and even score a time or two so Nick Saban can dog cuss his team and drive them mercilessly, telling them they are worthless and weak right up until kickoff of the Arkansas game.

LSU plays Washington. Both teams wear purple. You don't see that often. Might be an interesting game for a quarter or two.

South Carolina hosts East Carolina. USC won't have to pay a guarantee to some out-of-state cupcake. All revenues from this game remain in the state of South Carolina, so maybe they can fix the broken plumbing in that rest stop on I-85 right over the Georgia line just west of Anderson.

Arkansas plays Louisiana Monroe, which is the younger sister of Marilyn Monroe. Kidding.

Tennessee plays Georgia State. Bill Curry, who used to coach at Alabama, coaches Georgia State. Tennessee hates Alabama. Sorry, that's all I've got.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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