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There is no doubt that the SEC world will be keeping a close eye on how things play out in Happy Valley and Gainesville this weekend. Auburn will look to shock some folks around the country with a good performance against Penn State, while Florida is hoping to pull off the upset against the visiting Crimson Tide. But, as we look at Week Three of the season, there are a few other games that fans should pay attention to.
South Carolina travels to Athens to take on Georgia in an early test for Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks. Coming off a last-second win over ECU, the Gamecocks are 2-0 for the first time since 2017. Shane Beamer and Kirby Smart are familiar with each other, having coached together for two seasons in the early days of the Smart era in Athens.
It should come as no surprise that the Gamecocks are 31.5 point underdogs this weekend, according to FanDuel. Georgia should be licking their chops as they look at the quarterback situation across the field on Saturday. The Gamecocks are hopeful that Luke Doty will be ready to go, as he continues to recover from a foot injury. But if he’s not ready to play, they will have to rely on Zeb Noland, who continues to be a life raft for Shane Beamer. This game shouldn’t be close in the 4th quarter, especially if JT Daniels returns from an oblique injury. But, if the Gamecocks can catch the Dawgs sleeping in the first half, this game may be one to flip over to in the 3rd quarter.
Mississippi State rolls into the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, coming off wins against LA Tech and NC State. Here’s a piece of advice: don’t overlook Memphis. The experts at FanDuel have the Bulldogs as 3.5 favorites, which is right where I thought this game would start at. The Tigers are coming off a victory over Arkansas State and Butch Jones, a game in which they put up over 40 points for the 2nd consecutive game. Now, I don’t know if this game will turn into a shootout, especially with the way State is playing on defense, but it should at least bring some fireworks. This could turn into a sneaky good game, and one that Memphis could take advantage of.
As we stick with SEC West teams, don’t overlook the Tulane Green Wave this weekend, as they travel to Oxford. Ole Miss has one of my favorite quarterbacks in the country lining up behind center, Matt Corrall. He was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, coming off his 5 TD game against Austin Peay. He commanded the Ole Miss offense in their beatdown of Louisville to open the season and has 662 yards passing, six touchdowns and no interceptions through two games.
But, don’t forget the quarterback from the Green Wave, who are now 1-1 on the season after giving Oklahoma all they wanted in Week One and defeating Morgan State this past Saturday. Michael Pratt is 35-57 for 420 yards and 7 touchdowns on the season, and Tulane looks to make good on its second upset attempt. If this Tulane defense can force a few mistakes from Corrall, then this game may become interesting. But, if they give the Ole Miss offense enough time to pick them apart, this could turn out to be a bad day for Tulane. There is a reason why FanDuel has Ole Miss favored by 14.5 points.
If you’re looking for a game you have absolutely no idea how will turn out, just pay attention to Vanderbilt and Stanford on Saturday night. After they lost to ETSU to open the season, the Dores found a way to steal a win at Colorado State last Saturday. I personally thought this game was over when the Rams took a 14-0 lead, but Vandy kept fighting back. They had lost to an FCS opponent to open the season, so “fight” was not something I expected to see out of this Clark Lea team. But they absolutely proved me wrong and won the game on a last-second FG.
As for Stanford, well, they just beat USC so badly that it cost Clay Helton his job. But, this is also a team that lost to Kansas State 24-7 to open the season, so I can’t tell whether they actually woke up or whether USC is just that bad. Either way, David Shaw brings his team across the country as 12.5 point favorites, according to FanDuel.
Does the Vanderbilt team we saw last week in the 2nd half show up on Saturday, or do we get the fumbled mess we saw in Week One? One thing is for sure about Vandy football. We never know what we’re going to get, and I expect nothing different this weekend. This is why the game on West End is intriguing. Go figure.
Let’s hope for a little bit of chaos from these outlier games.