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SEC Packets: Week 1 Picks

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Every week, we're going to post the SEC's schedule for that week, plus a few national games of interest that we'll be watching, and give your our picks. This way we'll be able to keep track of how smart/dumb the three of us are. So here are this week's picks, with explanations and qualifiers below:

Opponents OTS Nico Todd
LSU @ Miss. State
8/30 (Thurs) - 7pm CST
Starkville, MS
ESPN
Florida vs W. Kentucky
9/1 - 11:30am CST
Gainesville, FL
Lincoln Financial
Ole Miss @ Memphis
9/1 - 2:30pm CST
Memphis, TN
CSS
Kentucky vs E. Kentucky
9/1 - 5pm CST
Lexington, KY
Georgia vs Oklahoma State
9/1 - 5:45pm CST
Athens, GA
ESPN2
Alabama vs W. Carolina
9/1 - 6pm CST
Tuscaloosa, AL
Arkansas vs Troy
9/1 - 6pm CST
Fayetteville, AK
Vandy vs Richmond
9/1 - 6pm CST
Nashville, TN
South Carolina vs La.-Lafayette
9/1 - 7pm CST
Columbia, SC
Auburn vs Kansas State
9/1 - 6:45pm CST
Auburn, AL
ESPN
Tennessee @ Cal
9/1 - 7pm CST
Berkely, CA
ABC

Outside the Sidelines:

Ole Miss over Memphis: This is probably going to be a pretty close game, it certainly has been the past four years. That likely won't change this year. I'll take Ole Miss simply because they probably have a bit more overall talent and depth, but don't be shocked if Memphis takes this one here. These two teams are pretty similar, and it could go either way.

Georgia over Oklahoma State: I'm not particularly sold on Georgia, and I could see an upset here, but I'll go with Georgia. As a whole, they have more overall talent, depth, and a more proven coaching staff. If Bobby Reid plays up to his potential, however, he could give nightmares to a Georgia defense that must replace eight starters.

Cal over Tennessee: The Vols knocked off Cal last year when the Bears forgot how to make simple open field tackles, but it will be a different story this time around. Cal has a very good team, and their passing attack is arguably the best in the country. Given Tennessee's complete uncertainty in the secondary -- filled with true freshmen and players with no experience -- Cal will use a high-powered passing attack to get the win. I believe it will likely be a high scoring affair, and a very close game. Nonetheless, I take Cal.

Todd:

Troy over Arkansas: Troy finally has some experience on the defense after returning only four or five the past few years. This year they return eight and should get back to resembling the dominating unit that upset Missouri and gave LSU all they could handle in 2004. Couple that with Omar Haugabook, who came on at the end of last year in the new spread offense, returning with a year's starting experience, and this team is more than capable of upsetting an Arkansas squad we've spent the better part of this week ragging on. This is certainly an out on a limb pick, but it's the first week of the season, and if you're going to pick a wild upset, now's the time.

Memphis over Ole Miss: Memphis returns eight starters on offense and eight more on defense, and this year's D will benefit from the stability they sorely lacked last year after long time DC Joe Lee Dunn was fired and they switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 midseason, while Ole Miss has a Delta State transfer walk on under center and they barely escaped with a win in Oxford last season. This year's contest is in Memphis, and the Rebels are still a huge question mark under the Orgeron. Also another out on a limb pick, but I feel more comfortable here than with Troy over the Hogs.

Cal over Tennessee: Earlier in the offseason I called for a UT win on the strength of an improved ground game, but the recent injury to Ainge's throwing hand and the image of DeSean Jackson running wild through an inexperienced Vol secondary keep popping up in my mind, and I'm going with Cal.

Georgia over Oklahoma State:

I was tempted to go with the upset on this one, but I'm sticking with Georgia. Even though the UGA front seven could be gashed for huge yardage by the rushing attack of the Cowboys, the OSU defense is bad across the board (hell, WE hung 30 on them in the Independence Bowl last year), so I think the Dawgs win this one in a shootout.

Nico:

Most of these are total no brainer picks but some merit some discussion.

Ole Miss over Memphis: Though Memphis frequently keeps things close with the Rebels, it's more of a Alabama/Southern Miss type rivalry with Ole Miss dominating it historically.

Georgia over Oklahoma State: We all saw what Oklahoma State can do to a defense in last year's Independence Bowl. I think Georgia has more overall talent and playing at home certainly isn't going to hurt. Dawgs in a close, high scoring affair.

Arkansas over Troy: I've developed a warm feeling for Troy over the years. I like the thought of a Sun Belt team from Alabama knocking off an SEC team, but I don't think they can contain McFadden and Jones.

Cal over Tennessee: Tennessee ate Cal alive last year and that certainly gives me pause in picking Cal, but I think that Cal's desire to prove that they can hang with the big boys will be the deciding factor in what is unquestionably the hardest game to pick of the SEC matchups.