All told, ten SEC teams will take the field against non-conference opponents this weekend in the opening weekend of the 2007 season. And maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like there could very well be a few losses for the SEC teams.
To begin with, five teams pretty much have it made by playing the Sisters of the Poor (Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina). An upset in any of those games, and you probably need to head on down to your local church and get your final matters in place, just in case the end of time really is near. Or go to your local bar. Whatever works best for you. Hey, I'm not judging you, just letting you know your options. Moving on...
The other five SEC teams, though, all face very uncertain match-ups, and the truth is an upset in any of those five games should not be particularly surprising.
Ole Miss plays Memphis for the final time in the Liberty Bowl, and it should be a very good game. The truth is, Ole Miss and Memphis are pretty similar teams. They beat Eli in his senior year (something we or Auburn couldn't do), and again in 2004. They've lost the past two years by a combined total of seven points, losing a heart-breaker a year ago on a trick play. With all that the Rebs have to replace, Memphis could very well pull off the upset here. It's going to be close, and honestly could go either way.
Auburn plays Kansas State, and an upset here shouldn't be shocking. True, Kansas State isn't particularly great, but they return the bulk of their team from a year ago, and the truth of the matter is that Auburn isn't likely to be especially good this year either. I still stick to my contention of the past several months: this will easily be their worst year since 2003. Moreover, they have a ton of injuries (Davis, Doolittle, Hart, Caudle, etc.), and that will hurt Auburn a good bit. Beyond that, it also doesn't seem that Brad Lester will play, for reasons not yet determined. While the Tigers probably win, again, an upset should surprise no one.
Georgia plays Oklahoma State in Athens, and again, an upset shouldn't be shocking. Oklahoma State went 7-6 last year, and most people think they'll probably win 8 games this year, and perhaps more. Moreover, the Oklahoma State offense was one of the best in the country last year -- plus it should only improve this year -- and the Georgia defense must replace eight starters. Also, the Georgia offense has a few key replacements to make, and it's an uncertain bunch to a degree. Again, an upset shouldn't surprise.
Tennessee travels to Cal, and most expect Cal to win, and rightly so. It will likely be a shootout, especially with Cal's great passing attack and Tennessee's very shaky secondary filled with true freshmen and wholly inexperienced players. Considering that Tennessee has to replace its entire wide receiving corps and the fact that Ainge has a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand, I doubt Tennessee can keep up. It won't be an upset, but likely will be an SEC loss.
Even Arkansas has problems on the horizon with Troy. At first glance, you'd figure this would be an easy win, but not quite. Troy has knocked off top programs before (2004 Missouri), and came close on other occasions (2004 LSU, 2006 FSU). Moreover, this is likely to be their best team to yet, as they return nearly everyone from a team that won their conference championship and the New Orleans Bowl a year ago. Arkansas, on the other hand, is a team that I don't expect to be that good anyway, and they have a lot of key starters missing for this game. Marcus Monk, Ben Cleveland, and Marcus Harrison definitely won't play, and Antwain Robinson may not either. The situation could quite possibly yield an upset.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I wouldn't be too shocked to see quite a few SEC teams go down this weekend. I just hope the world really isn't coming to an end and that we aren't one of them.