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Week 3 predictions in the SEC

The Week 3 schedule is light on big games, so we’ll start by squeezing in a few early-season observations.

  • Coming into the year, the four consensus playoff favorites were Alabama, Ohio State, USC and Florida State. It’s not even officially fall yet, and two of those (OSU and FSU) are now long shots to make the field. Oh well. Nobody likes chalk anyway.
  • This season’s Heisman race could be one for the ages. Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold both made major statements this past Saturday, and Saquon Barkley is off to a fantastic start. But the best player in college football this year is the same guy who was the best player in college football last year—Lamar Jackson. His performance at North Carolina (525 total yards, six touchdowns) was breathtaking, eye-opening…and pretty much par for the course. The man can flat-out ball.
  • Auburn has a championship-caliber defense…and major issues on offense. Barring drastic improvement at quarterback, offensive line and receiver, the Tigers will go as far as that defense can drag them—and no farther.

Auburn catches Mercer at home this week, which didn’t make the cut as one of the top four games on the SEC slate. These games did.

Last week’s record: 3-1

Season record: 6-2

Tennessee (2-0) at Florida (0-1)

The Vols snapped an 11-year skid in the series last year in Knoxville, but they still haven’t won in Gainesville since 2003. Florida seems ripe for the pickin’ right about now, but this Tennessee defense is nowhere near the same class as the Michigan unit that smothered the Gators in Arlington. The Swamp streak survives.

The Pick: Florida 23 Tennessee 20

LSU (2-0) at Mississippi State (2-0)

Tiger tailback Derrius Guice and Bulldog quarterback Nick Fitzgerald were the top two rushers in the SEC last year. Both are off to strong starts this season, but Guice will have the bigger game on Saturday—mostly because he doesn’t have to run against the LSU defense, which is allowing 1.54 yards per carry (second-best in the country) thus far.

The Pick: LSU 27 Mississippi State 14

Kentucky (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0)

A neutral-site win over N.C. State and a road win in conference play at Missouri make for a nice start to the season for the Gamecocks. They’ll keep it rolling in the Rooster’s Den behind Deebo Samuel, the most electrifying player in the SEC.

The Pick: South Carolina 31 Kentucky 24

Kansas State (2-0) at Vanderbilt (2-0)

The Commodores have quietly allowed the fewest points (six) in the SEC thus far. K-State (a dark-horse contender for the Big 12 title) is a major step up in competition, however. Put your hard hats on for this one.

The Pick: Kansas State 21 Vanderbilt 17

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