Missouri and Texas A&M begin their SEC adventures by hosting Georgia and Florida respectively.
The pair of former Big-12 schools have very different expectations this season with Mizzou expected to challenge for a divisional crown while the Aggies face a potentially difficult season with a highly touted freshman, Johnny Manziel, under centre and sure to face incredible pressure from the powerful SEC defences throughout the season.
Even so with the Aggies returning four starting offensive linemen it is likely that Manziel will be afforced great protection on his debut. The talented signal caller will replace Ryan Tannehill, the top ten NFL draft choice, and be expected to lead an offence that has the potential for quick scores with Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwa likely to challenge defensive co-ordinators throughout the season.
The same cannot be said for Florida who struggled for much of their opening week victory over Bowling Green. The Gators alternated between two QBs as the offence faltered but coach Will Muschamp has now decided on Jeff Driskel as his starter.
“Just feel like Jeff with his legs gives us some different variables in our offense that can help us as we move forward,” Muschamp said. “So it’ll be Jeff’s game to play. I told Jeff, ‘I don’t want you looking over your shoulder, but you need to play well.”
Having been defensive co-ordinator at Texas Muschamp is well aware of the potent Aggies offensive schemes and it is likely that he will bring some new wrinkles to the Gators defence this weekend.
It wont be a classic in College Station but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the the Aggies take a home win given the struggles that Florida had stopping the run in their opening game and the stuttering Gators offence.
The Missouri, Georgia match-up however promises to be one of the most exciting this weekend.
As has been the case so often in recent years the Bulldogs are left short-handed in the early season games by suspensions and Georgia are also stretched by injuries.
Missouri’s high powered offence, which racked up 62 points in last weekend’s comfortable opener, won’t score as freely against Georgia but with a highly charged atmosphere the effect it has on Mizzou could be telling.
The Tigers head coach, Gary Pinkel, clearly understands the importance of this match and it’s also clear what he has been preaching to his players:
“It’s the first SEC game, the first SEC home game, so it is going to go down in history,” he said. “They are always going to point at it and talk about it, look at it and how it came out.”
Facing Georgia, last year’s SEC East champion, though is a difficult opening match-up for the Tigers. Georgia QB Aaron Murray is one of the best in the nation and the Junior should be able to post big numbers tonight. The suspension of numerous Bulldog’s though is sure to have a telling factor on the result and it will likely be a very close match between these two conference contenders.